Gods of Molenbeek

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    Gods of Molenbeek

    Aatos ja Amine

    Directed by

    Finland, Belgium, Germany

    2019

    72 min

    • French
    • Spanish
    • Arabic
    • Finnish

    Documentary

    The district of Molenbeek-Saint-Jean in Brussels has become world-famous as a center of jihadism, but for six-year-old Aatos and his friend Amine, it is a familiar home. Here, they listen to spiders, discover black holes, and fight about what is going to steer a flying carpet. Together they search for the answers to life’s big questions. But the brutality of the adult world makes itself known when terrorists detonate a bomb in the neighborhood. Aaatos envies Amine’s Muslim faith and looks for his own gods, although his classmate Flo questions him; she is strongly convinced that anyone who believes in God is completely nuts. Gods of Molenbeek is a wonderful portrayal of childhood friendship, inquiry and the creation of meaning in a chaotic time.

    Awards

    • Church Media Foundation Prize, Special Prize in the National Competition (Over 30 min) - Tampere FF

    Festivals

    Credits

    Cinematography
    Hannu-Pekka Vitikainen
    Editing
    Jamin Benazzouz
    Sales
    CAT&DOCS
    Production
    HANNU-PEKKA VITIKAINEN
    Reetta  Huhtanen

    Reetta Huhtanen

    Finland

    Three years ago I started to hear interesting stories of my sister’s son Aatos and their daily family life in Molenbeek, Brussels, 'a neighborhood where majority of the residents have Muslim background. While the world was building juxtapositions Aatos in turn had become intensly interested on surrounding Muslim society, the way religion was seen and heard in daily life, especially in his best friend Amine’s life. Aatos had endless questions about gods and he wanted to find his own God. In Aatos’s reflections on God, and as he plays and talks with his friends, the realities and ideological questions become condensed. I wanted to show from the children’s perspective: how they reflect adults beliefs and how they build their own view on the world. Adults are in the background. In my protagonist I was mostly interested in his open-mindedness which shows that it is quite possible to live in cultural interfaces without black-and-white divisions. While playing, these children might argue about fundamental subjects related to worldviews, yet they don't judge but rather learn from each other. While we were filming the Brussels terrorist attack took place and it naturally broadened the subject of the film. For me, the attack itself was not in the core of my interest but instead how it reflected in children’s world, their play and thoughts.

    Reetta Huhtanen is a filmmaker based in Helsinki. She graduated with a master of arts from the ELO Film School Finland at Aalto University, majoring in documentary film directing. Beside her study of film, she graduated with a BA in sociology and philosophy. Currently, alongside filmmaking, she is a doctoral student at Aalto University. As a documentarist she is described to have “an ability to see the absurd in recent phenomenon through her twisted vision. In social topics she collides serious with playful”.