Week 13/2023

The highlight of this week is the Courtisane festival that’s taking place from Wednesday night to Sunday night. Next to our Courtisane selection, we made a regular agenda for the first half of the week with three films about labour and its global, cultural shifts. 

In À nous la liberté (1931), René Clair presents an anarchist satire on monotonous factory work. An inspiration for Chaplin’s Modern Times (1936), Clair’s revolutionary early sound film offers a condemnation of prison-like working conditions, Stalinism and industrial dehumanization.

A sobering, fly-on-the-wall look at the 21st-century’s globalized economy, the observational documentary American Factory (2019) offers a kind of update of À nous la liberté. Filmed over three years, direct cinema veterans Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert obtained unique access to film in a Chinese-owned windshield factory in Ohio. Cultural tensions rise between the Chinese workers and managerial staff who were brought in and the American employees, who are expected to follow Chinese labour practices. 

The Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei is coming to Bozar in Brussels to present his latest documentary Rohingya (2021) which was, just as his previous films, refused by the major streaming platforms and film festivals such as Cannes because of interference by the Chinese authorities. A continuation of Human Flow (2017) and The Rest (2019), the film focuses on the plight of refugees, in this case the ethnic Muslim minority of the Rohingya who were forced out of Myanmar in 2017 and fled to Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh, the world’s largest refugee camp. Shot over several months, the film observes in long, uninterrupted set-ups the community’s daily life, social rituals, routines and the camp’s unique landscapes. Working outside the camp is restricted or forbidden by the authorities in order to avoid undermining natives’ job prospects. 

This Week