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Samy Szlingerbaum’s essay film describes the story of his family’s arrival in Brussels using silent images, interweaving them with his mother’s voice

80 min. |

Screenplay & director: Samy Szlingerbaum BE 1980, feature film, 80 min., Yiddish original with English subtitles Production: Paradies-Film, Belgium; Maryline Watelet Distribution: Cinémathèque royale de Belgique Cinematography: Michel Houssiau Cast: Helene Lapiower, Boris Lehman, Jeremy Wald, Micha Wald

After the Second World War, director Samy Szlingerbaum’s family arrives at the train station Bruxelles-Midi en route from Poland to Costa Rica. What was intended to be just a brief stay turns into their final destination; although it feels like being in transit, it does become a home. In dark, almost dreamlike images, the director tells the story of the family’s journey through Europe from his mother’s perspective. Her voice in Yiddish is dubbed over the silent reenacted images, interweaving Szlingerbaum’s and his mother’s memories. The film describes the difficulties the family had to contend with – not having papers, making do in cramped living quarters, and being confronted time and again with their own speechlessness in a foreign land, where their own language – Yiddish – becomes a home.

Locarno Film Festival 1980; Berlinale – 11th International Forum of Young Cinema 1981

Samy Szlingerbaum (1949-1986) was born in Brussels. He made a number of short films and was also involved in some of Chantal Akerman’s films. BRUSSELS TRANSIT was his only full-length film.




Guest: Jim Hoberman (New York)

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