COMPETITION Stefan is a Romanian construction worker living in Brussels and preparing for a four-week vacation that, he warns friends and family, could take longer. With the fridge emptied and the tiredness of sleepless nights, he ends up crossing paths with Shuxiu, a young woman who works in a small restaurant while getting a PhD focused on moss ecosystems. And that’s how two people who could miss each other in the world find themselves united by happenstance.
Bas Devos most recent fable, winner of the award for best film from the Encounters section, at the Berlin Film Festival, incites us to pay attention to the here and now, in this world ever more disperse and frenetic.
The film could be summarised as a love story, with your apparently typical narrative elements of the genre. A random encounter between two strangers, one about to leave, the other one who stays behind. However, it’s in the between the lines and in the singular treatment of these elements and the small actions and interactions, in general, that we witness the sensitivity with which this author exposes us, without moral lessons, to the importance of connection between beings, be it humans or nature, like the moss that surrounds us. We hear echoes of Ursula K. Le Guin’s essay “The Carrier Bag Theory of Fiction”, a source of inspiration to Devos. A non-linear approach that deconstructs the idea of a hero in progress in the face of conflict but opens instead a space for complexification that remains more realistic and natural that can start by the simple act of sharing a homemade soup. (Susana Santos Rodrigues)