Film Show 025: Bas Devos
An interview with director Bas Devos about his new film 'Here', which was awarded Best Film by the Encounters jury at this year's Berlinale
Bas Devos (b. 1983) is a Zoersel-born, Brussels-based filmmaker. He has made four feature films: Violet (2014), Hellhole (2019), Ghost Tropic (2019), and his latest Here (2023). Here premiered in the Encounters section of this year’s Berlinale, where it took home the top prize. While maintaining the seductive images and emotive slow pacing of his past works, this new film finds Devos moving towards simpler gestures and an even more minimalist aesthetic. It centers around Stefan (Stefan Gota) as he prepares to leave his home, preparing soup from the leftovers in his fridge. The film, in its careful attention to sound design and lighting, invites viewers to become immersed in various spaces and interactions that point to the interconnectedness of all life. (Read our review of Here in our first Berlinale dispatch.) Joshua Minsoo Kim talked with Bas Devos on February 12th, 2023 via Zoom to discuss his filmography, the way moss helps one see the world, working with Chris Watson, and more.
Joshua Minsoo Kim: Given that soup plays a significant role in Here (2023), I do have to ask: What is the best soup that you can make? Is there a soup you make for people when you want to provide a really good meal?
Bas Devos: (laughs). The thing is, my father was a soup person. You could make him happy with soup on any given day. He passed away recently in September, while I was finishing the film, and I felt that the whole idea of Stefan making soup in the film was for him, in a way. I’m a terrible cook, and I shouldn’t be allowed in the kitchen (laughter). I can make simple dishes for my daughter, and I can make a good pumpkin soup, but anything more refined… I should be ashamed (laughter).
Did your dad have a favorite soup that he made for himself, or that your mom made for him?
It could be any soup. I think you could wake him up at night to give him some. He would say, “I’m a soup person.” I think I heard him say that 20 or 30 times in his life.
I’ve never heard anyone say that about themselves.
Me neither! (laughter). I like soup, but I’m not necessarily a soup person.
Here is my favorite of your feature films. I feel like everything about it—from the pacing to the framing to each of the individual images—really lends itself nicely to the underlying theme of interconnectedness. What early memories do you have of being in nature?
I grew up in a small village in the north of Belgium called Essen, and I moved to Brussels when I went to study film at 18. I’m 39 now, so I’ve been living here for as long as I lived in that small village. If I just compare that to Brussels and raising my daughter here, there was a sense of security growing up. This meant you could go out with friends and get lost for hours. We took advantage of that a lot. We had a lot of fields—corn fields—which were nice to play in and hide inside. There were a lot of forests, too, and I was really attracted to them. I spent a lot of time outside, both playing football and getting lost in the woods. If there is anything I feel that I’ve lost from moving to Brussels, it’s that. It’s this possibility to go outside and get lost in nature.
Do you have any favorite memories of you and your friends exploring nature? Was there anything you remember being particularly exciting or dangerous?
My fondest memories were not necessarily connected to nature but they were definitely connected with being outside and feeling the weather. I still like to be in the rain when it’s pouring. I still really like to feel the sun when it’s warm. I think I was a bit of a melancholic kid sometimes; after a day of playing outside with friends, and we often played together, I would walk home alone. I would walk through this suburb-like enclosure because I lived a little outside of where my friends were. And to return home when the sun was going down, and to feel the cold sneak in with the night coming, just being able to sense that atmosphere is great. A lot of the images in Violet (2014) were directly summoned by these memories.
Was there anything specifically violent that happened in your life? I’m thinking about Taurus (2005), which is your first short film, and it has a horror element. Were you drawing on anything for those ideas?
Shit, I have to go way back now. It’s probably related to the process of growing up and thinking differently about things, but when making Taurus, I liked the idea of something happening but not knowing what it was. It carried tension, and that could carry a short film. Once you go to a feature film, there has to be a certain weight behind it, or you have to explain where it comes from; for a short film you can get lost in this unknown. But you have to understand that when I made that film, I was still in film school—I was like 20.
There was also this… I don’t wanna say immature, but there was this notion that you need a violent event for it to be valuable. It’s also what we see around us, like 99% of the films we see and the narratives we hear are propelled by a violent event, whether it’s emotional or physical. I think I gradually started to shed that idea because I never really felt comfortable with it. I would say that my new film Here is like an apex of that new thinking; I wanted to propose a truly different narrative to the narrative of the hero overcoming obstacles.
It did feel like a different film from your previous ones. Before we even get into that, I did want to touch on what you just said with regards to growing a lot from your early short films. I want to ask about Pillar (2006), which you made in the mid-late 2000s. Both that and Violet are about grieving. How do you feel like you grew in your understanding of the process of grief, or in filming grief, between those two films? And maybe it’s even different now because it’s been 8 or 9 years since then.
Wow, that’s a hard question because I have to go back to a different version of myself. Even though I was really young while making Pillar, which was my graduation film—I was 23—I had already seen, relatively up close, people perish. I had seen people grieving. And I understood that this mechanic of grieving does not just relate to people dying, it relates to people getting separated, or opportunities being lost. Grieving is a constant, and the mystery of us human beings is that we’re conscious of all this and we continue going. We find ways to deal with loss. Even though I was really young, I think I understood that and I found it really powerful.
I felt that in making these two films—Pillar as my graduation film, and then Violet as my first feature film—it was a subject that I grasped enough to make works about. I was always afraid to touch upon things I didn’t know or fully understand. Grieving and loss are so huge that nobody can even pretend to know what it is or what its mechanics really are. And in a way, it felt safe. It felt like a safe choice, especially because the film took place in a sealed-off reality. The political realities hardly seeped in; they exist but they’re on the edges of the film. That’s the part that might be immature, at least on the content side: the fear of opening a film world, and to make a film that was large enough or diffuse enough. This was something I could hide behind, and there are probably still things I hide behind (laughs). But yeah, if you make a first film, you have to have a sense of safety.
Are there things you feel like you learned from making your first feature that propelled you to make Hellhole (2019)?
It wasn’t clear in the moment, but it was clear in retrospect that Hellhole was a reaction to Violet, just like how Ghost Tropic (2019) was a clear reaction to making Hellhole. I felt like there was something about the aesthetics of Violet that was powerful and dangerous, there was something seductive about it. But there was also something fragile. I was trying to think about distance in a different way: How do we see a character? How do we place a character in an image? How do we treat space?
I was thinking a lot about indoor spaces, and how growing up in a village means something totally different from growing up in a city. The idea that when I was young, I could walk around my house and could see it from all sides and have this mental image of my home—it’s totally different in the city. I have no idea what my home would look like from the outside. I live four stories high in an apartment; I can’t walk around it for sure. There’s a strange, spatial relationship between the indoors and outdoors. I was thinking a lot about these things, of space and film, and how I wanted to do something different. And I definitely wanted the city to take part in that. I was thinking about how the city separates lives even though we seem to be so much closer to each other physically. Like, behind this wall (gestures at the wall in front of him), there is a life and I literally don’t know about it. There is nothing special about these thoughts, but they were very present in my thinking.
Secondly, more on the content side, I had this wish to open the film to the things I would see, and to the people I would see around me. I think there is a filmic bubble that exists in Violet—and it’s not a bad thing, but I was just no longer drawn to it—but for Hellhole, I wanted to see the people I saw around me. The homeless people I saw around me, the refugees who are stuck in the park 100 meters to my left. I wanted to understand these lives, and it was a long process. I still didn’t get the textures of these lives because it’s so complicated, and so the film became this weird process of… how complicated is it to live together? What happened in Brussels [the 2016 terrorist attacks] happened while I was writing, and it played a big role in my own life. It’s just this realization that, wow, shit, this is really complicated and we have to keep talking. We have to find new ways of speaking to each other, new words even, new stories. And this search for new stories is what triggered the writing of Ghost Tropic and even Here.
It seems like you wanted to get more involved with knowing these people, and Ghost Tropic definitely does that. Was that inspired by your own experiences?
In the making of Hellhole, I was working with these young boys who lived in these high-rises that were developed in the 1970s, which slowly began to house the poorest of Brussels. This is a super complicated space, which I had to learn to navigate. I had to gain trust to speak to these guys and the whole time I was so conscious of being this white, Flemish guy like “I’m going to film you guys.” I truly felt so bad, but slowly I could let go of this feeling because there was this amount of trust that I found, and there was a conversation I could strike up with them because they were young guys and I was a relatively young guy. But there was such a distance and it felt like the whole film was crystallized in meeting these young men, it’s like they formed the heart of Brussels. They were born and raised here; I was not born and raised here, I was coming from a small village up north and claiming this city.
I kept wondering, “Where are the mothers?” None of them introduced me to their families and I tried looking on my own and I met this group of ladies who met every week and organized all these small projects in the “Model City.” It was already late and we were already close to filming when I got to know them, but I was like, “The film is here, but I’m too late.” I knew this is what the film should be about. They had an unseen history and they were fierce. I went back a couple of times to talk to them and to get to know some of them, and two of them played in the film.
At the time I was thinking about this question of the “other,” which is always present. How do you make a film about someone whose experience is so far from your own? I just felt like, as a maker you have to find where you place this question. You have to be conscious about it, but you have to find ways of moving forward. And especially in a city like Brussels, which is super diverse, it’d be weird to make a film about white men—it wouldn’t be a film about the city anymore. I tried to figure out how to navigate these questions and I thought, okay, I cannot make a film about identities and their lived experiences, but I can make a film about falling asleep on the metro and having to walk home, and to be challenged and confronted with the night in this city. And maybe if I speak and listen enough, maybe I can do it in a way that’s as “correct” as possible.
So every film seems to melt into the next film. That led to me making Ghost Tropic, and I made it in such a different way from Hellhole, which had a relatively large budget and a big crew and so much preparation time. It had such a machine behind it. Ghost Tropic was the opposite; it was shot in 15 days on 16mm film, and the only money we had to pay was for that 16mm film. Everyone came to help out, and everybody was working for free. It was just a weird burst of energy compared to the slow suffering of making Hellhole (laughter).
It seems really clear that your films are a reflection of your life and the things you’re experiencing. I really like Here because it really does feel like a response to the entirety of your filmography. I thought it was so beautiful to see how people in the film are connected in such simple ways. You reduce everything so that even simple relationships, like the mechanic or the people we get food from, remind us of these connections we have in our every day.
I really feel like the way I operate is so childlike (laughs). I stumble through filmmaking. I do something, and then I ask myself, “What did I do here? And why?” And then I see someone fall asleep on the metro and I’m like, (gasps) “That’s amazing!” I don’t want to make it sound like less work than it is, and I don’t want to berate myself, but for me it all starts with being amazed. I want to still be able to wonder and marvel. It’s a source of energy, and there’s a part behind it that is more thought through, maybe more academic or chewed on, but the reality of making the thing and speaking to people—I always start with this idea, of this is amazing. Like, it’s a piece of moss! The childlike connections to people and subjects is very necessary for me.
I think it comes through very clearly in Here that you're this type of person. You’ll have the camera set on the forest and we'll see an airplane fly overhead, and you’ll highlight the way the light shifts because of that. And at the end of the film, you have the shot of the lights getting brighter at night. You want us to see even the smallest differences, in the light around us or even with the textures of moss. In the press release you mention how you went on hikes with bryologist Geert Raeymaekers, do you mind talking about that? What kind of person is he?
He’s a very unassuming man who always wears a Gore-Tex sweater. He always has boots on just in case he encounters a wetland and wants to walk through it. He’s retired and he did a PhD on mosses in the US because a lot of the big figures in bryology are based there. He studied with Janice Glime, who is a famous bryologist—she wrote the book Bryophyte Ecology. He went to study with her and then came back to Belgium, working for the European Union. He had to make, as a bryologist, recommendations for ways we would protect biodiversity. Since retiring, he has been focusing more on the joy of looking at moss. A professor here in Brussels said that we didn’t have any bryologists at the University here, so he said to meet with him.
We met in the place where we shot the film. I talked to him on the phone and I was like, “I want to make a film and it’s quite important because there’s this zone next to the train tracks that’s a wasteland. It used to be a dumping ground for all the trash gathered by the railroad workers and they just covered it with sand, and slowly, unchecked nature took over. So now it’s half a park, half a wasteland.” I asked him if we could go there together, and when we were together he handed me this magnifying glass. I had been reading a book by the American writer Robin Wall Kimmerer called Gathering Moss. In it she describes—not in scientific, but in deeply felt, human ways—what it is like to look at moss, its importance throughout history and for us human beings, and our interconnectedness with the land. All of these things got me really excited, and then we ended up in this wasteland (laughter). We’re on our knees, looking at this moss, and I don’t want to make it seem more magical than it is, but a lot of what she was describing in the book… I felt it. I felt connected to her words and I even felt connected to Geert, who was this elderly guy I didn’t know. We saw something together and it was an experience I hadn’t had in a long time—connecting with someone I didn’t know, and to grasp that something is happening.
My whole thinking about moss started with a question about attention. I was thinking a lot about attention and distraction, how the world we live in is aimed at distracting us all the time, and how we are no longer ever separated from the world; we are always on. Sleeping is the only time we are out of the world. It’s so confusing, and it’s so new. We haven’t really thought through all the consequences of us being connected 24/7 and being in the world from the moment we open our eyes until we close them. But then also, understanding or feeling that the act of paying attention to something and really looking and really seeing… I think these are prerequisites for love. In order to really love something, to really engage with it, attention is the first thing—it’s the basis of love.
I read this book on moss and she was speaking about attention, saying that the miracle of moss is that you have to stop, sit down, kneel, pick something up, and bring it close to you. And you even need a magnifying glass to see the wonder it beholds. With higher plants, as you’re walking through the forest you can enjoy the trees and the foliage and the birds just from passing through. One doesn’t have to pay attention; it’s just there, and we enjoy it. But you can come home and not have actually seen it. But if you want to see moss, you have to look at it, and once you’ve seen it, you cannot unsee it—and then it’s everywhere. And I was like (gasps), “It’s everywhere!” (laughter). Geert showed me this. He literally took me by the hand and taught me how moss reproduces itself, how it’s different from higher plants, and how it has always been there. And how can that not be amazing? This is the first plant on land!
How do you feel like your experiences with looking at moss, be it on your own or with Geert, has affected your everyday life? And did it affect the way you decided to make the film?
It impacted my life in the sense that I became much more aware of when I’m paying attention. I am a human being of the 21st century, so it happens that hours pass by and I have not paid attention to anything. I’ve been everywhere, I’ve been on my phone while another screen is on and my daughter is saying something. And then there are these rare moments where something has happened and it has consumed me entirely—I have seen it and heard it. I have been much more attuned to these moments. I started climbing lately, bouldering. I’m not good at it—I suck at it—but it requires attention. It requires focus. And I hate sports! I’m lazy! But this I like, and it’s because I feel like the movement comes to my body in a very natural way, and because it requires my attention. And probably everyone who’s played sports would say that about their own sport, so climbing isn’t special in that way, but for me when I climb, the world stops existing outside of it.
The same is true for teaching. I teach film at the film school that I went through. And while teaching, I started to notice that I’m really there. I think it’s because there’s something being generated that, at least from my perspective, needs a kind of love. It needs a transaction of a certain generosity. And for that you need to be paying attention to what people are saying and what is really happening.
I feel that. Something I’ve thought about a lot in the context of my teaching—and I teach at a high school where we have 42-minute class periods—is that when class is over, a student may come up to me and ask a question. I’ll be getting my papers together and thinking about what I have to do for my next class. I remember another teacher told me that it’s important to actually pay attention to them, to actually look at them and show them that you’re not just trying to move on.
I relate to that—like, class is over and you’re exhausted (laughter). While I was listening to you, I was thinking of two types of students. There are those who ask a question and totally didn’t pay attention, and then those who actually did pay attention and are eager to really grasp it. Sometimes you have to be like, “I just said that two minutes ago.” (laughter). What do you teach?
I teach science—biology and chemistry.
Wow, I’m amazed. You probably know way more about the life cycle of moss than me (laughs).
That’s partly why I liked your film so much. I feel like so much of what I try to teach my students throughout the school year is this understanding that we can all learn from each other, we can grow together. The school system is really structured in a way to set these students up to compete with one another. I want them to be okay with not being good at something, with making mistakes. I want them to know that they can trust each other. So many images in Here just pointed to that interconnectedness too. There’s the woman who offered to plant Stefan’s oat seeds in her garden. There are shots of people sleeping with reflections of the train going by, hinting at one’s connection with the city and the outside world. There’s the one line in the film, when Stefan meets up with the woman: “Could you just talk a bit? Please, I just want to listen to your voice.” It’s just incredible to think that even the texture of someone’s voice—something as meaningful as the texture of the images in your films—can have so much impact. All of these things just go back to the way everything is linked, but also about generosity and patience and a willingness to open yourself to others.
When you say all that, it makes me feel really warm because I am always deeply… not afraid, but there’s a hidden, almost shame when you finish a film. Maybe I’m alone on that. It’s like, “Is this all this is? Did we do all this work for… this? The people who worked on this film are gonna be pissed.” (laughter). What I find important about films is that if you don’t pay attention, if you don’t put in the effort, they’re so easy to brush off. They’re so easy to push aside. It always feels really good when somebody sees what’s there, when someone somehow understands. I wouldn’t make this film if I didn’t trust that people would see it. Do you know the filmmaker Kevin Jerome Everson?
Oh yeah, I think he’s one of the best filmmakers right now.
I feel exactly the same. Something he said that I found deeply connected to is, “I make films for myself and I make them for the subject of the film.” I don’t know how it is in the US, but that’s almost unholy. Like, you shouldn’t say that, you should always say you make films for the audience. I thought it was so powerful that he said that because, if I make films for myself… well, I’m a human being, and if it’s for me then it is for other people. I am more than just this one guy. Depending on where you make films and how you finance them, making films is sometimes a struggle. It’s sometimes really hard to keep hammering on why it is important to make a film about a Romanian guy making soup. It’s a lot harder to explain that than a film where emotions run rampant (laughter). And there’s nothing wrong with that kind of film, but it makes films about the invisible or hardly visible more difficult to make.
I’m thinking now about the credits for your film. You have all the people listed on one screen. I was wondering if you’ve even thought about not listing what people do.
The credits for all the films I made, starting from the final short film I made called We Know (2009), all have the same idea for the credits. It always says “A film by” and then it shows all the people who worked on the film, and then we fill in, one-by-one, what each person did. I’ve been thinking about that a lot, like not putting what people did. Just putting names. That’s the next move.
Even just having the names and not having what they did right away… that’s a beautiful symbol. It’s like, hey, these are people first, and you might not know them, but they were all involved with this. How’d you come up with the idea for the credits?
I really loved the credits that Béla Tarr made. What he did was that he would have a name and then a comma, then a second name and a comma, then a third name and so on. There was something about it where I felt like he found a way where we could read who made the film. If you have rolling credits, it literally goes so fast that nobody reads it. You’re just listening to the music and looking at your phone. I spoke to Boris, who always does all the credits and does graphic design for the posters. He’s way smarter than me and really talented. I asked him, “Is there any way we can make people look at the names?” And he came up with it. I remember when I saw it for We Know, I was like, “Wow. It’s more beautiful than the film!” (laughter). And he said, in a really dry tone, “Yeah, I know.” (laughter). It’s meaningful to me because I am the only one who is there for the film from the very beginning to the end, when it’s presented at a screening. I think people know this but they may forget that while it’s me who goes up on stage to answer questions, the film only exists because of all these other people. It’s only because these people have better ideas than I’d have on my own. We listen to each other and we agree and disagree.
Are there specific filmmakers who have been important influences for how you approach your own film? You mentioned Béla Tarr, of course.
I have trouble watching films, I have to say. There are so many films where I start to enjoy them less than I would want to. I used to really, really love superhero films, for example. And something about that is disturbing because I grew up reading comics, reading Batman. My influences are people I find really formative. In film school, the biggest eye openers to me, on the Belgian side, were Chantal Akerman for sure and the Dardenne brothers, whose work I knew before film school, but it was there where I started to understand their specific place in film history. And of course, people like Béla Tarr.
Out of film school I discovered people like Kelly Reichardt, whose films are still really precious and specific. In a way they’re really distinct from many other films I see. I was really excited to be selected for Encounters but I was even more excited that the new Hong Sang-soo film would be playing. I wouldn’t call him an influence but he’s one of those filmmakers that I always look forward to seeing. We’ve been speaking about Kevin Jerome Everson too.
What I find really interesting with Hong Sang-soo or Kelly Reichardt’s films is that people say they’re “small films.” To me they’re huge films. The lives of the characters I see exist beyond the film. They’re true. Whereas with a lot of these big-budget superhero films, they’re small—when the film ends, I stop caring. The same goes for Apichatpong Weerasethakul. As Denis Johnson writes, “When Mystery winks at you…” that’s when I sit up straight. There’s a love and generosity for the characters. It’s the opposite of cruelty. I see so much cruelty towards characters, and thus, in a way, cruelty towards an audience. I’m so tired of that. I feel that I’m moving away from that.
There’s a very careful attention to sound you have in your works. All your films are pretty quiet, but Here is the most willing to allow us to inhabit the space of the environments. There are field recordings, and everyone who speaks dialogue does so in the quietest tone, in a very slow, gentle manner.
For my first feature film, I started working with a sound designer named Boris Debackere, who has done all my films. He mostly works for artists’ films—he barely does fiction films, and especially not features; the only feature films he’s done are my own. I was referred to him through a friend—a fellow filmmaker here in Belgium named Herman Asselberghs. I mean this in the most positive way, but Boris doesn’t know anything about fiction films (laughter). He knows how to do sound, and he has good taste, and his work is very beautiful, but to clean up dialogue and edit it right—it’s not really his thing. And so I worked with him on Violet and it took a lot of time because it was different from what he normally does; there was technical clean-up involved, and he’s capable of doing it, but he had to set his mind to it.
We felt very free. I had never worked with a sound designer before, and he had never worked on a fiction film, and we both had no idea how it was normally done. We asked ourselves, “How far can we push this?” In Violet it goes really far. There are moments when the 5.1 surround sound goes to the mono speaker in front, and then it opens again. When I spoke to the rerecording mixer, who was mixing the film, he was like, “You can’t do that.” And we were like, “Why not?” (laughter). And we tried it and it sounded great and he was like, “Ah, I guess you can do that.” (laughter). These are the sort of things that Boris is able to do. We also started growing a database of sounds that we collected. We like to come back to some of these sounds, and we have all these recordings of different textures. We both have a sensitivity towards sound. For the second film Hellhole, we worked with Chris Watson. Do you know him?
Oh yeah. He’s legendary.
He is. He came to Brussels to record sound here and he started recording with this ambisonic microphone that records sound in a 3D environment, which means that as long as you have enough speakers to surround you, you can recreate that space. Unless you’re making an action film and have Dolby Atmos, you don’t really have that, you just have the 5.1. But with this microphone, you can create this space in the 5.1, and it’s really beautiful how you can treat sound like that. For example, we were recording in this swamp-like park and there were trains passing by on one side and then we had trees creaking on the other. And then in the distance there are sounds of the city. And you can just place that in the cinema—the trains and trees are there, everything in front of you and behind you is there, and you can even turn it around.
We were amazed when Chris showed us the possibilities of this tool, which is mainly used in VR. So we went and bought one and started recording these ambisonic sounds. For the film, he had in mind that we would need a lot of moments where nature could engulf you, where you could step into nature. There are moments when Stefan is out at night and sees fireflies. And then the next shot is him walking up, and we just open up the sound and it surrounds you. The nice thing is that it’s an actual sound from an actual space; it’s not recreated with multiple layers, as it is normally done—there’s a strong sense of unity in the sound. We thought a lot about that—how can we place characters in a specific spot? And quietness in general is adding to the idea of attention. How quiet can we go? What arises when things go quiet?
That’s awesome. And it’s great that you worked with Chris Watson.
We’ve kept in contact and he very kindly provided sounds for Here, and did so for Ghost Tropic. We were hoping to bring him back to Brussels but we didn’t have the funding. Maybe for the next film. He’s really special, and it goes beyond the fact that he’s just a treasure trove of knowledge—he’s a really kind human being. And he’s just the best namedropper in the world (laughter). He was like, “Oh, yesterday night I was talking to Richard.” He was talking about Aphex Twin (laughter). Or he’ll be like, “I was just in the studio with this Icelandic artist.” He was talking about Björk (laughter).
Is there anything we didn’t talk about that you want to bring up?
No, I just feel like I had the feeling I rambled a lot (laughs).
Oh no, it was great. I feel like I got a really good understanding of how you’ve progressed over the years through your films.
This is gonna sound really corny but when you get a little bit older, you start to feel like, “Shit, I really don’t need so much.” You start to think about the things that make you tick. For me it’s talking about deeply philosophical things with my seven-year-old daughter, it’s discussing feminism with my girlfriend, it’s going out on walks with Geert.
There’s a question I wanted to end my interview with: Do you mind sharing one thing you love about yourself?
(laughs). Wow, that’s a hard question. Are you gonna share one thing you love about yourself too?
Oh yeah, I can do that. Do you want me to go first?
Something I realized when becoming a teacher is that I’m really able to connect with people pretty easily. It’s easy for me to have conversations with anyone and to make them feel comfortable. That’s also why I like doing interviews. Like, I love all this. In my mind, the best thing in the world is having a conversation with someone while eating good food. We don’t have food right now, but we did talk about soups (laughter). I love that I love these conversations.
You’re about to tell me that this isn’t true because we just spent an hour and twenty-five minutes talking, but I don’t think so much about myself. I don’t think about who I am. Like this question of, “Who am I?” I noticed that many people spend time thinking about that, about trying to improve who they are. For me, I only see myself and exist in relation to others. I see myself in relation to my daughter, to my students. If you ask me the sort of question that you just did, “What do you love about yourself,” I really have to think. It requires a certain self-knowledge, and asking myself like, “How am I doing? Could I do better?” Maybe I should start doing that, huh (laughter).
Bas Devos’ Here played at this year’s Berlinale. Devos’ early short films can be viewed on his Vimeo page.
Thank you for reading the 25th issue of Film Show. Get on your knees and look at some moss.
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