An Angel in Doel
Tom Fassaert, The Netherlands, 2011, black and white, HDcam, 76'
The Belgian village of Doel is stuck between a nuclear power plant and the growing harbors of Antwerp. For decades now, the village's existence has been threatened by the advancing harbor, and most of the old inhabitants have left to create a new existence elsewhere. Filmmaker Tom Fassaert first came to Doel a few years ago, and decided to capture its demise on camera. The atmospheric black-and-white footage in the resulting film highlights the progressing emptiness and decay of a village growing quieter by the day. The protagonists of the film are the remaining villagers, with 75-year-old Emilienne at their center. She has steadfastly refused to move and will probably be the village's final resident. The film shows the tragic end of this village in images of empty streets and dilapidated houses, where the silence is shattered only by echoing birdsong and the thundering wrecking balls. These images are intercut with scenes of village life, which is slowly but surely disappearing. Fewer and fewer people join Emilienne at her kitchen table, once the heart of village activity.