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Film about aftermath of terrorist attacks opens next week

19:28 11/03/2019

The new film Hellhole by Belgian director Bas Devos (Violet), which follows the stories of several people affected by the terrorist attacks of 2016, opens next week. The film will be released in cinemas on Wednesday, 20 March, two days before the third anniversary of the attacks.

The film is quietly detached, hovering around the characters who move through the city a bit like ghosts. Wannes is a doctor who cares for people in the aftermath of the bombings, while one of his patients, Mehdi, has no idea how to deal with being a Muslim in Brussels anymore. Mehdi’s colleague Samira is much more outspoken about her anger and fear, a fear shared by Alba, an Italian translator at the European institutions.

The fiction feature impressed critics at its world premiere at the Berlin Film Festival last month, with Cinevue calling it “as politically bleak as it is stylistically rigorous,” and Cineuropa saying that Brussels is “a city struck at the heart by emptiness, the absence of those who are no longer here, a terrible combination of loneliness and fear”.

Hellhole is a portrait of Brussels at a very specific moment of time, the aftermath of the terrorist attack of 22 March 2016,” Devos told Bruzz. “Basically, you get a sort of sensory, auditory and visual condition of the city. It’s a very atmospheric film.”

The film, titled after the word US president Donald Trump used to describe to Brussels, premieres in Belgium on 19 March at cinemas in several cities, including Flagey. It then opens wide the following day.

Hunger strike over

In related news, the Brussels Airport employee who went on hunger strike last month in protest at the lack of legislation for victims of terrorist-related incidents has ended the strike. He did so because Charles Michel assured him that legislation was on the way shortly.

Philippe Vandenberghe is a computer scientist at the airport and was one of the first on the scene when two suicide bombers attacked on 22 March 2016. He has since suffered from Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSS), he told Bruzz.

“Doctors here have no idea what PTSS is, and they don’t ask advice from any other specialists,” he said. Following assurances from Michel, Vandenberghe stopped his hunger strike, which had lasted for 25 days.

Written by Lisa Bradshaw