Gods of Molenbeek – Aatos ja Amine Review

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“Gods van Molenbeek” or Gods of Molenbeekis a captivating documentary by the Finnish director Reetta Huhtanen. It is about the friendship between two six-year-old boys who live in the Molenbeek district in Brussels. According to the press, the Chilean / Finnish Aatos and his neighbor, Amine, Muslim, live in a “hotbed of jihad.” That may be true, but it is also just the world of the two friends who play there and talk about their image of God. Aatos explores the neighborhood with its self-made periscope, disguises itself as the gods Hermes and Thor and sets out with nature classmate Flo in nature. He asks life questions there: “Is God nature?” The compelling Flo gives an intriguing answer: “Do you believe in humanity or in nature?”

You sometimes forget that you are dealing with six-year-olds, but in the world in which they live every day, there is, of course, a different scene to see from one day to the next. The attacks on the metro in Brussels and Zaventem airport play a role in the background: the controls at the entrance of the metro, the broadcasting in the metro, the multitude of soldiers on the street and the news that tells how many people are dead and injured. The street noise at a demonstration/demonstration: “We are Muslims, not terrorists!” In short: just stand by as a six-year-old.

The two different worlds of Amine and Aatos fall away as they play: they listen to spiders, fly to Arabia on a carpet (according to Amine to “the desert with the spirits”), steppes, play football or dress up as a mummy. Aatos listens from the Finnish tradition to stories in which several gods figure and Amine reads with his father in the Koran and then prays.

Disarming. A term that certainly applies when you hear the three main characters in “Gods van Molenbeek” talk. Aatos asks his mother: “Mama, why did those people die?” Together with Amine, he wonders “why people go to war”. The two argue in the mosque about who the greatest God is and whether Jesus is the son of God or a prophet. We see the talks at school, Aatos about the golden eagle and Flo about fear. She describes this as “a defect that causes problems” (!!! ???). Again, we are dealing with six-year-olds here … You would almost lie on the couch with the very early Flo. Aatos declares to be afraid “because we can die.” And to the question: “What is there after death?” Flo is told that it is “a big, big black hole.” Pfoe, these are big themes for small children. So add disconcerting and moving but disarming. The director films the boys close to the skin, the faces are full of expression. And then there is the end, which stirs to tears. Aatos moving to Finland: “I want to keep playing with Amine.” And Amine, who knows better, is comforted by his mother when Aatos drives away …

“Gods van Molenbeek” shows the “normal” life through the eyes of six-year-olds. But yes, how “normal” is life? Such young children would by no means have to talk about these topics. But how beautiful that at times they can forget everything around them and be a child. Because they still are, children. Children who grow up very early due to changing circumstances. This should be banned in every neighborhood of the world.

Aatos ja Amine (2019) Documentary | 1h 13min | 9 August 2019 (Finland) 7.6
Director: Reetta HuhtanenWriters: Reetta HuhtanenSummary: The district of Molenbeek-Saint-Jean in Brussels has become world-famous as a center of jihadism, but for six-year-old Aatos and his friend Amine, it is a familiar home. Here, they listen to spiders, discover black holes, and fight about what is going to steer a flying carpet. Together they search for the answers to life's big questions. But the brutality of the adult world makes itself known when terrorists detonate a bomb in the neighborhood. Aaatos envies Amine's Muslim faith and looks for his own gods, although his classmate Flo questions him; she is strongly convinced that anyone who believes in God is completely nuts. Gods of Molenbeek is a wonderful portrayal of childhood friendship, inquiry and the creation of meaning in a chaotic time.

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