"Grands travaux", a film by Olivia Rochette & Gerard-Jan Claes

"Grands travaux", a film by Olivia Rochette & Gerard-Jan Claes

Première 24 May 2016, Kunstenfestivaldesarts, Beursschouwburg

As graduates from the School of Arts – KASK in Ghent, Olivia Rochette and Gerard-Jan Claes, distinguished themselves with their first documentary films Because We Are Visual (2010) and Rain (2012), the latter commissioned by dance company Rosas. They are also the co-founders of Zéro de conduite, a film production and distribution platform, and Sabzian, a collection of online reflections on cinema. Their latest film Grands travaux is situated at the Institute Anneessens-Funck, a Dutch-speaking vocational school in the centre of Brussels where young students – sometimes with haste – have come to learn an occupation. Grands travaux documents and stages that which gives shape to their lives: the practical assignments and classes at school, football, the ups and downs of their love lives, as well as the ongoing search for housing and employment. Depicting the daily life within the school walls, Grands travaux also aims at sketching an image of Brussels today, placing its youngsters at the very centre.

Still © Olivia Rochette - Gerard-Jan Claes

Dates during the Kunstenfestivaldesarts, Brussels (at Beursschouwburg)

24/05 – 20:30
25/05 – 17:00
26/05 – 21:00
27/05 – 19:00
28/05 – 21:00 

NL / FR I 100’ I tickets (most of the dates are already sold out). 

Meet the artists after the film on 25/05.

A publication on Grands travaux written by Bjorn Gabriels will be available at the Beursschouwburg. (text in Dutch and English). See preview attached. 


Documentary filmmakers Gerard-Jan Claes and Olivia Rochette live and work in Brussels. Rarely a sentence worth a dime a dozen, the likes of which are frequently used in bio-blurbs, was so telling. Their new documentary Grands travaux is, indeed, just that: living and working in Brussels. For the filmmaking duo as well as for the pupils at the vocational school Anneessens-Funck with whom they collaborated.

In previous work, Claes and Rochette already paid attention to the environment in which youngsters grow up, and to the way their world is imagined. In 2010, they graduated from KASK – School of Arts in Ghent with Because We Are Visual, an audiovisual essay that encapsulates the diverse, exuberant mood swings of young YouTubers. The meandering montage of online video diaries exudes both the carefree freedom and the stifling oppression young people experience while frankly and unpretentiously expressing their grief, dreams, mischief and joy. The characters of Because We Are Visual realize that they are flirting with the boundaries between private and public, but embrace the anonymous public space of the Internet. After all, in these images they exist.

With their graduation film, Claes and Rochette won a Wildcard from the Flemish Audiovisual Fund, which allowed them to start with Grands travaux. But first they made their debut film Rain (2012), commissioned by Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker’s dance company Rosas, for which they have been providing audiovisual work since their student days. The documentary Rain turns to the restaging of De Keersmaeker’s eponymous choreography at the Ballet de l’Opéra national in Paris. Through the preparatory work of the dancers, the film looks at the friction between classical ballet and contemporary dance in the wings of the Opera. The personal involvement of Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker, who often follows the rehearsal process from a distance, breaks through in recordings of telephone conversations with her closest collaborators. Again, the cinematic space embodies an encounter.

In 2013, Rochette and Claes co-founded the production and distribution platform Zéro de conduite with teacher and documentary filmmaker Elias Grootaers. Together, they organize film programs at the Beursschouwburg, where Rochette and Claes have been ‘associated artists’ from 2013 to 2016. In 2013, they were also co-founders of Sabzian, an online platform whose agenda and reflections about cinema set out to foster a vivid cinephile culture. These initiatives contribute to a discursive space in which films and reflections about films incite each other to constantly re-think how cinema relates to life.

The interplay of reading and writing, showing and looking, filming and being filmed also sparked their latest film, Grands travaux. Searching for form as filmmakers, they find the boys at Anneessens-Funck searching for a home, work, a future... Claes and Rochette made a film in close collaboration with the youngsters Ahmadou Barry, Mamadou Diallo, Achmed Xussein and Mohamed Abdi. They met each other in a game of forms, in a film.


A film by Olivia Rochette & Gerard-Jan Claes  I With Mohamud Mohamed Abdi, Ahmadou Oury Barry, Mamadou Diallo, Achmed Xussein I Image Olivia Rochette I Sound Gerard-Jan Claes I Editing Dieter Diependaele I Sound editing Ingrid Simon, Sabrina Calmels I Sound mixing Thomas Gauder I Color correction Raphaëlle Dufosset I Second camera Ruben Desiere I Additional sound recording Lennert De Taeye, Nina de Vroome I Mentor Elias Grootaers 

Production Savage Film, Bart Van Langendonck I Co-production Beursschouwburg, Zéro de conduite I Supported by Vlaams Audiovisueel Fonds (VAF), Belgian Tax Shelter, Le Centre du Cinéma de la Fédération Wallonie Bruxelles, Creative Europe Programme – MEDIA European Commission, Vlaamse Gemeenschaps- commissie I In association with Eyeworks, Scio Productions, VRT / Canvas

About Beursschouwburg

Beursschouwburg is an arts centre, situated in the heart of Brussels, that embraces a hybrid and multidisciplinary identity. It’s the perfect place for performance, film, music, exhibitions, debates, lectures, parties and a drink at beurscafé. 

Beursschouwburg provides a platform for young and innovative artistes, thus it’s the place to discover the big names of tomorrow. Young talent, cross-fertilization and an opportunity to experiment are pivotal in the diverse programme which seamlessly coalesces with the generation 2.0.

A. Ortsstraat 20-28
1000 Brussel