Film 1 (Piranha Blues) * Willem Wallyn * 1999

A Belgian film in Dutch language (or Flemish if you like) that plays with on the background one of Belgians biggest political scandals of recent times, the Augusta-affair, a massive corruption scandal with military helicopters. The trial was in late 1998.

The father of the succesfull lawyer Willem Wallyn (Peter van den Begin) is one of the accused. The TV- journalist Johannes van Buren (Herbert Flack) wants to make a juice story and choses Wallyn as his victim to exploit. Just before the the first coverage in the main-newsbulletin, Wallyn and Van Buren run into eachother and get an argument. Shortly after Wallyn saw the news in his office with his colleagues, he picks up the plan to take the power of media and turn it around. With two friends he kidnaps Van Buren and starts to dig out his life in search for scandals. The rest of the film is mostly filled with discussions of the journalist who both wants to be a correct person/journalist, but also wants attention and fame and on the other side the succesfull lawyer who sees his name already affected by the trial against his father, but even further by Van Buren’s coverage. Wallyn more or less justifies his actions by the unjust against his father.

Indeed the director of this film is one of the main characters in the story. There are several people playing themselves in it as well. Seemingly Wallyn wants to show the power of the media with this film. The title “Film 1” refers to the fact that there are always two sides of the story, in this case, the side of Van Buren and the side of Wallyn. Nobody is interested in the first version, the not-juicy and not-all-giving version, but this is the version that we get here, the version of the journalist Van Buren. The irony in Wallyn’s approach is obvious, since he doesn’t give his own version of a story that is not told to be true or made up.
Stylistically this film is particularly special. It opens with a cut-up monologue of Willem Wallyn to the viewer and then a long opening with pictures of helicopters and fighters made by the Augusta company I asume. The soundtrack is totally incorporated in the film and pictures change with the music which is really well done. Especially in the beginning there is quite a lot of what they call “hip-hop assembly”, rapidly changing images with a heavy score. Some funny camera-effects and the suggestion that half the film is shot during the film with a handycam adds to the effect. The second half of the film is more focussed on ‘oral violence’ so to say.

A very nice debut for sure. I don’t know how you should get to see this film though, I personally saw it on the Belgian public television.

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