Grands travaux is set in the Institute Anneessens-Funck, a Dutch-speaking vocational school in the centre of Brussels where young students have come to learn a trade. The film both documents and stages that which gives shape to their lives: the practical assignments and classes at school, football, the oscillation of their love lives, as well as the ongoing search for housing and employment. Depicting daily life within the school walls, Grands travaux also aims to sketch an image of Brussels today, placing its youngsters at the very centre.
Gerard-Jan Claes: Grands travaux might be considered a tentative cartography of the vocational school Anneessens-Funck. We mapped the various spaces of a place where the fragments of a disintegrated city converge. Just like with Because We Are Visual and Rain, constructing Grands travaux was closely related to a tension between inside and outside, between private and public space, between darkness and light... Essentially, Grands travaux is about how we might create new spaces in film. It’s a flowing geography, a movement through the polymorphous spaces inhabited by the boys.
Bjorn Gabriels in conversation with Olivia Rochette and Gerard-Jan Claes