Having long lingered in the shadows of Paris, Brussels is now home to a vital if emerging film community. The 10-film Belgian series "Voice and Visions" (at the Quad, December 4 through 10) includes eight New York premieres, among them two features by first-time directors in which Belgium appears as land of the lovelorn.
Rosie is set in a no-man's-land of dour apartment houses and abandoned fields of machinery, where the perennially gray weather colors all the characters' emotions. Director Patrice Toyne's sensitive debut film stars newcomer Aranka Coppens as a 13-year-old in juvenile detention for a mysterious crime. With its bedraggled, understated charm, the film offers a subtle portrait of a young girl's inner life unraveling.
In Frank Van Passel's Manneken Pis, Harry, a young man with a traumatic past and limited ambitions, gets on a tram in Brussels and falls in love with Jeanne, the driver. A comedy that begins with the suicide of a 70-year-old woman, Manneken Pis is decidedly off-kilter, but its deadpan humor and sweet performances are gently appealing.