Carnotstraat 17

Carnotstraat 17 (2015) is a feature documentary looking more closely into the effect on someone’s identity through migration. A new film by Klara Van Es.


Carnotstraat 17 is the second documentary by Klara Van Es, following her successful debut Lost Down Memory Lane, a film about Alzheimer’s Disease and, more so, about (self-)consciousness and personal identity. Carnotstraat 17 likewise explores the notion of individuality. The title refers to an address in the centre of Antwerp that provides the perfect backdrop for a documentary about identity and migration, or, to be more precise, for a cinematographic inquiry into the effects of migration on individuals’ self-perception.

The setting is a somewhat seedy-looking 1920’s apartment building. Today, the ground floor serves as a prayer house of the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God, or UCKG, a Pentecostal Christian organisation rooted in Brazil that has expanded across the world. In days gone by, this venue was known as Ciné Rubens, one of Belgium’s largest and most modern film theatres.

The five-storey facade above is made up of balconies and bay windows exuding a certain fin-de-siècle charm, despite a scattering of satellite dishes. In the entrance hall of the building, the names on the rows of letterboxes and doorbells provide an obvious clue as to the many different nationalities living under this roof: Romanians, Moroccans, Burkinabés, Nepalese, Armenians and Tibetans. Almost all the tenants in this building are migrants in search for an identity.

Identity and migration are important notions, touching upon the very essence of the self. They are also highly charged, or at least have become so over the past two decades, both in this country and far beyond.

Klara Van Es feels it is time to seek out ‘the Others’ and listen openly and without prejudice to what they have to say about the impact of migration and how the transition from one society to another has affected, distorted even, their self-perception and identity. What is preserved and what is lost? What is absorbed and what is rejected? And, equally important, how do the Others perceive Us? How do They see themselves in Our midst?


Carnotstraat 17 has received script and production support by the Flanders Audiovisual Fund, The Dutch Film Fund, Cobo Fund and supported by De Provincie Antwerpen and Impulsfonds voor Migrantenbeleid. As with the earlier documentary of Klara Van Es, Memphis Film & Television, based in Utrecht, The Netherlands is acting as co-producer. Carnotstraat 17 is also co-production with the broadcasters VRT/Canvas and Human.

film website