A cheerless chill. Watching yet another Netflix production, I felt tricked into a mind-numbing waste of time once more. That uncanny feeling of seeing without believing. Until I found my salvation: Video Express and chill.
I enter Juan Borbolla’s shop, the last videoclub in Brussels. Rental DVDs abound. Juan is a prophet preaching the power of the motion picture since 1999. His goal? To spread his personal visions. But video killed the radio stars and now internet is killing the video stores. In the last decade, the number of video shops in Belgium fell from several hundreds to a couple of tens. Revenues plummeted. But Juan got by with a little help from his friends. In 2016, Amis du Vidéo Express organized a crowdfunding campaign to counter the loss of clientele. It allowed Juan to continue his daily movie services.
I stroll along the displays. Nostalgia gets its grip on me. I’m taken back to more tactile days. I caress the cases. The more than 25,000 movies seem chaotic. But clusters of Flemish, Iranian, Japanese, Russian, Korean & Italian cinema appear. Many smaller-scale productions unknown to me. Instead of looking for specific genres, directors or actors, I randomly pick a movie for the sake of surprise.
And God is in the details: I receive a DVD case with a hand-drawn cartoon and I pay €2,48 (i.e. 100 franks, Belgium’s former currency). I return the copy too late and should be fined. But not really.
Juan knows the end is inevitable. But before the apocalypse, Video Express saves the neighborhood.