24 Cafés and three bakeries, a ferry, a butcher’s shop and a supermarket. That was Doel in its heyday. Today the city has a reputation as an adventure park for adults. Illegal car racing and techno raves fill the streets by night, during the day tourists in mini-buses debate whether graffiti are a form of art or just a sign of the decline (of manners). In his portrait of Doel, however, Frederik Sølberg doesn’t film the abandoned houses on the background of Antwerp’s expanding harbour but focuses on the people who have remained in their hometown. Some in defiance of the constraints of the situation, others because they see a chance to open up new spaces for themselves here.
Sølberg’s warm-hearted observations of the residents raise the question of the right to a home. Where is the people’s place when globalisation gobbles up their traditional spaces? The community of old and young people fight the dilapidation of the houses with gallows humour and an awareness of their curious situation. They aren’t ready yet to give up their home. Sølberg manages to capture the points of intersection between the residents, adventure tourists and the tuning scene, who share this place without really meeting.