a short story

Wil Mathijs was born in 1977 in the fruit plantations of Belgium. At the age of 13 he started to make small experimental films on a hi8 camera he borrowed from his neighbour. With 4 Revox Reel-to-Reel recorders and an old 8 channel mixing desk, he made his first mesmerizing soundscapes (still today but digital). As an advance on his legacy, he got a Fujica 35mm photocamera and lenses from his father and began photographing in the same year, 1990.

He studied at the Film Academy, Sint Lukas in Brussels & SHIVKV Genk. In 1998 he directed his first official shortfilm AQUAREL, which premiered at the Viennale in Austria. He worked 13 years as a freelancer producer on documentary and feature films, TVfilms, corporates, commercials, shorts and TVshows for several national and international companies and broadcast channels such as BBC, RTBF, France 2, ZDF, SRG, ARTE, CANVAS, VPRO, VTM, VT4 and others.

But a big void kept gazing at him… The search for the personal essence…

Most of his work, including watercolors, poems, tapes, videos, filmscripts & more then +/- 2000 35mm negatives got lost or destroyed. He moved houses and preferred to travel light. Boxes full of stuff always end up in the skip. In many cases he simply threw his work away due to several reasons, such as new beginnings. For him the joy is in the making not in archiving.

Since 4 years he photographs again, mainly in black & white on digital as well as 35mm. Travelling in Europe and America, always from a documentary point of view he came up with a selection of new series. Dust & Glory is a series on damaged souls he encountered on the road. They are all on the loose, waiting for something that probably doesn't exist, trying to kill time, wasted or awake doesn’t matter. Inner State is shot in the metro in Paris, isolated and alienated, dooming distorted lost creatures. His single photos often bring us to places where we enter the city as a purgatory space, as an omega ville, dark and abandoned landscapes, a lonely dog. Or forgotten human arte-facts and the search for magic realism in what’s left behind as a kind of industrial romance...

Wil currently works on a new series of black & white 35mm prints. Les Enfants Qui Ne Sont Pas Encore Totalement Perdus is his most recent work, shot in 35mm printed on fiber paper. Shot in 2016 in France where Wil is an artist in residence at Ma Scene National and works with kids with a very difficult personal background.

As a videomaker, his loop Belgian Journey was exhibited at the MIAT in Ghent (Museum for Industrial Architecture & Textile). The video was showcased by ISELP Brussels for the “Déplier L’Histoire” exhibition in 2014 as a group exhibition with artists as Jasper Rigole and Sarah Vanagt. Belgian Journey was conceived in 2009 after Wil restaurated the old 50’s 8mm archive of his grandparents during their colonial years. The film fell apart during the first projections and Wil decided to reconstruct the family footage in a personal and quite unconventional way, working with several manual-, chemical- & video techniques. The film tells the intimate story both of a family as well as a national collective memory from a highly critical & ethical angle.

His video We Have Them was screened in 15 different museums and galleries in Belgium, The Netherlands, Egypt and China.

As a filmmaker he focuses on documentary, fiction & experimental films made from a particular personal perspective mostly driven by social (sur)realism, contemplation, nature and art with universal relevance via the production box Elementrik Films.

His critically acclaimed feature documentary CELLS is about bio artist Martin Uit den Bogaard, the beauty of organic decay, the descrepancy between the rights of an artist and the ones of a scientist and our moral make-believes regarding our own body. The movie was released in Art Houses in November 2014 and travelled to the official selections of NYC Independent Film Festival, Ostend Film Festival, Docville International Documentary Film Festival and the biggest Art Film Festival in the world, The FIFA Montréal 2015. CELLS is distributed & represented for international broadcast by Visible Films. CELLS was supported by the Flemish Audiovisual Fund and the Belgian Federal Taxshelter.

The new, upcoming documentary On the Edge of Happiness is just finished and ready for festivals and distribution. The film is a personal and critical view on the current Inter-European migration & homeless crisis, unfolding in the industrial wasteland of Kafkaesque Belgium. This raw and observational ‘direct cinema’ film is coproduced by Ikon (Dutch Broadcaster) & co-financed by Province East-Flanders, City of Ghent and the Belgian Federal Taxshelter and will be released in 2017.

Wil is currently working on new films such as Some of these things and a film on the famous painter Léon Spilliaert. As a commercial filmmaker he makes movie content for labels, companies and brands for their online and other needs.