A portrait of the Norbertijnenabdij in Heverlee, made for television. The camera slides along walls and balustrades, treads carefully on stairs and portrays the daily life of the monks.
At the start of his long career within the Belgian public broadcasting system, Jef Cornelis produced a total of three films about historic buildings: the Landcommanderij at Alden Biesen, a military castle in Bilzen; and the Abdij van het Park, a monastery in Heverlee; and the Kasteel de Merode, a bourgeois castle in Westerlo. The second film in the series, Abdij van het Park Heverlee, was first broadcast on 25 December 1964. The camera slides along walls and balustrades, carefully climbs upstairs and captures the Norbertine monks moving along in formations. The camera work, as it were, emphasizes the eternal truth of faith. Yet what starts as a true ode to this centuries-old heritage ends in an act of unmasking.
“I look for a structure and when I’ve found it, I present it very rigidly, as minimally as possible. By the way, I pushed the camera myself. You can ask around, I pushed everything myself. I engaged myself completely. And maybe that has always been the danger, that I was very radical.”