Passepartout is all about documentaries and visual stuff I find worth seeing.

Last day of 2014.

I’m ready. Ready for two things: to go back to The Netherlands (in a couple of hours) and to start 2015 (in just a little bit more than a couple of hours). The first thing is almost completely true. I am in a hotel room in Bucharest, everything is white outside and it’s sunny and I’m feeling I could be here just a little bit longer, but it somehow feels that 2015 has to start home in The Netherlands. I don’t know why, perhaps because most of my life is now there.

I don’t believe in New Years resolutions, I think they’re bound to fail because they’re rooted in the temporary feeling of a ‘new chance’, a new start and they usually don’t start with self-acceptance but with a hyper drive to revolutionize ourselves. And I don’t believe we need that. But I do believe in deciding to live something new and something different, whether you begin that on the 1st of January or on the 20th of September. And I hope this year will bring some of those de-clicks when changes feel right.

I hope to travel more this year, to write more and better, to make a couple of the projects I planned in 2014 reality. I hope to run a marathon (did half-marathon this year). But most of all I hope to have a year lived from the heart, with compassion, with surprises and people, and with a lot of (inner) peace. Wish you all the same!

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The Romania I love: a photo series about the surprising and the charms I’ll miss

I’m leaving Romania today and going back to The Netherlands, and it’s also the last day of the year and the last 2014 post on Passepartout, and somehow it feels just right to show you these photos. Hajdu Tamas doesn’t only seem to be at the right place at the right time, he actually has an eye for everything I love in Romania – the bitter-sweet, the absurd, the sentimental and the everyday surprising with an Eastern flavor. I think the kind of things he photographs are everywhere here, if you pay attention. And for some reason that fails me, many people see this as a mark of inadequacy and not of something to embrace and enjoy.

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Pay attention: portrays of an orangutan and all that magic point to an environmental issue in Indonesia

Look what I found! This chimp – Man of the Forest, photographed by Ernest Goh touched me and made me wonder. Yes, I know, you’ll say Bianca, this is precisely what you talked about in your previous post. It’s called anthropomorphism and this is what you’re doing right now. And how could I deny that? And eventually…why not? As long as we see, and feel and keep in mind that it’s more than ‘just a monkey‘. He is much more. And he’s in danger.

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Do they resemble us or we resemble them? A photo series inviting us to question our relationship with animals

Wikipedia says that anthropomorphism is the attribution of human form or other characteristics to anything other than a human being. And I think that’s one of the most imaginative and empathetic things we do: we see faces and gestures and symbols in things, and most of all, in animals. We want to recognize ourselves in the world outside and we project what we know and how we are in places where they don’t exist. But doing that makes our lives more playful. And it helps us relate better to animals for example. And this is precisely what London-based photographer Tim Flach is counting on. His More Than Human photo series is an eye-candy with a twist.

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Christmas.

You know, Santa came last night, got a lot of nice surprises including a tablet that will make my work and my extended readings much easier. The tree I made pretty all by myself fell down twice, we met with friends, had some wine and good talks. This is by far the warmest Christmas I have ever seen, no snow and warm wind. And I don’t mind, really.

And yes, early morning, fresh air, I discovered Santa came this morning again. Our cats knew it’s the season of giving, so they gave.

Merry Christmas everyone!

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Oversized: surreal photos of animals in the middle of the city reminding they used to be welcome there too

Liu Di is a Chinese photographer and his Animal Regulation series is about breaking mental patterns of what our cities look or should look like, and have a thought of two about animals and how urban growth impacts them, or to be more accurate, excludes them from our life. Now that’s a good subject for reflection, and I know a thing or two about this. I could tell you about the fox I met in my street because we’re basically expanding our neighborhood on her land and she kinda lost her way. I could tell you about the hedgehog shelter I volunteered at, where wounded hedgehogs come to get better after being hit by something while trying to cross the street, because they do remember their home used to be on the other side. Or I could say nothing, nothing at all, just wish everyone not to see concrete and flats out of their windows, but green and animals, or even a giant bunny or an elephant (my guess is that the huge frog won’t be most people’s first choice).

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Home in an unfriendly place: a photo portrayal of life in the city of Norilsk, close to the polar circle

Here it is: Norilsk – photographed by Russian photographer Elena Chernyshova. You’ve probably never heard of the city, and there’s no particular reasons you should have. Its list of achievements include being the 7th most polluted city in the world. That’s no surprise, Norilsk is a mining city, the closest to the polar circle. Its mines and metallurgical factories were constructed by prisoners of the Gulag. All together, there’s no happy story there, and yet, there’s something charming in these photos looking into life there and, in Chernyshova’s words, looking at ‘human adaptation to extreme climate, ecological disaster and isolation’. I love the photos, their details, hidden symbols and atmosphere. But life there must be really tough.

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Not your usual family picture: portraits of farm animals

Glossy magazine-like, Rob MacInnis‘ photos of farm animals point at two issues: the way we consume images, and the way we consume these cool fury guys. I find the images bitter-sweet. I’m not so touched by the consuming images issues, but certainly touched by the thought of the ‘real life and destination’ these animals have.

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Early morning happiness

I’m back home and back home one can find things and beings close to their heart.

This pointy nose is dear to me. We met this morning.

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Satellites: photos capturing the uneasy post-communist feel in the ex-USSR republics

The reasons why I find this series interesting 10 years after it was made go beyond the fact that I am 1/4 Moldavian, that I am interested in the Caucasus and in Central Asia, and that photographer Jonas Bendiksen traveled to every single place I want to travel to sometime soon. It is actually about how these photos manage to capture the feel that all these very different places have in common, the feeling of a shared soviet past. It’s also about a certain awkwardness I am familiar with, an awkwardness he seems to have looked for in all the obscure corners. And about the fact that 10 years later, some of these places are less unstable than back then, and yet, not much has changed. ‘Many of these places are quaintly obscure, but as I came to discover, they offer stark proof that the breakup of the Soviet Union is still a work in progress’ said Bendiksen long ago. And 10 years later it still is work in progress.

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Break-up: a photo series illustrating the inner phases of letting go

I didn’t break up with Mr M. and it’s no longer November, but both have nothing to do with how personal this photo series is and feels. I saw these photos some time ago and then I forgot the name of the photographer, the name of the series, I only remembered some keywords: women, break-up, feelings and Paris. And of course, I remembered the strong images that link these keywords: images of women, and their feelings after breaking up with the one they loved. In Paris. In the end the mix of words was enough to re-find Laura Stevens‘ photo project called Another November.

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IDFA2014 (part I): Six new docs you shouldn’t miss

This year’s IDFA had a lot of interesting stuff, including some new program sections like The Female Gaze, about women and their fingerprints on the genre; Of Media and Men of which the title speak for itself; and the really exciting DocLab: Immersive Reality program, where I had my first IR experience. DocLab is one of the IDFA programs I follow year after year, and this year I feel it was a sort of a turning point because of the special focus on IR. I will write more about this later.

This was my fourth year at IDFA. Or fifth? Not even sure. And, as usual, except for hunting for stuff I needed for my articles, I got to watch a lot of films I wanted to see. And even though I had five full days at the festival, I still feel I could have watched even more films but I ‘wasted’ to much time on coffee and sleep.

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