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

First #SpotlightRomania is a wrap!

And I’m in for a new project already, not sure which one though but I’m ready to find it or find them.

The festival was great to make, great to witness it happening and be there, and also great that we got so much positive feedback and reactions we’d never expected. The Spotlight:Romania Exhibition in GEMAK has been prolonged for another month because of all the interest it received.

And I already need to think of something new, something fresh, what to do in 2016.

It’s not only the events I want to think about, but other things too. My new photo project, writing, what to do with this blog and the mixed feelings I have about what I should do with it. It’s seems that sometimes, the fact that I have so many ideas becomes my enemy. Each project that I come up with and some of the ones that are offered to me tempt me genuinely, and I’m so not good at being realistic about time and my capacity to do everything. Because in the end this is what it’s all about, me wanting to do all of them, and then time and energy saying neeeeh, we’re much shorter/lower/unavailable than you thought. No matter how much you stretch – and I do stretch a lot – not everything can be done. And that’s something hard for me to accept. Hell knows why.

What’s for sure is that the success of Spotlight:Romania gave me a taste of the rewards an extensive project can bring me. Of the fact that you can decide to go for something, and if you pursue it systematically enough, it just might happen. A taste of what it’s like to work with people as a team – me, the one allergic to the simple mentioning of the term, always willing to take over and do things by myself – this time it was good and enjoyable and it gave me energy and a certain feeling of belonging. And yes, the project gave me self-confidence and made me more humble and grateful at the same time. A good combination for the spirit and for the future.

I think I’m ready for holiday already. And for 2016.

And here’s a video of the opening of Spotlight:Romania. My speech included.

Hey? Anybody still around?

I know what you’re probably thinking, this place became really really quiet. And that’s true. It’s been quiet for a while and I’ve been a busy bee organizing a festival called Spotlight:Romania, my baby-project and long time dream. I am doing it with a friend, Corina, and together we started this cultural initiative called Eastwards, to take Eastern European culture and put it into events and happenings. And now we’re here and there and everywhere, pulling ropes and pushing doors to make Spotlight:Romania happen. And it will happen.

Facebook-ProfileMe, I’ve been curating a big exhibition of contemporary Romanian documentary photography, all the (Eastern) feel and the stories in one place. And we’re almost there, with the festival I mean, I’ll tell you all about it, I promise. Don’t give up on me and Passepartout because there are some really good things coming up. In a bit.

And if you’re in The Netherlands, please come. 3rd of October – 8th of November. We’ll have movies every Tuesday evening in De Nieuwe Regentes Theater (we have Aferim! and not only), the photos are to be seen in Gemak, and on top of that we have a pretty cool side program with workshops and docs. Keep an eye on our Eastwards page for all the events.

And on Passepartout for my stories. 😉



Running further and faster, and the bits of nature that make it so great

My schedule is so packed with appointments and things to do nowadays. Sometimes I feel I cannot handle it anymore, besides a full time job I have two projects in development (one is a film and photo festival, details later, shhhht!), volunteering and and a constant need to write. And while my full time job makes me feel claustrophobic, and I wish I had more time for everything else, even the things I love become a burden when there are too many things to do. So running brings back the balance. In everything. Mainly in my heard and my mind.

I started running in the morning now. And here’s what that looks like. IMG_20150511_125109






My happy five days trip back to Cluj

For the last five days I’ve been back to Cluj, in Romania, the city where I went to University and where now I travel for a course to learn about biography counseling (if curious about what this is, read here). I’ve been here at the end of February this year and wrote this after.

The course felt pretty intense this time, I had to wake up early and be in the course until the evening, but I also got some time to meet old friends, have lunch with my parents who traveled 500 km for that and explore something I didn’t even realize I miss: markets.

And I got gifts! So many gifts! I feel so spoiled and overwhelmed by all the love and care I felt. I have no photos of the gifts but they vary from a beautiful ring, to a pair of really pretty handmade gloves, to a traditional chicken shaped whistle to good tools for my drawings and a gorgeous skirt. I also treated myself to some books and those strawberries below.

I go back the The Netherlands tomorrow.

poza(15)Waking up with the love of a 7 kg cat.

poza(23)Learning about biography is an outside the box process.

poza(14)Tsuki the saved from a shelter dog.

poza(13)Flowers bought on the street for a friend.

poza(12)A place where I used to meet friends when I was a student.


poza(11)A fierce mom!

poza(16)A treat!

poza(20)The look of love. Heavy love.

poza(21)A flower from my parents garden that traveled 500 km to me.

poza(22)My mom and I.

The 6 AM project, decluttering and some other enthusiastic experiments

There are no other enthusiastic plans. Just these two, but it sounded good for the title. Anyway, these two are quite a handful. Let me tell.

The 6 AM project means I will wake up at 6 AM every day, or at least every week day, in an attempt to enlarge my day, my perception of time and bottom line my writing, reading and other things that I actually love time. Running included. Having this time is essential for my inner peace and balance, and since lately my schedule got so cluttered, well, I plan to de-clutter it. I had so little time lately that when I actually did get some space to do something, I got so stressed out, wanting to maximize those moments that in the end… I didn’t do much. So 6 AM. You know all that theory about habit forming, give it 30 days, etc. Well, I don’t know that.

Now decluttering is my new favorite word. It’s because I really am doing that. I have too many of many things and I am in the process of selecting them and donating them. Now my heart doesn’t do well with these things. Objects make me remember, they literally lock stories for me and unlock them when I look at them. They keep the stories I forget and then I keep them to keep the stories. And yet, there should always be new space, for new stories, right?

Now here’s the thing, I actually bought a book to help me in this process. Yes, someone actually wrote a book about cleaning and tidying with skill and grace, it’s a Japanese woman that cuts through people’s labyrinth of stuff and won’t stop until it’s all finished, labyrinth gone. The book is called prophetically – The Life-changing Magic of Tidying – and her name is Marie Kondo and she actually patented her method of cleaning. Imagine that I’ve only been reading the first chapter and I already got rid of two huge bags of clothes. So it works. It’s magic. It’s Marie Kondo who loved housewives magazines since she was a kid. Admitting that and making cleaning a job…how eccentric is that in a housewives-are-not-cool world?


Books I Read: Some Advice from a Dear Lady

The title makes it sound like a self-help book but it’s not. It’s ex US president Franklin’ D. Roosevelt’s wife, a smart, remarkable and privileged lady, sharing some of the things she learned throughout her life.

Through the pages you can feel who she is and her background, a background I am fairly sure few of us share. But that’s really not the point. The point is that she’s so honest and warm in what she says and so human and honest. And she’s not afraid to be vulnerable and tell true stories. And yes, there’s a tone of good advice in this book.

As you can see I have been studying it intensely: it rained on it, my lunch box leaked on it and many other stuff. But it stays strong just as the lady who wrote it.


I met someone very special.

Last night. I went with a friend to watch the documentary The Free Voice of Egypt (directed by Konstanze Burkard) at the Movies That Matter Festival. I knew she would be there for a debate, much later. But as we were waiting for the movie to begin, there she was coming, and she sat next to us. Nawal El Saadawi.

That’s very special at the Movies That Matter, people you see in the films become real walking people while you’re there. And she certainly is very special to me, for how witty and warm and coherent she is about big issues. She can talk about something enormous in a way that has meaning and makes great sense. She’s warm and powerful and often the two don’t come together in a person. And she is fearless, she doesn’t compromise her ideas, she speaks her mind. I doubt she was never afraid. I am sure she was. But it is people that can be greater than their fears the ones who make a change.

She is an inspiration to me, and even though the term has been used and abused so much that it lost a good part of its weight…well, she really is special to me, full weight.

Article about the films and all the good things I have seen and heard to follow soon.



Something to watch that I watched and loved


Movies That Matter began this Friday. I look forward to this week of films, even though it’s hard to imagine how another film could be more complex and disturbing and complete and touching than Toto and His Sisters (directed by Alexander Nanau). Keep you posted.

Early morning charm

I began training for the marathon in September. Yesterday morning I did the first run from a series that will take months, about four times every week. It’s exciting and a little bit scary to think of the marathon. I did half marathon last September and half way through I got a cramp that ran with me to the end. Now the distance is double. What if. I ask myself what if just briefly and then I move on to the feeling of challenge, freedom and adventure this training and running in general give me.

And yesterday was really special because I somehow magically woke up before 7 (almost never happens on a work day) and decided to get dressed, I basically jumped from my pyjama in my running clothes, brushed my teeth and went outside. And then there was this quietness. The fresh cold morning air. The white frost all over the grass. And the sun! I saw the sunrise in between trees. And felt that freedom does look a bit like that to me.


Exciting: Bates Motel First Episode of Season 3 Screened Last Night

Season 3 trailer:


So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed!

Here it is, fresh from the print and almost finished (I’ve been hiding from people to be able to have some peace and quiet to read), Jon Ronson‘s new book about public shaming, the way it’s done today and what it means for the shamed ones. Includes stories of people who made a big mistake, a small mistake or simply a joke, or they have been exposed doing something that was/could be considered shameful. Some of them fell apart – some for no good reason became social media ‘sensations’ overnight and have been fired from their jobs and so on. Yet, some of them surfed the wave and came to land without a scratch.

As usual, Ronson’s style is super entertaining yet full of substance and heart, and I love that about his writing in general and about this book in particular.

And I find the subject so relevant and curious at the same time. I’ve seen people being shamed on social media, that kind of shaming that becomes a sort of a sport, something to see ‘who says it better’. I’ve been – small scale – in similar situations myself, and it feels unfair and for some reason it’s frustrating and it hurts. Whether it has a reason or not, it is a form of bullying. And in most cases in which people’s lives ended up falling apart, social media had something to do with it.

Ronson looks at the phenomena of public shaming from many different angles, among others telling the story of a therapist who tries to ‘help’ people stop feeling ashamed for various reasons, a judge who changed convicted people’s lives by shaming them, Princess Donna Dolore from Kink who directs porn but essentially tries to make certain behaviours less taboo.

To end: no one is immune to this, some survive it better than others, eventually the funny photo you posted online this morning might become the beginning of your career.

Read the book.


Buy the book on

The East and the West: My Geography of Time

If there is one thing now that’s very different from my life in Romania, that is the pace of life. I’ve never lived in Bucharest, so I don’t know how that is, but in Cluj the rhythm of life is slow and sweet and last weekend I realized I miss a bit of that.

I went back to Romania for a course I will be doing for the next two years, and on my way to the friend I was staying with, 10:30 in the night, I kept writing her to apologize I am arriving that late after visiting other friends… It was Sunday after all and she and her brother, both work full time during the week. But I arrived and the whole apartment was lively, like it was the middle of the day. I’m simply not used to that any more. Everyone was doing something while at the same time chatting, smoking and cooking! The stew they were making was ready around midnight. We went to bed at 1:30!

Both my body and my schedule do not allow such extravagances. Although I remember those… late nights, late mornings, working on something til 3, chatting, some sort of organic unfolding of time and activities.

The next day I woke up and I couldn’t tell whether it was early or late, whether it was weekend or the week had just started… I somehow knew the week had started but there was no sound or movement to confirm that, and my watch said 8 o’clock. Everyone took their time to get out of bed, make coffee, following that inner voice that says take it slowly. I love that calm, the feeling that time is elastic and it can be bended and twisted according to my inner clock. I think that’s the space where ideas and solutions jump in your mind, it’s the space for self knowledge and for observations.

Or maybe I’m just romanticizing.

All I know is that in Dutch terms my habits are still quite eccentric, but in Romanian terms I am a complete foreigner. My eccentricity consists in not having an agenda and planning everything weeks in advance. I deeply need spontaneity and unstructured time. I am also the last one to come in the office and I like to spend my breaks by myself reading or writing. BUT. I do wake up before 8 almost every day. I do plan as I go. And I need to be structured not because it’s in my nature to be so but because otherwise I won’t have enough space to write and read and organize the film screenings I organize. Otherwise I won’t have time to run. And to watch the pile of films I watch every week. It takes some structure to do that and have a full time job. To do all that I need to be in bed by 11. 12 during weekends. Maybe 1.  I need to know who’s coming and when.

In Romania, after a weekend of going here and there, and taking part in the course all day, and seeing friends and sleeping too little…I felt really tired. I missed my schedule but felt a bit nostalgic at the same time, because this life rhythm reminds me of old me and of home. I do know I could easily fit back in, cooking at midnight, writing at 3 AM, sleeping in the morning whether awake or not. Would that be sweet? I have no idea. Somehow, I kind of got used to the fresh and cold smell of early mornings, and to running in the park.

Small note: check Robert Levine’s really interesting book – A Geography of Time – on time and pace in different cultures.


Movies That Matter 2015!

I just finished an article about Movies That Matter this year and I am so excited to be there, for a couple of reasons, the main being that Nadal El Saadawi will be there for talks, and she appears in The Free Voice of Egypt which will screen at the festival. There are also some other very good films this year and the festival will be 2 days longer than usual. I think I’m one of the first people to see the program this year and believe me, it does sound great!

The festival opens on the 20th with Timbuktu (2014), which is a beautiful story and an Oscar nominated film. Whiiich, reminds me to tell you that Fatoumata Diawara has a concert in Lantaren Venster in Rotterdam on the 6th of March. And if you don’t know her, you should listen to her songs, she’s really great. Here’s a song written by her and composed together with Amine Bouhafa, the composer of Timbuktu’s soundtrack.

Nawal El Saadawi

Nadal El Saadawi

Tuesday, 2015.

This is how I feel these days, only I’m not paving the way for much and at least this chimp went into space. Me. Not. Even. Close.

His name was Ham and this was 1961.

On a totally different note, I don’t have time for any of my long planned ‘complex’ posts. Not. For now.

Meanwhile here’s an article about Ham in Life Magazine.


To do list:

1. Get a dog, or better, get many dogs.

2. Get a car.

3. Pack books, laptop and tent.

3. Run away .

4. Meanwhile, before everything is ready: Better Call Saul.


The invasion, new project and an exhibition to see (in The Netherlands)

I live in the most uneventful place in the world, plain, populated mainly by old people and people with weird habits. On top of that, sometimes, unexpected kitschy things happen, things that gather many people in one place in a wave of excitement. Last weekend, my usually dull and empty writing corner has been taken over by dogs of all sizes, colours and shapes – dog statues that is – and by an army of kids taking photos with two furry characters (sorry for the slightly blurred second photo, it’s just the vibration of the moment captured there. Not). It’s been chaos, I wrote almost nothing, but had a good coffee.

Anyway, I decided that my new mission is to actually try to find interesting things in this place and capture it’s dry but sometimes bitter-sweet, sometimes sad and occasionally trashy feel. I will take more photos in these next months. If the results will be in any way worth seeing, you will know.

On a different note, here’s an art exhibition worth seeing, with a rather prosaic name – 9 Artists from Iran. It’s in Amsterdam until the 21st of February. I haven’t seen it yet, perhaps this weekend.



Early morning, monthly screening

This is what the light and the feeling of waking up early for no reason on a Saturday look like. Eyes wide open and still tired.


The weekend was way too short, or my list of things I wanted to do was too long, but among other things I organized the screening of a Russian film – The Italian, 2005, directed by Andrey Kravchuk – which is difficult to find and not particularly known, but such a nice story about the struggles of a little Russian boy about to be adopted by an Italian family. Adopting Eastern European/Russian children was a practice at a point in the 90’s and I think this bitter-sweet film manages to create an authentic atmosphere and to tell a sad story in a way that is touching, occasionally funny and also optimistic in a genuine way.

The film was part of a small project I took over starting this month, a project through  Platform Spartak, this organization promoting Eastern European culture, and the project is called Ulysses’ Gaze and it’s focused on Eastern European films about migration. Yesterday we had coffee and cake and the film at the Barber Shop in The Hague, and I am currently looking for a small cinema for the screenings, so suggestions are welcome.

My only photo of my grandparents cooking, taking before that whole world disappeared.

I don’t remember why I took this photo, I guess out of some sort of intuition that the world inside that house was not going to last much longer. My grandparents often cooked together and I grew up in their kitchen. They also made everything I wanted, they spoiled me all the time. This is the only photo I have of them in their kitchen, where the magic happened.

For more grandmas (only, no grandpas) and their dishes, see Gabriele Galimberti’s photos of grandmas and their special dishes.


Trip to London and 2 photos

We went to London this last weekend , went to see friends, see some art, have some food. I love London, I always enjoy being there, I love it because it’s gloomy and cosmopolitan, and it’s old and it’s new and it’s really diverse. I love what you can see in London too, the art and the history, and so we went to Tate Modern to see the Conflict, Time, Photography exhibition, which was thought provoking in many ways and I plan to write about it soon.

I also spent some good time at the British Museum, not too long, it was really crowded, but I was excited like a kid to see the Ancient Iran part, and the Tibet and Nepal section. I’d like to bring my father there sometime, it would be like Disneyland for him, perhaps he’d consider living inside the museum. I’d like to go back there myself, middle of the week, when it’s more quiet. I think it’s a great place to take photos, absurd ones, of people taking too many selfies, drinking Coca-Cola in front of antiques. The silly comments you hear cannot be seen in photos though.

I got a nice book on this trip, one with photo assignments meant to make you think and to make you play. Hesitated but got it in the end. I also got some ideas and inspiration, as I usually do when I go somewhere new. And I very much enjoyed the company of my friends there.



Passepartout 2015 plans + two photos.

Alright. So 2015 is here for some days now. And I hope Passepartout will become bigger and better this year. I like the believe that the two go hand in hand.

I do believe images and art can help us understand our own experiences better. If not better, then at least help us get new insights and see new perspectives on things. This is why my plan is to make Passepartout more personal and to offer more ideas for things to see and read.

I said it before: I think photos are not just direct mirrors of the world, they’re actually cultural items, they’re the result of a process, they have their own language and their own world. And they have frames, all sorts of frames that influence what we see and how we understand something, and also how we create our mental image about a place or an issue. I want to (delicately) give more insights into frames and into how images work, and into visual culture in general, so you can question and make better sense of what you see.

Hope you’ll stick around for some good stuff and here are two photos:


See that little table on which the holy light of inspiration seems to be falling? That’s where I work sometimes, when I feel I can no longer stand my own table at home. This may see the most uninspired cafe, but it’s my happy place. Everything is pretty grey around and most shops are closed (bankrupt) but I like the feeling of austerity, the quietness, the old ladies having coffee together there and a certain something I cannot describe and only I seem to see.

poza(7)And here’s a selfie, last photo of me from 2014. I don’t have many selfies, but I do have this one and like it because I can remember precisely how I felt and where I was when I took it. It was in the mood that makes me think, write and do good things. 😉



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