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!




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!


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.


IDFA DocLab: Virtual Reality experience

My first Virtual Reality experience was pretty intense and pretty nauseating. Yet, I didn’t stop, I wanted to go through everything to be able to write about it (I’ll do it soon). One thing that’s particularly interesting besides the experience itself, is what people think VR does or has the potential to do with our minds, and societies, and ethics and everything else. Follow up on the topic soon.





That’s an old name and an old poster. This year’s version of IDFA DocLab conference was called Immersive Reality. We’re moving a scary step forward.


Vote? (check). New books? (check). And I also got to tell (a part of) my story.

Friday I got books in my mail. It’s a good day every time I get books like that, and Friday was extra good because I got two of them and loved both. One of them is Giovanni’s Room, this 1956 tiny novel written so beautifully, a book that everyone seems to know and I didn’t know.  The second is something I was curious about and needed at the same time. It’s called Why Your Five Year Old Could Not Have Done That, written by Susie Hodge, and it looks at 100 pieces of modern art that were somehow controversial or criticized/misunderstood/ridiculed/you name it, and explains the thoughts behind these pieces, their roles in contemporary art,  and how not random they are and all sorts of other things, which makes the book pretty entertaining and also informative. So I woke up this morning and decided I’m not getting out of bed, there’s no need, no rush and no pressure, and I spent some quality time with this book, which is – bonus – printed on good paper, nice to touch and nice to turn.

Why Five SPREADS RGB150 _905Weekend was not only with books but also with voting. Romania chose its president on Sunday, and for the first time fraud and arrangements of all sorts – including not letting a good part of the large diaspora vote – did not decide the winner. I felt relief and joy when I heart that our new ethnic german president won. Had Cointreau and watched the news until 3 AM.

This weekend i also took part in this curious project called The Human Library, organized by a friend of mine, Katerina. The idea behind it is to put face to face people that otherwise might never meet and to get them to tell a story otherwise they might not tell. The ‘readers’ can come and ‘rent’ a book, and the book is a person telling a story, their migration story. You can rent a book for 20 minutes and then you have to return it. There were even library forms to fill in!

I thought it was a great idea, the stories opened a conversation. I told about me moving here which seems nothing compared to people fleeing Somalia and Afghanistan. But especially because I’m coming from so ‘close by’, it’s quite interesting to tell about how many stereotypes one can encounter when moving to a new place. And about how that stops the conversation. Anyway, most important realization from that night was about how confrontational it actually feels to tell something personal to a stranger. And have him listen. It made me see that somehow this story is also far from the most important I have to tell. I thought I wanted to write about this in an article, but now I’m not so sure anymore.


All work and no play – the weekend and its treats

This weekend I reached the obvious conclusion that I don’t have a normal life rhythm. Although my day begins early, nothing stops when it normally stops for other people, and almost nothing happens in the classic parameters of a normal person’s life. Same with weekends, work doesn’t stop in the weekend for me and I often have no concept of ‘it’s Saturday, I should go out’. In fact this Saturday I wrote until 3 in the night. At the same time I do have the luxury to hide in the cinema in the middle of the week or take a Tuesday off just like that.

This weekend I re-read part of my favorite short story book – A Thousand Years of Good Prayers written by Yiyun Li – and a good part of Dostoevsky’s Notes from the Underground, which until now I find partly insightful into human nature and partly terribly disturbing, the result of a circular messed-up mind (the character or the writer himself?) that makes perfectly coherent thoughts most of us only occasionally have.

And I did make a couple of discoveries, one of the most significant being this great TV-series, The Affair. I already watched everything there is to watch, only 4 episodes by now, 5th one comes today and I look forward to it. Well built, well chosen actors, at least Alison, played by Ruth Wilson, certainly is versatile and can play with her role and with my emotions. And the story avoids all the cheap excitement that usually surrounds affairs in films. So see the trailer. See the film.

Off working on my little festival.

The place where time stopped and the Soviet spirit is still at home

Belarus. No, this is not a photo from the 80’s. This is a photo from 2009. The 1917 Bolshevik Revolution Day is celebrated on the 25th of October by the old calendar and the 7th of November by the Gregorian calendar. The anniversary is a state holiday in Belarus. Even today.

Belarus Portfolio

© Andrei Liankevich

The read, write and watch bad weather weekend

The apocalypse didn’t come this weekend, even though, judging by the weather, it seemed like a feasible possibility. Somehow talking about the weather in The Netherlands is never a cliche. We need to talk about it to survive. So I met with friends and they complained and I complained until everything has been said and we stopped and had tea and talked and laughed about more meaningful matters. And after that I did what I do best, wrote a bit, read a bit and watched a couple of films.

I read this review in The New Yorker of Catherine Lacey’s novel Nobody is Ever Missing and it convinced me to buy the book and that was a bad decision. The book is the story of this troubled woman traveling by herself to New Zealand, leaving her life in Manhattan for a new adventure meant to replace a painful past. And despite the author’s eye for certain details and illustrative formulations out of the box, I ended up being rather irritated with her writing and with her main character, someone called Elyria. Ms Lacey seems the typical result of nowadays creative writing schools, coming up with endless creative twists and phrases, captivating (if you never read this kind of writing before) and ultimately disconnecting and empty.

Main (irritating) thing is that her characters have unusual thoughts, and people in general have unusual thoughts, but putting them on page the way she does makes me feel the thought don’t belong to the characters but to a writer that purposefully wants her characters to have unusual thoughts. Let me exemplify:

‘… and I imagined my dozen fuck-up possums gathered around me, a personal audience, and I wondered which things inside a person might be indigenous or nonindigenous, but it isn’t as easy to trace those kinds of things in a person as it is in a country. I wished that I could point to some colonizer and blame him for everything that was nonindigenous in me…”.


‘…during that silence I thought of that night when my husband and I were having one of the arguments about the way we argue and I went into the kitchen to get a glass of water but instead picked up a knife because I was thinking about stabbing myself in the face – not actually considering stabbing myself in the fact, but thinking that it would be a physical expression of how I felt – and I picked up a chef’s knife, our heavy good one that I used for everything from cutting soft fruit to impaling pumpkins and I looked at it, laughed a noiseless laugh, put the chef’s knife down, poured myself a glass of water, and drank it fast, until I chocked a little, and I went back to arguing with my husband and he didn’t know about my face-stabbing thoughts and it made me even angrier that he didn’t know about my face-stabbing thoughts, that he couldn’t just intuit these things, look me into my eyes and know that the way he spoke to me was a plain waste of our life…’.

Keeps going.

Who thinks that? Like that? And where’s the feeling? Except awkwardness coming from the writing not from the character and the situation? I don’t know. Finally, after 50 pages I concluded that even though The New Yorker was impressed and couldn’t stop reading, I am not impressed and I can easily and happily stop reading.

Some films I saw and didn’t regret: A Most Wanted Man – in which Philip Seymour Hoffman makes a great part, unfortunately one of his lasts. And Fury – with Brad Pitt and Shia LaBeouf – which manages to avoid some war film cliches and instead makes a feel-for portrayal of army camaraderie and of how war crushes everyone’s spirit.

Some things I didn’t do and do not regret: finish my latest article, which I’m going to do today.



Films to look forward too:

20,000 Days on Earth – the Nick Cave doc, didn’t get to put my claw on it yet. Wild – the film made after Cheryl Strayed’s memoir. And then this doc, which has been fully funded on Kickstarter just the other day (in only one day!). So it might take some time until it comes out. It’s a film about Joan Didion and I look forward watching discovering more about this tiny (and ferocious) lady writer.

Dear diary…

This Notebook section is my space to write about more personal stuff. About how yesterday, for example, I was stressed out and couldn’t do any work so I hid in the cinema and watched Gone Girl and loved the film and the fact that I was all alone there, sitting in the last row. Notebook is also space to write about the stuff I see in my back yard and on the street, about the books I read, observations I make, photos I randomly find and so on.

1 Marc Riboud

So here’s my favorite thing to look at right now, taken by Marc Riboud, a french photographer who traveled across Asia in the ’50s and the ’60s (and survived to tell the story). He went to Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Nepal, China, and Japan, and his photos are at the Rubin Museum right now, in New York and that’s not useful information for me at all, since I live straight across the ocean from New York.

PS. I excluded the Notebook section from the main blog feed because it’s a notebook, you have to look at it by yourself if curious.


Likebox Slider Pro for WordPress