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

Stories from a 13,000 km trip around the Black Sea

Photographer Petrut Calinescu and writer Stefan Candea traveled 13,000 km around the Black Sea. Even though the photos have been taken in different countries (they started the journey in Romania, went to Bulgaria, Turkey and on) they have a certain common feel coming from these places’ shared past. The traces of the Soviet era are mixed with each country’s local flavor. One can sense this influence not only in architecture (on which the Soviet era left its the most visible footprint) but also in the clothes and small objects surrounding the people.

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Michael Wolf’s ‘Real Toy Story’

Michael Wolf‘s photos are sad and human and show a reality without framing it. The juxtaposition of these simple and modest people with the uncharming factory procedures the toys go through, speaks for itself. This is what happens in the back of the lighted colourful toy shops. The fantasies these shops sell have nothing to do with how the toys come into being.

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Poland Flavour in Images – The Work of Tomasz Wiech

Tomasz Wiech just made my day. “Poland is a country of endless Carnival and great disappointment. The Carnival is obvious, and the disappointment is explicable, because things were expected to be different” he said. And I have the feeling I know what he means.

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What does an Arab man look like?

So. What does he look like? Does he have a beard? A long “dress”? A camel? What is the expression on his face? And most important, how do you feel about him when you see him like that?

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Manufactured Landscapes (2006, directed by Jeniffer Baichwal)

I don’t think anyone can have the vaguest idea of the scale, extent and impact of industrialization on the Earth, until they see Edward Burtynsky’s photos and this amazing documentary. In Manufactured Landscapes, large scale changes of the environment have a bitter beauty and it’s something of their massiveness that’s necessary to perceive in order to get it. Get what? Get a mind image of what we talk about when we talk about over-consumption, overly-populated cities, about way too cheap labor force and about the price of being an ‘individual consumer’.

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1981 picture and the story behind it

I saw this picture in National Geographic some years ago. It stood in my mind and I recalled it at different times. Its caption read that this little boy was inconsolable after a taxi killed his flock. I remembered his face, his clothes and a strong feeling of how important these sheep must have been for him and his family. He must have spent so much of his time with them.

I didn’t remember anything else about, nor did I know how to find it again. But I ran into it accidentally and discovered that this little boy and his story stood in the mind of many others like me. I saw people writing and describing it, mentioning where they first saw it and asking how they can find it again.

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World Press Photo 2012 Winner: the photo is wonderful but how does it serve our understanding?

This year’s World Press Photo winner is Spanish photographer Samuel Aranda and his picture of a Yemeni mother holding her son, wounded during protests against president Saleh. After winning the award, the photo was subject to a lot of debate and criticism, mainly because its composition has been likened to Michelangelo’s Pieta and also because of its Renaissance style of lighting.

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Episode III – Enjoy Poverty (2009)

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Enjoy Poverty is a documentary filmed in the Democratic Republic of Congo by Dutch artist Renzo Martens.

The film shows how poverty is probably the most important ‘natural’ resource in Congo, as development aid brings in the country more money (1.9 billion US dollars) than the exploitation of natural resources such as copper and diamonds. But that’s not all, the film shows that the ones benefiting from this poverty in Congo are not the poor. Their situation stays the same year after year. The ones benefiting are the photographers paid to take pictures of starving children and the ‘corporate’ humanitarian organizations and also the rich people who are being paid high salaries to stop poverty. In the end it is no one’s interest to really eradicate poverty.

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