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

The perfect travel partner: Craig Armstrong and his Millie

Traditionally, non-human adventure partners are not cats. Robyn Davidson, the woman who crossed Australia by foot, was accompanied by a dog and four camels (see Tracks, a new film made after the book she wrote). And Rory Steward, who traveled across Afghanistan and wrote The Places in Between afterwards, did a long part of the trip together with  Babur, an afghan dog with no teeth, which he ‘recruited’ for his trip in a village. But these are different stories.

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It doesn’t get more bitter-sweet than this: Mark Nixon’s portraits of old teddy bears

Have you ever noticed how many stories an object from your past can tell? How those stories become alive once you rediscover an item long lost? We live our lives surrounded by objects and they’re not just things, but significant things. They absorb our lives. And they keep it there for later remembrance. And this photo project is the best illustration of this.

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The most important thing they kept: portraying Syrian refugees through their ‘pieces of home’

‘The Most Important Thing: Syrian Refugees’ is a collection of black and white portraits of people and the one thing they got to take when they left their home. Each story is written in a direct style. And looking at the photos and reading those stories somehow show without telling everything someone from far away needs to understand about vulnerability and uncertainty and being far away from home.

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Do you speak Eastern Europe? Beautiful photos and bad journalism well written

Some time ago, the Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie was giving what is probably my favorite TEDx talk ever. In it, she was talking about the dangers of a single story and she was showing how many stereotypes and misunderstandings lay behind looking at the world through a single lens.

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The real Winnie the Pooh and Christopher Robin

Winnie the Pooh is one of my favorite childhood characters. When I was about six, my father gave me a small book he had since he was a child himself – ‘The Adventures of Winnie the Pooh’ – with the original drawings.

The book was written by A.A. Milne and Christopher Robin, the boy in the book, was actually his son, named Christopher Robin Milne. Winnie was a bear the boy had and apparently many other of his toys borrowed their names for most characters in the story.

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Stories We Tell (2012, directed by Sarah Polley)

This documentary is terribly personal. The story is that Diane Polley, the director’s mother, died in 1990. She was an actress and a very lively person, bubbly and easily getting in trouble. What Diane Polley left behind is different memories and a big dinosaur in the family closet. Since she is now gone and no longer can explain the choices she made, her daughter, Sarah Polley, sets out to talk to everyone who was close to her mother, and make sense of the dinosaurs.

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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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Watch Online Documentary: China Blue (2005, directed by Micha X Peled)

If the jeans you are wearing are made in China, then they might have been made by Jasmine Li (she’s the one with the blue sweater in the photo above). China Blue tells the story of this 17 year old girl who lives and works in the Lifeng Clothes Factory in Shaxi, Guangdong. She shares her room with others like her, young migrant workers – some of them with fake ID’s making it seem they are older – who leave the safety of their villages and families to earn some money. Jasmine makes 7 cents per hour.

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The unexpected faces of Alice in Wonderland

When Alice in Wonderland was first published (written by Lewis Carroll,his real name was Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, but who could remember such a name?!) it received little, very little attention. Actually, the reviewers appreciated more the illustrations (by John Tenniel) than the story itself. That was 1866.

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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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Watch online: Harvie Krumpet (2003, directed by Adam Elliot)

‘Some are born great, some achieve greatness, some have greatness thrust upon them…’

‘and then…there are others…’

…like Harvie Krumpet.

He was born upside down in a village in Poland in 1922. He has Tourette’s Syndrome and he is the unluckiest person in the world. This short clay-animation is his biography. Directed by Adam Elliot (Max and Mary), this 23 minutes film won an Oscar and 19 other prizes. Read more…


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