M/F/X at the Roze Filmdagen 2019

Thanks to Koen Suidgeest for the invitation to see his short documentary M/F/X at the Roze Filmdagen in Amsterdam. The film offers a rare glimpse into the struggle of “three transgenders from Vietnam, Honduras and the Netherlands”.

The film screens again as part of the festivals short docu-programme, you can see it again on Wednesday 20 March 2019, 17:45 at the Ketelhuis, Westerpark. There is also the opportunity to meet Kim Shantal, one of the films transgender individuals. If you go, you should also visit Koen’s photo exhibition of people he met during the production but who did not make it into the film.

According to the filmmaker and photographer Koen those “stories were also so compelling that we decided to make this exhibition”. Both film and exhibition are little gems you will enjoy at the Roze Filmdagen.

https://rozefilmdagen.nl/programma/20/traversing-the-world-docu-shorts

Why Brexit is really beginning to piss me off

tenor Why Brexit is really beginning to piss me off
Stop this madnees!

Brexit is coming closer. And today I noticed a couple of Brexit posts which contain the usual Brexit delusions and lies.

Some of my friends post this in good faith. They ask questions. That’s good. But don’t be disappointed if I call out Brexit BS when I read it. Don’t be offended when i call a post stupid when it is clearly misleading and demonstrably false.

It is time to stand up and tell Brexiteers that enough is enough. Every day for the last two years we have had to endure their xenophobic language and listen to lies and false promises. The hard reality is that nothing good comes out of Brexit.

  • There is no extra money for the NHS,
  • UK regions will get less after Brexit,
  • Border controls will cause delays,
  • UK pensioners wont get free health care in Spain,
  • Companies are moving to the continent,
  • The pound has dropped by a third in value since Brexit,
  • WTO proposals by the UK have so far been rejected
  • and the NHS lacks EU nurses and doctors who move back home.

This is not project fear. This is REALITY!

I am thoroughly fed up with the arrogance, xenophobia and ignorance in the Brexit camp. The world does not revolve around the UK and its time for this idiotic Brexit to stop.

But I am hopeful. I really really hope that the UK government begins to realise how stupid Brexit really is. I hope the people of the UK wake up to realise that the referendum was based on lies and fraud perpetuated by the Brexit camp.

I hope that the people of the UK discover that in order to have their cake, they need to rejoin their rightful seat at the EU coffetable – or else there will be no cake for the UK!

Less than 8 weeks to go with this madness. But still enough time for the UK to do the right thing.

Electric cars are cleaner. They really, really are ….

 

cartoon self driving car Electric cars are cleaner. They really, really are ....

Watch out: the Anti-Electric-Car madness is on the rise

I don’t mind a few FB posts hurting my eyes once in a while. But the “electric-car-is-not-good” theme is standing out this week.
 
Punchy slogans in big letters like “Are electric cars really cleaner?” and “Electric car batteries destroy Brazilian rain forests” make me wonder about some of my FB friends. 
 
Right now these are popular anti-electric-car slogans, especially in Germany where courts have ruled that many Diesel cars are not meeting environmental standards.
 
I can see that my German FB friends are confused and upset by this ruling. They wonder if fine dust particles are actually harmful and whether electric cars are really cleaner. I guess change never comes easy.
 

The facts are:

1) Electric cars are not pollution free. But they are way better than fossil fuel engine cars.

2) Fine dust pollution is harmful to our health. This is statistically proven.
 
Let’s have a look at the facts rather than falling for fake news. I collected a couple of sources that explain all this in more detail:
 
1) Electric cars are more energy efficient compared to fossil fuel cars.
2) Electric cars produce less CO2 compared to fossil fuel cars. The amount of CO2 also depends on the electricity-mix. (i.e. fossil fuel generated or renewable energy electricity)
3) Electric car batteries are expensive to produce. But over the lifetime of the car, this is still more economic compared to fossil fuel cars.
4) The electricity network does not collapse if everyone had an electric car and charged it. Smart electric cars can be used as a buffer and make charging more efficient.
5) New battery technology promises fast charging in the next few years.
I am hoping that our old Fiat 500 makes it another 7 years or so. And then Arleen and can get the self-driving, fast-charging electric for a comfortable drive while watching a good movie. And chat about the possibility of time travel. But that’s another topic…

 

141695 150x150 Electric cars are cleaner. They really, really are ....
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Have a great holiday season 2018!

simbawalk 1024x911 Have a great holiday season 2018!
Akira Arleen & Fritz

To us “Have a great holiday season” is PC-code for Xmas. To you – who knows! Whatever “holiday season” means to you – we wish you a great time with your family and friends. A good time with music, lots of good food, drink and no headaches the day after.

See you again in the new year,
Yours – Akira, Arleen & Fritz

Foto by Marleen Verheul Fotografie / Simba's Adventure dog walks

How I found out what happened to my Dutch grandfather … and why he reminds me of car tires.

The secret

My Dutch grandfather was a sort of a secret until last year. Grandfather in Dutch is ‘Opa’ and the Opa I knew was not my mum’s officially recorded father. My Dutch family does not talk a lot about this. I don’t think they want to keep it a secret, it’s just no one really knows what exactly happened to him during world war two.

A few years after my mum had passed away I began to wonder who my mum’s father, my actual Opa really was. After my mum divorced she changed her surname back to her maiden name – the family name of my grandfather: Akkermans. But that was not enough to find out who he was. There are hundreds if not thousands of Akkermans in the Netherlands.

I requested a copy of my mum’s birth certificate from the Dordrecht town hall. The original entry listed my grandfather’s full name:  Hermanus Petrus Akkermans.

birthcertificate elly How I found out what happened to my Dutch grandfather ... and why he reminds me of car tires.

birthcertificate elly 1 How I found out what happened to my Dutch grandfather ... and why he reminds me of car tires.

Now I had the full name of my grandfather. But what happened to him? According to this document, he married my grandmother Hendrika Schefferlie a few months after my mum was born. With this information, I searched for Hermanus Petrus Akkermans death certificate: ki

death certificate Hermanus Petrus Akkermans 1024x555 How I found out what happened to my Dutch grandfather ... and why he reminds me of car tires.

I learned that he was born in the Brabant village of Vught. That in itself is interesting. While I was working in Singapore I had two job offers: one offer was to return to the UK and work in Bolton near Manchester, UK. The other offer was in Breda, Brabant, the Netherlands. I chose Breda, to be closer to my mum. Now I live not far away from the village of Vught where H.P. Akkermans was born.

I also learned that Hermanus Petrus Akkermans died on December 13, 1943 in Hamburg Harburg, but is buried at the War cemetery Loenen in the Netherlands.  I looked up my grandfathers grave via the Dutch War Cemetary Foundation and found this entry. How did he get there?

h.p.akkermans loenen 1024x462 How I found out what happened to my Dutch grandfather ... and why he reminds me of car tires.

I traveled to Loenen, paid my respect and learned that Hermanus Petrus Akkermans had been taken as forced labourer to Hamburg Harburg. I can only speculate on the most likely cause of his death and this is what I found out:

On December 13, 1943, the 445th Bombardment Group, was targeting Bremen and Kiel. More than 600 aircraft were dispatched. Poor visibility meant that 78 B-17s continued to strike ‘targets of opportunity’ in Hamburg. It is very likely that my grandfather was killed during that air raid: the day of the bombing is the day of his recorded death.

The Hamburg Centre for political education and the concentration camp foundation of Neuengamme publish an interactive chart showing the locations of all known forced labour- and concentration camps in and around Hamburg.

Screenshot 2018 11 29 at 12.10.25 1024x542 How I found out what happened to my Dutch grandfather ... and why he reminds me of car tires.

I discovered that my grandfather most likely worked for the Phoenix AG  in Hamburg-Harburg in of their camps. My German half likes to think that he stayed in an open camp, unlike the closed camps for Eastern Europeans or POWs.

The Phoenix AG produced rubber products and my grandfather being a shoemaker had the skills they needed. Phoenix AG was bought by Continental AG in 2004. Continental AG produces car tires.

Every time I see Continental tires, I think of my Dutch grandfather. I contacted the company but never heard back from them. It would have been nice to have had at least an acknowledgment of my request.

I could not have found out any of this without online access to government archives or Hamburg’s interactive forced labour camp map. It feels good to know what happened to ‘Opa’.

My grandfather’s story shows how successful Europeans have managed to keep the peace for over 70 years. This is a huge achievement in the history of Europe. Hermanus Petrus Akkermans’ story is a reminder of how fragile peace really is. Let’s make sure we keep that peace for all of us and those that follow. Like our children and my son.

 

Andrew Leavold and the Search for Weng Weng at QCinema, 2018

 

wengweng 203x300 Andrew Leavold and the Search for Weng Weng at QCinema, 2018
This was another surprise the QCinema festival had up its sleeve. I was in a bad mood. I just had a horrendous cab journey through Manila traffic. A typhoon was approaching Luzon and I was still jetlagged. It was too hot outside – and too cold inside the Trinoma mall: the air-condition at the Gloria Maris venue was set to freezing. “This better be good” I thought to myself.

And it was! I forgot all about the chilled air-con blasting down my neck as I absorbed Andrew’s lively account of how he tracked down Filipino action movie star Ernesto de la Cruz, also known as Weng Weng. Ernesto is listed as the shortest action movie star of all times by the Guinness Book of World Records: he was 83 cm tall.

Weng Weng was Agent 00 – aka the Filipino James Bond and starred in 11 feature films. Andrew Leavold, a big fan of Filipino movies, went on a search to find out what happened to Weng Weng.

In his talk about ‘The search for Weng Weng’ Andrew shows how a documentary filmmaker can successfully navigate archives, public and private, to uncover what happened to Ernesto de la Cruz.

Weng Weng, we learn, died of a heart attack in less glamourous circumstance. The promised support by the producers of production company Liliw never realized according to Ernesto de la Cruz’ brother. It is because of Andrew Leavold that Weng Weng is brought back into the limelight. His film is a touching tribute to the shortest action movie star of all times.

You can buy Andrew’s film on Amazon here and connect with Andrew and Weng Weng’s legacy on Facebook and via www.searchforwengweng.com

Dwein Baltazar’s “Oda sa Wala” wins at the 2018 QCinema Festival.

 

Which really is not a surprise. I found myself in the freezing Trinoma Cinema 4 in Quezon City after an intense week of lecturing, It would have been easy for me to walk out – I felt cold and jetlagged and said to myself that this film better keeps me watching. And it did. Never mind the cold – or jetlag.

‘Oda sa Wala’ tells the tragic-comic story of Sonya who runs a Filipino funeral parlour in a world that seems to have forgotten her long ago. Until one day she develops a closer relationship with an unclaimed corpse. I won’t divulge much more – you will have to find for yourself. As I sat there watching Sonya’s story unfold I began to wonder who the real corpses in Sonya’s world are.

I have no idea how and where you will be able to see this film. But you can start looking into director Dwein Baltazar and ‘Oda sa Wala’ via this link:

https://qcinema.ph/2018/oda-sa-wala

And who knows – it may screen in your local arthouse cinema. Maybe you find it eventually on some VOD streaming service. A true little filmmaking gem that keeps you watching without all the CGI and Hollywood glamour. And Bravo to Dwein Baltazar!

cc odasawala2 200x300 Dwein Baltazars Oda sa Wala wins at the 2018 QCinema Festival.

To Infinity and Beyond – The 2018 Breda Photo Biennale

 

Breda Photo takes place every two years. This year I went to the Koeppel prison exhibit.

I was fascinated by the Koeppel and the exhibition by Joris Deleersnyder in the basement. Joris’ presented ‘marketing examples’ to help make the Catholic church more attractive in the future.

Breda Photo is well worth the visit. Photographers and artists from around the world exhibit at the event. Visitors can spend days visiting the various locations spread around town to view amazing photography. The exhibition ends on October 21, 2018.

First some pictures I took of the fascinating 19th century 360-degree Koeppel prison in the heart of Breda.

breda11 768x1024 To Infinity and Beyond   The 2018 Breda Photo Biennale
Self-reflection in prison door

breda12 768x1024 To Infinity and Beyond   The 2018 Breda Photo Biennale

breda5 768x1024 To Infinity and Beyond   The 2018 Breda Photo Biennale
What is the time?

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breda10 1024x768 To Infinity and Beyond   The 2018 Breda Photo Biennale
Freedom

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Eye and brain drip

breda14 768x1024 To Infinity and Beyond   The 2018 Breda Photo Biennale

And here the ideas of Joris Deleersnyder on how to make the Catholic church more attractive in the future.

church 1024x768 To Infinity and Beyond   The 2018 Breda Photo Biennale

church5 768x1024 To Infinity and Beyond   The 2018 Breda Photo Biennale

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