The hunt for my father is a very interesting documentary made by Gülsah Dogan. It is the second movie that I see from her and again I think her work is outstanding in many aspects.
In this documentary Gülsah Dogan follows the author Karin Amatmoekrim who is looking for her father Eric Lie in Suriname. Karin wants to write a book about her father; her mother left the country when she was still a baby and went to the Netherlands, apparently because she was not the only woman for Eric Lie. He as a famous Taekwondo champion and good looking man was popular among women. Thus Karin grew up without father far away, in the Netherlands and it is Gülsah’s quality to show the underlying feelings not by words, but in images. It is difficult not to feel some irritations during this documentary: in the title it is about the ‘hunt for her father’, however it is possible to conclude that it is more about the author herself than about the father.
The story takes place in the beautiful tropic context of Surinam and unfolds in interesting scenes and surprising pictures of the nature: from a cockridge defending itself against ants to trips on the river Marowijne.
Gülsah Dogan has produced another masterpiece after the outstanding documentary Naziha’s Spring. You can see it (in Dutch) Thursday 11 May 2017 at 22.55h on NPO2.
A link describing the documentary (in Dutch):
The Mikvé Israel-Immanuel synagogue is a real beauty in the heart of Willemstad, Curacao. It was dedicated in 1752; by then a Jewish (sephardic) community already existed for a century. They were invited to go to Curacao by the House of Orange when being oppressed by Spanish-Portuguese leadership at the time, as a small exhibition in the synagogue museum shows. The exposition is really ‘orange’, here’s a fanclub to be found. Anyway, all of Curacao is fond of the Royal House, that is clear. One picture especially is found on the door of every shop in town (available at www.koninklijkhuis.nl) and also in this museum, apparently the favourite picture to download here:
I didn’t see it in the Netherlands but here it is everywhere!
The synagogue uses the opportunity of King Willem-Alexander being inaugurated to thank the House of Orange for the liberty the Jews could experience at Curacao, and they welcome him as King. Every visitor gets a book marker in remembrance:
It is a wake up call for everybody thinking that liberty is there for anyone; it is not, and don’t take it for granted because it is not just free…
I asked some questions to the person responsible of the museum and that shows that the Caribbean island Curacao has been more free for the Sephardic Jews than the Netherlands were and are. In Willemstad there are no religious clashes: religious leaders meet and celebrate each others holy days, people respect each others religions. The atmosphere is relaxed, this is what every European notices when entering the synagogue; safety measures are very low compared to European synagogues, I was surprised to enter so ‘easily’.
The synagogue itself is of particular beauty: the silence, the architecture, the colours, the sand on the floor full of symbolism… This is a place for worship and silence!
I was surprised to find an organ in the synagogue and asked questions about that too. It appears in the 19th century the orthodox community had discussions over reform; quite some members left the community and to do ‘something’, the synagogue leadership decided to introduce the organ. One century later the discussions ended up in making the synagogue liberal instead of orthodox and the organ stayed. The synagogue is alive and a center for an influential community that has always played and still plays an important role in the development of Curacao.
Worth a visit! Not just the synagogue, notice the unique gravestones at the entrance of the museum; you haven’t seen a thing like this before! Art or history, I don’t know, but if I hadn’t been with a group, I could have spent my afternoon there just for the stones – masterpieces of human expression in religion!
All flags were half-mast in Curacao this week. All flags means the flag of Curacao and in exceptional cases also the flag of the Kingdom of the Netherlands that Curacao still belongs to; but just in exceptional cases, because Helmin Wiels who was murdered last week was in support of complete independency – or maybe (sometimes one thinks just too deep and reality is more simple) because no flag of the Netherlands is available in this island of scarcity.
‘He was an important minister’, someone in a bar explains me while we are watching the television to see the speeches for his funeral. I do not dare to say that he was not a minister, he was a parlementarian by principal but my feeling is that this is not the moment to tell ‘better’ to anyone, anyhow. It is maybe a Dutch thing, this desire to be ‘precise’… What is very clear is that people express that they mourn about an important man, a man who cared about their island and who was willing to bring changes.
It also strikes me how happy people are that Dutch government officials are present at the funeral. They point their fingers to them and show me: that is a Dutch official and that person too, they have come to Curacao to pay respect to Herman Wiels. It matters to them that the ‘former colonisator’ is present, regardless the differences of opinion between the Netherlands and Curacao.
There are also people here who are ready to explain you why Helmin Wiels was not the answer to the problems at Curacao. However, the common ground is that nobody denies that Curacao has some real problems, and that it is the poor, mainly black, who pay the price for that.
What surprises me most is the awful, very polluting refinery that is in the core of this island. One doesn’t expect to see this in the Caribbean that are known for their natural beauty. The plant is large and the smell is very bad, also from a far distance and it effects one’s breath. Again it is the poor who live on the side where the wind takes the pollution, and the rich who live on the side where breathing is still possible – makes me sad…
Is this a happy island? No it is not. Everybody is talking about the safety problems here, even more than about the economic problems. I spoke to several people who disliked Helmin Wiels, even hated him; however, now that he is dead, they seemed to have lost hope. At least he was calling for change, and will there be anybody else to fulfill this role?
‘Hier is dat ding gebeurd’, people say in the bus when we pass the beach where Helmin Wiels was shot. My first thought was, what is ‘dat ding’ but I saw the picture and the objects placed at the beach and understood ‘dat ding’. It is too awful for people to be named in exact words. Mixed feeling are felt on this island but all together it is rather depressed…