Sunday, April 28, 2013

Economic training

The economic crisis is Big Business, not just for banks and companies, but also for the movie business. In recent years, countless documentaries and films have tried either to clarify an aspect of the crisis or to give a dramatic interpretation of the impersonal stories we get to hear in our every day lives.

In my IDFA notebook, most pages are devoted to documentaries about the crisis. While watching other films, in the dark I will take notes about beautiful shots or ways to conduct an interview. In the case of the documentaries about the crisis though, I mainly get to scribbling down the vast amount of facts that are shown, hoping that afterwards I will be able to make sense out of them. Sometimes, I manage to write down a note about the cinematic aspects: 'beautiful graphics' or 'the interviewee looks out of the frame', but my notes mainly consist of lists of numbers and dates associated with catastrophic events. Another recurring thing are notes like 'I need to read more about this' and 'I have no idea what this is about anymore' (halfway in a film). 

Since I now have the time to write down my notes into my official IDFA booklet, I'm rediscovering my plans to learn more about the subject. I am planning to rewatch some of the movies I saw, like I.O.U.S.A. (2008!), Enron (2005), Four Horsemen (2011) and of course Academy Award winner Inside Job (2010). Next to that, I am going to read Joris Luyendijks blog for the Guardian and the writings of Ewald Engelen, a Dutch financial geographer. 

I'm hoping this all might lead to gaining a little more knowledge about the situation we are in. I am open to more suggestions, so bring it on!

Thursday, April 25, 2013


Three weeks ago, my Facebook feed was filled with raving comments on the Backlight episode The Tax Free Tour, on tax havens, offshore economy and how known and unknown multinationals are able to multiply their profits. Everyone was outraged about the role The Netherlands appear to play in this, and praised the brave filmmakers and speakers in the film. A sudden realization, it seemed, about our favorite companies (Apple, Starbucks, Amazon) that, now they apparently use our country to evade paying taxes, turn out to be really bad.
Their other practises; the situation of their employees in other countries, their claim to deliver 'fair' products and the exorbitant amounts of money you pay for having their logo on whatever you get from them, haven't kept us from buying their products. But that is going to change now!

Before pointing a finger at others, let me first admit my own Apple addiction. I really love how their products look and how they work. I never visit Starbucks or use Amazon, but yes, I too am part of the problem of our times, in which we seldomly link actions to our anger.

Just a few days before the Backlight episode, I expressed my frustration and anger about the unfairness of this world to a friend, and he called me naive. There was no news in what I was saying, things have always been like this. And even if I were right and the world would perish one day because of our behaviour - as I suggested in my rant - would it be any different from other Great Empires, that long, long ago suffered the same fate? And, he added, I probably knew as little about the economical crisis as he did, and all those smart people who once got us in it, probably would also come up with solutions to get us out. So why get so upset?

His somewhat condescending remark about my naivety got me thinking. Is it really ridiculous to worry about big systems, because you don't exactly know what to do about them? Is it naive to hope that fixed patterns can be changed? The responses to The Tax Free Tour gave me new hope. The more information we have, the angrier we might get, and who knows, maybe there will come a time when we actually do link our anger to action and won't buy new Apple products anymore.

Untill then, I remain naive and I sincerely hope that my laptop won't break down any time soon, so I won't have to deal with a terrible dilemma.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013


Last week, me and my physiotherapist discussed the pain in my back that I've been feeling for a while which sometimes can be so intens that I don't know how to move my body, and at other times disappears for days or even weeks. She asked me if I had suffer some stress lately?

I tried to shrug in a nonchalant way; it hadn't been that bad. Sure, the last months I experienced some stress because I was about to become unemployed, by choice, in the midst of this economical crisis. And yes, before that, I had been stressed at work sometimes, but nothing extreme. Afterwards, I realised that my reaction might have been a little misplaced. The prospect of a new, unknown future causes more stress then I'd like, but is nothing compared to the stress I've had at work in recent years.

I don't say this to earn some pity. What actually really surprised me was that I never realized how much stress I often feel and have felt. Only when the stress at work led to frequent fights at home, I realized that perhaps, it might be time for change. Without having a clear plan of what I want to do with my life, looking at the future as it presents itself before me, my choice to quit regularly freaks me out. Whenever I explain my lack of plans to friends, family and acquaintances, I can see how the very idea of my present life freaks them out as well; "But, but, how are you.., and what will you.., and then what...?". Their reaction doesn't really help to lower my stress. So all in all, it's not really strange that I have this pain. Stress can have many physical effects, which I already knew for a long time (years ago, an extreme stressful situation led to a swollen lip and too much tension has also led to involuntarily throwing up).

But the possibilities that arise also give energy and lead to a thousand ideas for a possible new life. And that changes the stress into excitement and a positive energy, because of which I look forward to start all those new adventures.