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Tillema, de Multatuli van de fotografie

Short documentary, 2002, 52 min.

Eleven thousand photos, six miles of footage, three hundred books and eighteen volumes of Indië Oud en Nieuw: this is the historical legacy of Hendrik Tillema, who was born in Friesland and worked his way up to a successful producer of carbonated drinks in the Netherlands East-Indies early last century. He used his accumulated wealth to improve the life of the orang tekil (the common man) in Indonesia. For example, he published his own book about the lack of a sewer system and he saw to it that the local population was vaccinated ('one vaccinator does more for the pacification of Indonesia than an army of soldiers'). By means of a staggering amount of self-shot and collected material, this `one-man Third World movement' qualified the limited, positive image of our former colony that persisted until the forties. In the documentary, material from Tillema's archive is alternated with comments by actor/photographer Thom Hoffman and interviews with anthropologist Jan Ayé and writer Ewald Vanvugt, on whose book this film is partly based.

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