About the documentary
When Thomas Watson, a 24 year old man with Asperger’s syndrome, first told me about his grandmother's experience, I was left dumbfounded. I had lived in Indonesia for several years, and I thought I knew about the history of the country, yet I had never heard about the story of the Dutch and Indonesian civilians imprisoned in concentration camps by the Japanese Imperial Army during the occupation of the Dutch East Indies, now Indonesia, from 1942 to 1945. I had also never been told about the inhumane sex slavery program that had been put in place by the Japanese Imperial Army during that period, which Thomas’s family feared that his grandmother may have been a victim of.
In the weeks following our conversation, Thomas and I concluded it was absolutely necessary to research Yvonne Holman's life during the war in the form of a documentary, as three generations of the Watson had, and were still living in fear: the fear of not knowing what happened to Yvonne in the camps, the fear they would never know because Yvonne had passed away, but most of all the fear Yvonne had been a sex-slave. Armed with one camera and a laptop, Thomas and I flew to Lampersari concentration camp, in the desperate hope of finding elements that would help the family make sense of a 75 year old haunting family secret.
From the start of our investigation, it immediately became clear that 75 years after the end of the War, nearly everything, from the people to the places and records from that period, had vanished. It also became clear that a page of history had intentionally never been written, in order to conceal crimes against humanity committed by the occupying forces from 1942 to 1945. Unwittingly, Thomas and I stumbled upon a story much bigger than the family secret itself, a story of persecution, degradation and the attempted extermination of thousands of women and children. Not only had we suddenly been given the immense responsibility of finding answers for the victim’s descendants, but we also had to do it fast, as there were few first hand witnesses left alive.
After five years of research and filmmaking, we have uncovered compelling evidence that crimes against humanity were committed by the Japanese Imperial Army that have never been brought to light. Yvonne Holman, Thomas’s grandmother, was among the victims of these crimes, along with thousands of other families. This documentary humbly tries to make sense of this forgotten period of history and give a voice to the unheard victims of the Japanese-run death camps.
Jean-Baptiste Breliere, Director of The Past Ended On Mango Street.
About the Filmmakers
Jean-Baptiste Breliere is a film and documentary Director, Producer and Screenplay Writer with a Master of Fine Arts from New York University (Tisch School of the Arts).
He has worked on film and documentary productions in Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Australia, Indonesia, the Netherlands and France on individual projects and for television companies such as B.B.C. World.
The director’s films have received awards and have appeared in festivals and organisations around the world, including Slamdance Film Festival, New York Picturestart International Film Festival, Fusion Film Festival and New York University.
From 2013 to 2014 Jean-Baptiste worked extensively in Indonesia as a filmmaker and educator. A career highlight for him during this period was the opportunity to teach documentary filmmaking for Myuran Sukumaran’s prison school based in Denpasar, Bali.
Jean-Baptiste was living in Melbourne, Australia where he was working on the Feature Documentary The World Ended on Mango Street which will be released in 2021. He is currently living in France and working on several new projects.
Creative Producer/ Post-Production Director
Thomas is a filmmaker based in Melbourne, and he graduated with honours in Acting from Federation University, in Ballarat. He has performed on the stage where he was selected to participate in a masterclass with Hollywood character actor Dee Wallace. His voice acting skills are heard in the documentary.
He has worked as producer in a self-devised production called The Deviants, which was further developed as a solo piece for his honours thesis. The Past Ended on Mango Street is his first film production.
He has recently completed a Masters of Media and Communications specialising in post-production and radio, where his skills have been used in a variety of student productions. Thomas is currently developing projects for a variety of different media television, cinema and the internet, which will be produced by his film company.