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After you’re gone… Piet is Gone Director & script: Jaap van Hoewijk Production: Zeppers Film Co-production: KRO-NCRV

Jaap van Hoewijk

Two films selected for IDFA Dutch Documentary Competition deal acutely with the pain of loss and disappearance. Geoffrey Macnab reports. Fifty people a day vanish in the Netherlands. Director Jaap van Hoewijk discovered this when he was researching his new documentary Piet is Gone, which he describes as “an anatomy of a disappearance.” Piet Beentjes, the

subject of the film, hasn’t been seen since April 1987, when he was spotted on the island of Texel. All these years later, his devoted sister Toos is still trying to work out what happened to him. “She sent me an email. She said my brother has been missing for nearly now 30 years now,” the director remembers. At first, Van Hoewijk thought this was too long ago and that his film should focus on a more recent case. However, he agreed to meet Toos. The moment he did so, he knew she would be the subject of the film. “It was a personal feeling. My father committed suicide in 1974 which I only discovered in 1997. I’ve been trying to discover what happened for years and years. I immediately


recognised my personal feelings in Toos.” What flabbergasted the director was the off-hand fashion in which the police had treated Piet’s case. Their general practice is to wait two days after a disappearance before beginning to investigate properly – “understandably, since 50 people a day go missing” – but those two days are the window in which the missing person is most likely to be found. Toos has been badgering the police for three decades but they’ve still never worked the case in anything but the most casual fashion. “This one detective hardly did anything. He didn’t go and see witnesses who had seen Piet on the ferry or on the island. He never went

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