Harry, Tiny and Sonja
Building a life after 30 years in assisted-living housing
Harry, Tiny and Sonja are forced to leave the assisted-living housing institution in Capelle aan den IJssel and move to a housing scheme for the elderly in a regular residential area. The current notion in society prescribes that people who can live independently should do so. But can they, really? Is it safe? What happens if things go wrong?
Harry, Tiny and Sonja show us what it takes for them to meet society’s expectations. They try to adapt as well as they can to the rapid changes in health care. This means that, for the first time in years, they need to brew their own coffee, shop for groceries, clean the house and change a light bulb. They also need to find a useful way of spending their days and maintain friendships so they don’t become lonely. Some are more successful than others. So, as heartwarming heroes do: they help each other and try their best.
Their family isn’t much help. The ties have been loosened by years of trauma. Milja, Sonja’s daughter, has been taking care of her mother for 40 years and says: “This is the umpteenth house she’s been moved to. I’ve had it.”
Maartje Nevejan has documented the transition from welfare state to participative society from the beginning. She has given a face to the policy that has started in 2015. She has a keen eye for the fragility of the people who are targeted by the new policies of the participation act. At the same time she acknowledges the negative aspects of the ‘care addiction’ the Dutch welfare state has created over the past decades.
Independence is healthy and self-reliance can be learned. It was clear to many that the Netherlands needed to decrease the number of beds in psychiatric hospitals. At the moment the Dutch are front-runner in Europe. But is our society ready for befuddled people in the street, confused neighbors or craziness in the checkout line?
Maartje Nevejan is a documentary director with a background in theatre and new media.
Harry, Tiny and Sonja (50’) is Nevejan’s third documentary in cooperation with Dutch public broadcaster HUMAN. In 2009 she directed Theo van Gogh? He is dead and in 2011 she directed Once upon a vaccination…
For Dutch public broadcaster BNN she recently made a documentary series called ‘Wij zitten vast’ (We are stuck) with presenter Sophie Hilbrand. For NTR, another public broadcaster, she made a series in four episodes ‘Het Nationale Canta Ballet’ (The national Canta ballet) that documented the creation of a ballet with members of the National Ballet and 53 Canta cars, a Dutch custom-made motorized vehicle intended for the disabled. The documentary was at the heart of various cross-media productions. These included a book, a radio documentary and a registration by GPS of the route that the Canta cars drove, using Amsterdam as a dance floor.
In 2004 and 2008 Nevejan directed two documentary series Couscous & Cola for BNN. It shows immigrant children in Amsterdam who, after 9/11, struggle with their identity and feelings of hatred toward the West. The success of the series on Al Jazeera gave way to Couscous Global (2009), a platform in which young people meet for debate and to film each other. More info...