Beyond Kafka’s Trial

What happens when a family doctor, with an impeccable record, helps his dying cancer patient to die without pain, only for the Dutch State to call him a murderer?This revealing documentary, which the Dutch State tried to prevent from airing, and led to a political debate, follows the widow of the Dutch family doctor Tromp who committed suicide after the State charged him with murder.

In 2013, family doctor Nico Tromp deviates from the guidelines in order to provide palliative care by acutely sedating his dying cancer patient and letting him die without suffering. Afterwards, his intern reports him to the Health and Youth Care Inspectorate (IGJ, previously known as IGZ). Only a few days later, Tromp is accused of murder without ever being heard. Shortly after this, he puts an end to his life.

For 3 years, director Sarah Vos filmed Tromp’s widow, Anneke Tromp, during her battle against the Dutch State in order to get her husband rehabilitated. After 3 years of fighting, Anneke finally successfully brought charges against the Dutch State in the Law Council. The state payed the highest compensation for non-material damage ever, however it rejected any form of responsibility for the tragedy that has taken place. Profound research for this film led to the unlocking of the revealing files; from the interns e-mails up to the police interrogation of doctor Tromp; they are all re-enacted by Dutch actor Pierre Bokma. The documentary also takes the viewer along into the further devastating consequences on the remaining family and the immense strength with which Anneke and her son Reinier Tromp carry on with their lives.

“Beyond Kafka’s Trial” is a film about the vulnerability of general practitioners operating in the grey area of palliative care. It unfolds an extremely painful and tragic story that urges for a renewed medical-ethical, social and political debate about the fear culture that has arisen among general practitioners during acute care for the dying. A culture of fear that also has far-reaching social consequences for everyone who has to deal with it.

This documentary had one of the highest ratings ever recorded by Dutch National TV, evoked a lot of emotions nationwide and was a trending topic on Twitter. Medical professionals came forward after viewing the documentary to confirm that Tromp’s approach to helping the dying patient is also familiar to them. Some of them filed complaints against the Health Inspectorate. Documentary maker Sarah Vos was personally summoned by the State and forced to remove the names of the officials responsible for this tragedy. Even after Anneke Tromp was proven right by the judges of the Council of State, the Inspectorate has refused to offer her a public apology.

 

This film was broadcasted prime-time on NPO2 and is on VOD at NPOstart (Dutch). 

 

Beyond Kafka’s Trial in the Dutch press:

 

News

    Director Sarah Vos

    Sarah Vos is multiple awarded with her documentaries. She directed Welcome to Holland – Campus Vught (Silver Zebra and Golden Calf nomination), Big Brother in the Middle-East (Nipkowschijf) and Curaçao (together with Sander Snoep) awarded with the Price of the Dutch Film journalists and Best of Idfa on Tour.

    Together with Zeppers Film she realized the documentaries Curaçao (2010) and Hier Ben Ik (2017), both with co-director Sander Snoep.

    Credits

    Director: Sarah Vos
    Camera: Reinout Steenhuizen, Sander Snoep, a.o.
    Sound: Jos ten Klooster, Kees de Groot, a.o.
    Soundmix: Peter Warnier

    Editing: Sander Snoep
    Line producer: Julia van Schieveen
    Producer: Frank van den Engel
    Commissioning editor EOdocs: Margje de Koning
    A Zeppers Film production in coproduction with EOdocs and with support from the Mediafund.