Why didn’t you stay for me?

Alumna Milou Gevers (Directing Documentaries) graduated with the documentary Waarom bleef je niet voor mij? (Why didn’t you stay for me?)

Four children, who lost a parent to suicide during their primary school years, talk about the journey they have taken since the time they heard the news. Documentary maker Milou, who experienced the same thing, asks the questions that nobody dared ask her at that time.

Milou: ‘Ten years ago, I lost my mother to suicide. With this documentary, I want to show children and parents which thoughts and feelings you are confronted with on your journey after the person who you thought you could trust takes their own life. I underwent a similar journey to the children that I follow in this documentary. People don’t dare to talk with children about suicide. It makes them feel uncomfortable. I would have liked someone to ask me the questions that I am asking these children now, but the taboo surrounding that was too great at the time. I mainly kept my journey to myself, therefore, until I became an adult. With this film, I want to make it possible to discuss the subject in a direct and bold manner. I want to show that children who have lost a parent to suicide are more than able to talk about that. Avoiding the subject is actually dangerous and can isolate the children. I would have liked to have seen a film with peers who I could relate to. With this documentary, I am making a film that I would have liked to have seen at that time.’

This film came about in cooperation with Human.

Watch the documentary on NPO Start.


Mariken Spuij, child and adolescent psychologist: ‘It is truly a taboo-breaking film. It allows the children to speak properly. They are well able to say what they feel inside. All central themes are brought up for discussion and it therefore offers great point of reference – also for adults, parents, teachers, GPs and other professionals – to enter into discussion with children and to learn which words you can use to talk about such a difficult subject with children.’

Niels, expert by experience: ‘I am 60 years old and my father took his own life when I was 12. It is still an open wound, even now... insufficiently processed. It was already a taboo at that time and I’m shocked actually that this is still the case. I would like to thank you with all my heart for what is an important monument of recognition/acknowledgement for me! It has already affected me deeply. Know that it is important for children who are experiencing this now or will experience it in the future, but also truly important for ‘older’ children like me.'

Annemiek van der Zanden, head of Directing Documentary, the Netherlands Film Academy: ‘The film is a very important document, because this concerns a taboo subject, both for adults and for children. The frank but also subdued film (devoid of any sensationalism), shows the consequences of such an event on children who are left behind with sadness and questions, which they are pretty much unable to share. The subject has never been highlighted in this way before.'


Director Milou Gevers 
Producers Annerose van Strijen, Quita Ruijgrok  
Cinematography Lola Mooij 
Production design Kathleen Hilbers, Mey Rahimi, Meret Wellmann, Lotty Mulleners  
Sound design Thomas Machtel  
Production sound mixer Tim Marsman  
Re-recording mixer Remco Langedijk 
Editor Richelle van Loon 
Visual effects supervisors Charlotte Veldhuizen, Ömür Sönmez  
Visual effects coordinators Anne à Campo, Jurrian van Vuuren, Lennart Vulto  
Matte painter Channah van Croonenborg 
Compositors Golan van der Bend, Nina Blaauwbroek, Florentijn Boot, Ruben Koppenol, Charleton Mercelina, Lennart Vulto  
3D Artist Lennard Klaaijsen 
Composer Nikolaï Clavier 

Stop-motion photography Lola Mooij 
Stop-motion photography & gaffer Lidewei Egbers Animators Muus Veldkamp, Lola Mooij 
Postproduction coordinator Siemen Versloot 
Production assistants Lisa Hagenbeek, Muus Veldkamp, Lionelise Gerding, Andro Pentchev 
Assistants production design Jae van den Broeck, Floris Adams, Louis Hoogeboom, Samuel Schuurmans, Luna van Opstal, Demi Andriessen

A project of: