Portretten uit de Peel


English title: ‘The last Dutch on wooden shoes’.

A documentary film about the Peel using old photographs of  photographer Jacques Peeters

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Scenario & Regie: Wiek Lenssen  Camera: Adri Schrover  Geluid: Bert van den Dungen  Montage: Ozan Olcay

(2016)   Producent:

Hans Heijnen Filmmaker /  L1  TV        L1tv       

&    MediaFonds/ stimuleringsfonds Nederlandse culturele mediaproducties



Portretten uit de Peel 2

For people who have little knowledge of an area like the Peel, it is hard to imagine that not so long ago entire families sometimes lived there in huts made of branches, grass pollen (sods) and piled up peat. Until the mid-1950s, early 1960s, the swampy Peel region of Limburg and Brabant was one of the least populated and least developed parts of the Netherlands.

‘’In the Peel, time passes more slowly than outside it,’ one sometimes heard. It was also sometimes said that: ‘… the poverty in the Peel was so great that a newly married couple had to make do with only one pair of pants for the first years.’

Jacques Peeters (75), master photographer and retired photo-journalist for Dagblad De Limburger, still cherishes living memories of his many visits to the Peel, then for the newspaper and nowadays as a landscape photographer. The colorful figures and situations he often encountered intrigued him as a young photographer. Some lived there like true birds of paradise, such as the hermit Grard Sientje.   “Those are people from before the war” was a popular expression of the time, to denote their way of life overtaken by time.  Jacques captured the uniqueness (and beauty) of their characters in stunning black and white photographs, which appeared periodically in his regional newspaper.

Grard Sientje met honden voor huis + contr

With those photos, the filmmaker, originating from the Peel region, goes out and about, looking for the people this old photographer captured so masterfully and sincerely, or he searches  for relatives or living former acquaintances of those portrayed. In this way the unique history of the Peel region is unlocked.

Portretten uit de Peel

The result is a visual appealing, impressive documentary, with a poetic , almost tender and cinematic approach to the landscape. Today, the poverty of the past has disappeared from the region; nowadays, intensive livestock farming dominates the region. But the traces of a life in raw, wild nature can still be found here and there. At least in this film.

While the film outlines both the life of photographer Jacques Peeters and that of the people he photographed, it also conjures up a picture of life anno now, in a prosperous country. It is certainly true, the people in the film may not have been rich in a material sense, but not necessarily poor in spirit.

The film received , alongside the feature film ‘Riphagen’by Pieter Kuijpers,  an honorable mention in the Best Long Film category at the 2017 Limburg Film Festival

With this film, director Wiek Lenssen developed the atmospheric and highly successful outdoor event “Ode to the Peel” in the summer of 2017 followed by a special cinema release (more info at www.odeaandepeel.nl)


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