Doctor
Kees

In Search of
Willy’s will

Plan a screening

Is Willy still legally competent and can he decide for himself whether he wants to live or die? Or does his condition meet the criteria he wrote down earlier, and can he receive euthanasia based on his living will? A documentary about a doctor’s search for his patient’s will.

  • Director/Producer Jesse van Venrooij
  • Length 63 minutes
  • Language Dutch
  • Subtitles Dutch & English

Kees is a specialist in geriatric medicine. He works at Vitalis Vaandelhof, a closed ward of a nursing home in Eindhoven. Willy has been living in this ward for more than a year. He has dementia and an acquired brain injury brought on by multiple cycling crashes. He suffers from periodic bouts of aggression and delusion, and is often lost in his thoughts. Willy’s family has indicated that he has set up a euthanasia request, and they wonder whether the time has come for Willy to receive euthanasia. His wife and (foster) children support his living will, because he has always said that he does not want to live this way. With help from Kees, they look for what is best for Willy.

Screening with after-talk

The documentary Doctor Kees is very suitable for education and training, for a deepening and broadening of the subjects of euthanasia and legal competence. If you are interested in a screening for your organisation—followed by a discussion with doctor Kees, Willy’s family members and/or director Jesse van Venrooij—please contact us to discuss the possibilities.

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Directors statement

Doctor Kees is my second documentary about the ethical dilemmas of euthanasia in a difficult situation. A Dignified Death, released in 2018 (www.adignifieddeath.com) is about Eelco de Gooijer. On November 23, 2016, Eelco received euthanasia based on psychiatric suffering. The doctor who performed Eelco’s euthanasia was Kees. A few months after Eelco’s death, Kees approached me with the dilemma he was facing as a geriatric specialist: euthanasia for legally incompetent patients. Kees wanted to show a nuanced picture of the complexity of this dilemma. That was the first reason to work on this documentary.

 

There is also a personal development that inspired me to make this film. When I was fourteen years old, I witnessed my grandfather’s death. He had advanced dementia and lived in a closed ward. On the day he turned 76, all his children (my uncles and aunts) and I were there with him. After a long period of suffering—the last days of which without food or drink—he died on his birthday, in our presence. Euthanasia was not possible at the time and therefore not discussed. I hope I won’t have to experience this myself. I wish that everyone who ends up in an unbearable situation without prospect of improvement will get the chance to leave their life with dignity, with the help of a committed doctor. In my eyes, Kees is a man who saves lives. The lives of the patients he helps, but also of the patients’ loved ones. Dignity and sincere attention to the last breath. Making this documentary has taught me to enjoy life even more. And I have learned how incredibly complex it is to act carefully and make the right decisions in this process. Therefore, I hope that Doctor Kees will offer nuance and opportunities for conversation about this sensitive subject.

Past screenings

Crew

Screening with aftertalk

If you are interested to book a screening, you can leave your contact information here. Please check the boxes you're interested in addition to the screening. We will reach out to you, so we can discuss the possibilities. You may also call us directly on +31 (0)6 52451875.