Among Sonja’s first memories are the images of palm trees waving in the wind, of jumping in the swimming pool with her sister, of her two brothers teasing her at their summer house. Remnants of a carefree childhood. Though, Sonja has always known that the parents she grew up with in Paramaribo, Suriname, are not her real parents. In fact, they are an uncle and aunt. 

Only a single photograph on Sonja’s chimney of a newlywed couple reminds her of her real father and mother and her childhood years in Amsterdam. She remembers nothing at all about the war she experienced as a child nor about the moment that saved her life: the separation from her parents. As she points out: “I’m not able to tell a story of what I’ve been through. I only have fragments.” 

When I meet Sonja for the first time in Amsterdam she is 80 years old. Not long before we met in 2019, Sonja received an email from a stranger, saying she dug up something from her backyard that she thought belonged to Sonja. It appeared to be three napkin rings. One of those rings has an inscription of the name Sonja, and a second has the name Sophia Salomons. The rings were found on the grounds of a former Jewish Psychiatric Center named Het Apeldoornsche Bosch. 

Sonja and her parents did spend some time in hiding at that location during the war, until one horrific night on January 21, 1943. That night the institution was taken over by the Nazis. All staff and patients of the institution were deported and later murdered. Sonja’s parents must have buried those rings in that garden eighty years ago. But why? What did the rings mean to them? What happened at that crucial moment in 1943? Her parents were never able to answer Sonja’s questions. They were killed in Auschwitz. 

In Lacuna, Sonja invites the director and the visitor to look for that moment in January 1943 that she no longer remembers: the separation from her parents. Together with Sonja, we go on a journey into what happened eighty years ago and we hover around this lost moment through different stories and memories from before and after. Using autobiographical memories interwoven with ‘communicated’ memories, Sonja guides you through crucial scenes from her life and that of her parents. A story that leads from Paramaribo to Amsterdam and back, via the Jewish Psychiatric Center ‘Het Apeldoornsche Bosch’. Sonja is always by your side and she keeps you grounded. Together we build a virtual presence of what was lost and finally give Sonja back her story. 

Directed by Maartje Wegdam & Nienke Huitenga. 

A Copper Views production, in co-production with Studio Biarritz.

Expected release in 2024.