The Prison Village - Veenhuizen in the Twentieth Century

'The Prison Village - Veenhuizen in the Twentieth Century' depicts the history of a peculiar Dutch village. From being an asylum for beggars and tramps, it was transformed into a severely guarded prison colony nicknamed Dutch Siberia. Our guide, writer Mariët Meester, who grew up there, went back to do research for two books. She managed to win the confidence of former guards.

  • Jaap de Ruig
    What David Sees (creative documentary, 2015, 39 min.) - Caprice des Dieux - life after a bicycle accident (creative documentary, 2013, 24 min.) - The Source - One Day in a Roma Settlement in Romania (creative documentary, 2009, 40 min.) - Lummi Indian Cemetery (2009, video installation, loop 10'.48'') - The Army of Split Souls (2007, 7 life size video installations) - The Power of Imperfection (2003-2005, 6 video installations) - We are Poetry (2001-2002, 22 shorts) - 52 WEEKS (2000, 52 shorts) - Man (1999, video installation, loop 4'.30'') - Girl (1998, video installation, loop 1'.28'') - The Struggle  (1998, video installation, loop 30 min.)
  • Stichting Beeldlijn, Lejo Siepe
    Since 1986 Foundation Beeldlijn makes documentary films about the cultural, social and political life in the northern Netherlands.
  • Jaap de Ruig - camera, editing, music
    Key Cast
  • Mariët Meester - interviews
    Key Cast
  • Louise Koopman - interview
    Key Cast
  • Remmelt Lukkien - advices
    Key Cast
  • Diederick Abbink - translation
    Key Cast
  • Project Title (Original Language):
    Het gevangenisdorp - Veenhuizen in de twintigste eeuw
  • Project Type:
  • Genres:
    oral history, penitentiary history, twentieth century, the Netherlands, WW II
  • Runtime:
    48 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    September 1, 2014
  • Production Budget:
    25,000 EUR
  • Country of Origin:
  • Country of Filming:
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
    Black & White and Color
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • Dutch National Prison Museum
    Veenhuizen, the Netherlands
    September 11, 2014
    Dutch premiere
  • Noordelijk Film Festival
    Leeuwarden, the Netherlands
    November 6, 2014
  • RTV Drenthe, 2014
    Northern region of the Netherlands
  • Podium TV, 2015
    Northern region of the Netherlands
Director Biography - Jaap de Ruig

Jaap de Ruig is a Dutch filmmaker and artist living in Amsterdam. He makes video installations, shorts etc. In 2009 he completed his first creative documentary The Source - One Day in a Roma settlement in Romania. This film had its première at the International Film Festival Rotterdam. His other works have been shown at exhibitions in museums and art galleries across Europe. In 2010 his project Wisdom and Hell was selected for No Holds Barred, Art Amsterdam. In the autumn of 2014 the documentary Het gevangenisdorp - Veenhuizen in de twintigste eeuw (The Prison Village - Veenhuizen in the Twentieth Century) had its Dutch premiere. In May 2015 he finished the project What David Sees with a book, a video installation, an exhibition and a documentary with the same title.

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Director Statement

Video and film make use of the existing reality in order to create a new reality which investigates the existing one. Anything can be recorded: suffering, death, the struggle between man and nature and between individuals. Especially in my early work animal behavior played an important role as a metaphor for human life. In 2007 I made a series of life-size video installations 'The Army of Split Souls', in which I multiplied myself. Each installation represents archetypal values like anxiety, loneliness or liberation. But humour is not lacking, without humour life becomes unbearable. In recent years I mainly focused on making documentaries, without denying my background of being a visual artist.