How do you deal with the fact that someone close to heart has suddenly disappeared without a trace? Can you go on living whilst waiting for his return?
We only hear voice-mail messages, recorded on the mobile phone of a certain Onno. We see beautiful, perfectly framed images of different places, varying from a business park to a palm beach in the Pacific. AFTER THE TONE does not have normal scenes with dialogue.
From the voice-mail messages it becomes clear that Onno is a successful designer, who together with his associate Adriaan runs a thriving agency. Claudia is their secretary. We see a brand-new building with lots of glass situated at the waterside of an old business park. It is an image that keeps coming back, in different seasons, in different moments of the day. Is Adriaan in that building when he calls Onno? Do we see his point of view when we see a boat with sand sailing? It seems so. Onno has many friends and acquaintances. Some he sees regularly, others only sporadically. They live everywhere: we see a palm island, a forest with budding anemones, a busy street in Bratislava. All the images have carefully been selected, have meaning and are impressive.
Onno’s parents live in the east of the country. We see a street where labourers from the neighbouring textile factory used to reside: another recurring image. There are small changes, seemingly trivial events. His sister Annet lives with her son in a small house in the countryside. Onno’s girlfriend Saskia now and then visits his house to feed the cats.
On the day that Onno is announced to have won an important prize, he is untraceable. He doesn’t return anybody’s calls left on his voice-mail. We hear the messages that people have left on his voice-mail during the following year. It is the only way in which we get to know Onno. Everything we know about him, we know from the messages left behind. At first it seems that Onno is only temporarily unreachable: the callers do not know yet that Onno will not return their calls. Onno is wholeheartedly congratulated with his prize, his girlfriend Saskia wants to meet up in the evening, his sister Annet reminds him of his father’s birthday and Adriaan urgently tries to reach him because they have an important meeting with a Japanese business-relation.
Gradually it appears that Onno has disappeared, and no one knows where and why. Between the lines it becomes clear how people are struggling with his disappearance. Who was Onno actually for him to suddenly disappear? Did friends and family overlook that he wasn’t all right? Did they even have real contact with him?
During that year Adriaan realizes that he cannot continue with their joint business on his own. Onno’s father also dies that year, and his sister desperately seeks refuge in spirituality. We hear the emotional roller coaster of anger, denial, despair and eventually resignation wherein all these people find themselves.
At the end, only Onno’s girlfriend Saskia is left. She is far away, at the last place where a transaction has been made with Onno’s credit card. She still waits for him. Maybe one day, they will see each other again.
Cast: (only voice)
Dragan Bakema (Adriaan)
Olga Zuiderhoek (mother)
Josefien Hendriks (Saskia)
Rifka Lodeizen (Annet)
Moniek Kramer (Claudia)
direction: Digna Sinke
screenplay: Henk Burger and Digna Sinke
camera: Digna Sinke
editing: Albert Elings and Digna Sinke
sound design: Marc Lizier / Klink
image post-production: Loods Lux & Lumen
producer: Digna Sinke
the film was made with support from:
Abraham Tuschinski fonds