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LEFT WITH NO FORWARDING ADDRESS | TF1 | Reportages

“He went out for a packet of cigarettes. And he never came back.”We may think such stories only happen in films. And yet every year more than 40,000 people¾including 18,000 adults¾disappear without leaving an address. Although the majority is quickly found, several thousand vanish into the environment. Whether the disappearances are suspicious or voluntary, the questions for those left behind remain the same: Why? Where did he/she go? What happened?

Gone for a few months, several years or a lifetime, we followed their loved ones on their quests… experiencing hope, disappointment, but also, sometimes, reunions.

Michel has been looking for his wife, Jo, for five years. This retiree, subject to depression, left one fine summer morning. “She was walking in the garden. She was wearing one of my T-shirts, shorts and my sandals. And when I came back, she wasn’t there anymore.”Such remains Michel’s very exact memory. He alerts the gendarmes, who treat the disappearance as suspicious. Searches are organized, a helicopter scans the area, a tracker dog unit hunts for Jo… in vain. She disappeared into thin air. Since then, Michel has been fighting on alone to find his wife. He created a Facebook page and travels all over France, reacting to sightings. “Every time, you arrive a few days too late, it’s one case of bad luck after another.” Recently, he’s had fresh hope. Several people have spotted his wife in the Masque area. So Michel will conduct his own little investigation.

Luc and Régine are looking for their son, Emilien. This adventurous thirty-year-old abruptly cut his ties with his family and friends five months ago leaving them in a state of anxiety. Emilien set out on foot, alone with his backpack, to travel the roads of Europe. Last August, he was about to start his return trip when he abandoned his belongings in Marseille and left a mysterious note for his parents. They immediately imagine the worst, but a few days later their son is spotted on the Italian border. Since then, nothing. Where is he? Has anything happened to him? “Emilien is an adult, he can disappear if he wants to, cut his ties and make a new life somewhere else. We would just like some sign that he’s alive, that would be good.”To find out more, his parents are setting out on his trail in Italy, where he was last seen. “We think he might be hiding in one of those alternative farms, or communities that cut themselves off, that would be like him.”

Some people are looking for a loved one who’s been gone much longer. Myriam, aged 46, is hoping to find some trace of her big sister, adopted when she was just a child. “I tell myself: as long as she’s had a good life too. It intrigues me, I want to know more.”She tried to find some trace of her by herself a few years ago, but only managed to glean a few details that didn’t take her far. So, Myriam hired a private detective to find this sister whom she doesn’t know. The detective will first have to discover the new identity of the woman before he can approach her. “I always have to be sure that a person is aware he or she is adopted before I can proceed any further. I’m treading on eggshells, it’s a very sensitive subject.”We follow the detective on his investigation, filled with emotions and twists.