Dutch Television Features Series on Fatherless Sons: “Zonen zonder vader”

Dutch public television (NTR) has been airing a fascinating series on men who have grown up without a father’ presence, “Zonen zonder vader” [Fatherless Sons]. According to producer Frank van Osch (Van Osch Produkties), this four-part TV series deals with “the sons of absent fathers; fathers who weren’t there when they were boys and really needed a fatherly presence. Six young men—from a variety of cultures—are followed on their personal search to find their fathers. ‘Why weren’t you there for me?’ was their burning question, and we can see and feel their pain when they try to find answers.” The first documentary film in this series was aired on December 3, 2011; for the film, Absent Fathers, van Osch and Curaçao-born military man Wensly Francisco traveled to Curaçao, where Francisco went to look for his own unknown father.

Description:  Absent Fathers is “about not having a father who is proud of you or tells you how the world turns, who offers neither support nor love, and is not there to grab you by the scruff of the neck to correct you when needed.” As a seven year old boy, Wensly left with his mother to Netherlands and settled in Tilburg. There he grew up with only his mother, because his father had left them. Francisco states that around sixty percent of boys of Caribbean descent in Netherlands are in a similar situation. By exploring this topic, says Francisco, “I want to show that our community has a problem. As long as we do not talk about it, it will only get worse. [. . .] I had to take care of myself. My youth was not carefree.” In his teens, he was in danger (as he himself says) of going down the wrong path. But although was not good at school, still he managed to graduate. One day he got up and realized that he had enough of his life as it was going and he enrolled in the army. Now that the 31-year-old is now himself a father, this fueled the urge to find out more about his own father.

In the documentary Wensly travels to Curaçao, where his meeting with his father is painful but, at the same time, revealing. He also meets his half-sister. For the documentary, Wensly also interviewed women on Curaçao asking them, “What do you think about absent fathers?”

[Many thanks to Peter Jordens for his help with research and with the translation from Dutch.]

For more information (in Dutch), see http://www.rnw.nl/caribiana/article/documentaire-over-vaderloze-jeugd-papa-waar-was-je and http://www.vofprodukties.tv/default.asp?pageID=459&Title=

Also see http://www.sidmagazine.nl/roots/tula-creeerde-het-begin-van-het-einde/

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