Writer Norman DePalm offers two romantic dramas that bring to light the culture and character of the island. Set in Curacao in the 1940s, "Ava & Gabriel: A Love Story" (Felix de Rooy, 1990, 100 mins.) tells of the painter Gabriel Goedbloed, who arrives from Holland to paint a mural of the Virgin Mary in St. Anna's Church. Although Gabriel is there at the request of St. Anna's parish priest, the clergy and local citizens are surprised to find that he is black--originally from Surinam. The colonial Antillian society proves less than tolerant towards the visitor, especially after he chooses as his model a young teacher, Ava, who is engaged to a white police official. When the Dutch Governor's wife also becomes interested in Gabriel, tensions and hypocrisies rise within the community. Addressing the complex and difficult state of race relations in the Netherlands, "Papa's Song" (Sander Francken, 1999, 95 mins.) is "an interesting drama of domestic tension and cross-cultural misunderstanding" (The New York Times). The peaceful life of a Dutch magistrate, his wife from Curacao, and her two young nephews, turns suddenly volatile when the wife's sister arrives on the scene. The sisters' stormy relationship is complicated when the wife, unable to have children, tries to convince her husband to impregnate her sister. In Dutch and Papiamento with English subtitles.
Felix de Rooy/Sander Francken---Netherlands/Curacao---1990/1999---195 mins.