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A Cry for Freedom, Love and Justice: “Flor de Azúcar” Wins Over Audience in Washington DC at it US Premiere

November 3, 2016

Washington DC- It was truly a night to remember. The US premiere of veteran film director Fernando Báez’s Flor de Azúcar (Sugar Fields) at the opening night of the Dominican Film Showcase in Washington DC turned into a tribute to Dominican film, Dominican women and one of the best Dominican writers of all time, Juan Bosch…and of course, Fernando Báez himself. In addition, other pleasant news emerged: Flor de Azúcar has been shortlisted as a nominee for Best Foreign Film at this year’s Academy Awards, a milestone in Dominican and Latin American film history.

The Gala Theater was the venue for the inauguration of the Dominican Film Showcase, organized by GFDD in the nation’s capital, now in its third year. Fernando Báez, his wife María Cordero and GFDD Executive Director, Natasha Despotovic attended the event along with other distinguished personalities, including the Ambassador of the Dominican Republic in the United States, José Tomás Pérez; Permanent Representative from Chile to the OAS, Juan Aníbal Barria; Gretchen Pockels, Dominican Cultural Attaché in the United States, and Minister Counselor, José Luis Dominguez.

Inspired by Juan Bosch’s story, “La nochebuena de Encarnación Mendoza,Flor de Azúcar takes place in the Dominican Republic in 1948-1949, in the sugar cane fields. The lives of two peasant couples, one Dominican and one Haitian, intertwine as we hear the story of Samuel – extraordinarily played by Hector Hannibal. Samuel is a young Dominican farmer of strong principles who confronts the hostility and injustice of the Trujillo dictatorship. It is, in the words of Báez himself, “a cry of freedom, love and justice.”  Produced from a script of over 140 pages written by the filmmaker himself, the project took over then years to complete with a budget of over a million dollars.

Following the screening, a long conversation took place in which the audience, Mr. Báez and Ms. Despotovic discussed many issues related to the film in an intimate and affectionate exchange.

Referring to initiatives such as the GFDD’s Dominican Film Showcase, Báez said: “The great challenge of Dominican filmmakers is the distribution of our work. And when we see initiatives like this, we feel that thanks to these types of events, we have platforms and we can tell the world: ‘we are here.’ The selection of films and the support adds great significance to our efforts.”

The Executive Director of the GFDD explained that the Dominican Film Showcase seeks to present the best films recently produced in the Dominican Republic, by Dominican filmmakers, on Dominican issues, “with the intention of capturing a complete and positive view the country.” Despotovic also emphasized that it is about “using the seventh art as a platform for debate and discussion and as a means to raise social awareness and promote constructive change while publicizing on an international level the issues that have historical and cultural importance for the Dominican community.”

In its mission to promote a better understanding and appreciation of Dominican culture and offer Dominican filmmakers opportunities for international screening opportunities, the GFDD is creating partnerships with international institutions which also offers viewers around the world the opportunity to become familiar with Dominican culture and to enjoy its art and meet and speak with filmmakers, added the GFDD Executive Director.

About Fernando Báez
Born in the Dominican Republic January 23, 1957, Báez comes from a long family tradition of photographers and filmmakers. His grandfather, Tuto Báez produced the first full-length film in the Dominican Republic. An extensive list of feature films, documentaries, video clips, commercial campaigns and television programs adorn his career as an award-winning and renowned director with a marked tendency to the preservation of the environment and contents rooted in values. His debut was The King of Najayo in 2012, in 2013 his documentary Lake Enriquillo: Prelude to Climate Change, and this 2016 premieres his much-anticipated feature Flor de Azúcar; he will close the year with Misión Estrella. Báez is the founder of Unicorn Films 1988, the oldest producing company in the country that has served as a school to a considerable number of technicians and professionals in the area. Filmmaking continues to be a family tradition with his 6 children following his steps. Opens the law of incentive to the cinema in his country and since then it has continued to develop several projects for the film.

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