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Dominican inspired film Sugar wows Washington Audience at Cine Americas: Dominican Republic

July 19, 2011

Washington DC, 7/19/2011
Five Stars! That’s the audience’s verdict on last evening’s full-house screening of Sugar, the opening night film of the Dominican Film Showcase, in partnership with the Art Museum of the Americas of the OAS and presented as Cine Americas: Dominican Republic, hosted by GFDD and FUNGLODE, in Washington, DC yesterday.

Life, energy and talent radiated from this entertaining and touchingly accurate production which centers on the Miguel “Sugar” Santos, a Dominican baseball player struggling to make it in the big leagues and pull his family out of poverty. He gets his break at 19, when he is recruited to the US minor leagues and travels from his tight knit community to a small town in Iowa. Miguel struggles with the new language and culture despite the welcoming efforts of his host family. When his play on the mound falters, he begins examining the world around him and ultimately questions the single-mindedness of his life’s ambition. What starts out as a classic rags to riches sports story turns in to a much more complex and realistic examination of what it means for young athletes to chase their dreams.

Summing up Sugar’s success GFDD Director in Washington DC, Asun Sanz, explained that the movie explores a fascinating side of America’s pastime as well as what it embodies to people outside the country.

In the Q & A session that followed, special guest Algenis Pérez Soto, the film’s main character, Sugar, said he himself was a fledgling baseball player before being discovered by the movie’s directors, Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden whilst playing in his home town of San Pedro de Macoris — a Dominican city known for its high number of MLB stars.

The charismatic actor lauded the Directors saying that making the film was an organic experience in that they spent a lot of time communicating and putting him at his ease. Aware that he and some of the locals had never acted before, they allowed them to amend the script and use colloquial speech to give the film an added layer of authenticity.

Pérez Soto, whose real life story could well have mirrored that of Sugar’s had he not been plucked from obscurity, said that the story is all too familiar in the DR and for many there is no fairy-tale ending. He said the movie’s message to have education or a “Plan B” in place is very clear. Fortunately, for Pérez Soto, the movie has changed his life, he has learnt English, met a lot of interesting people on his travels, and now feels prepared to take on more acting roles.

The well-received screening and following reception was provided with the support of the Embassy of the Dominican Republic to the US. The Dominican Mission to the OAS also provided assistance in staging the event, which took place in the stunning Art Museum of the Americas. The goal of the Museum is to nurture an understanding of, and appreciation for, diverse peoples, their history, the beauty they create, and their struggles to survive and preserve their culture whilst adapting to a changing world. GFDD and FUNGLODE hope to continue this partnership with the Art Museum of the Americas, home to the arts and culture of the Region, in future creative projects, portraying the Dominican talent to the Hemisphere.

Beginning in Washington DC, the Dominican Film Showcase aims to present, share, and celebrate the stories, characters and history of the Dominican Republic with an international audience. It continues with La Hija Natural on July 20, Jean Gentil, on July 22 and The Republic of Baseball on July 22.

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