Summer 2009 Summer Films series
Sunday, July 26, 2009 at 8:00pm
Directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck
Screenplay by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck
Starring Algenis Perez Soto, Rayniel Rufino, Andre Holland, Michael Gaston
Rated NR ·
English and Spanish
Sugar approaches with tender care the story of a kid from the Caribbean who has a strong pitching arm and a good heart. Major League baseball recruits Miguel Santos (Algenis Perez Soto) from the fields of dreams in his homeland and assigns him to an Iowa farm club that is far from home.
This groundbreaking film is about race, class, money, sex, isolation, the immigrant experience, lost ideals and, yes, baseball. Santos, known as “Sugar” because of his sweet personality, is a 19-year-old poverty-row Dominican who rides his wicked curveball to a shot at the U.S. big time. It happens sometimes. But Sugar doesn’t follow the trite Hollywood game plan. Writers/directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck (Half Nelson) are seemingly allergic to formula.
From the time Sugar leaves home for minor-league tryouts, first in Arizona and then in heartland Iowa, the film takes us inside the head of a stranger in a strange land. Barriers are erected. Boden and Fleck are exceptional talents and serious filmmakers who refuse to sweeten Sugar for mass consumption. The result is raw and riveting. Soto, new to acting but not baseball, scores a knockout, nailing every nuance in a complex role. He plays the character so openly, so naturally, that an interesting thing happens: Baseball is only the backdrop, not the subject. This is a wonderful film. From Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times and P. Travers, Rolling Stone. Grand Jury Prize nominee, Sundance (2008).