Until now, the disturbing remnants of colonial slavery were carefully hidden in paradise.....
"The Sugar Babies" examines the moral price of sugar --present and past -- from the perspective of the conditions surrounding the children of sugar cane cutters of Haitian ancestry in the Dominican Republic, and the continuing denial of their basic human rights.
While exposing those who profit from human trafficking and exploitation, the feature length documentary film "The Sugar Babies: The Plight of the Children of Agricultural Workers in the Sugar Industry of the Dominican Republic" vividly explores the lives of those who live in circumstances that can only be considered modern day slavery. Composed of gripping field testimonies and hidden camera footage obtained during 18 months of documentation, the film also features interviews with Haiti's Ambassador to the United States, Ambassador Raymond Joseph, the U.S. Department of States' Ambassador John Miller from the Office of Human Trafficking, renowned anthropologist and sugar historian Sidney Mintz, Carol Pier from Human Rights Watch, Public Interest Attorneys Bill Quigley as well as Greg Schell, and a number of activists from the field including human rights lawyer Noemi Mendez, Colette Lespinase of G.A.R.R. Haiti [Organization for Refugees and the Repatriated] and missionaries Pierre Ruquoy and Father Christopher Hartley.
The film is narrated by award-winning author Edwidge Danticat, and contains original music by the film's composer Bill Cruz including the songs "Branded" and "The Devil's Work." The Sugar Babies" was produced through Siren Studios [Miami] in association with The Hope, Courage and Justice Project [New Orleans] and The Human Rights Foundation [New York]. The films production team includes Executive Producer Claudia Chiese, Producer and Human Rights Foundation President Thor Halvorssen, Co-Producer Constance Haqq, Production Associate Salvador Longoria, Editor and Art Director Jason Ocasio, and Composer and Field Recordist Bill Cruz. The film was written, shot, produced and directed by filmmaker Amy Serrano and was launched on March 28, 2007 at 7:00 pm from the City of New Orleans at Loyola University's Roussel Performance Hall, 6363 St. Charles Avenue. It is additionally targeted for international release via film festivals, television, universities and as an awareness creating resource for human rights organizations.
The 95 minute documentary is in Spanish, Creole, French and English and at this time, is subtitled in English.
To date, the film has encountered rabid opposition, not only from the government of the Dominican Republic, but from the sugar barons. Before the first preview screening at Florida International University in June 2007, Miami-based lawyers representing friends of the sugar industry, who own a local TV station, unsuccessfully attempted to thwart the event by sending a cease and desist letter to the university. Their letter falsely complained about 11 minutes of the film they claimed violated copyright law.
The screening went ahead.
Following the screening, the Dominican governments representative, General Consul Manuel Almanzar, rushed the stage, took the microphone, and denounced the film. The diplomat and his entourage became agitated and were asked by police officers to take their seats or leave. Days later, a media scandal erupted in Miami when a Dominican news website claimed several journalists had been approached by the Dominican consulate with envelopes containing hundreds of dollars for negative coverage of the film. One Dominican radio producer came forward claiming that he was offered thousands of dollars in cash to give a negative review of Sugar Babies. According to Dominicanoshoy.com, many such envelopes containing cash between $400 and $5,000 made an impact in the Caribbean media. These are just two recent occurrences involving the film which provide a sense of how threatened some people are by the truth.