Films & Schedules

  • Sugar

  • Anna Boden

  • Ryan Fleck

English, Spanish
114 minutes

Production Company:
Journeyman Pictures, Inc./Hunting Lane Films
Executive Producer:
Anna Boden
Paul Mezey, Jamie Patricof, Jeremy Kipp Walker
Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck
Production Designer:
Beth Mickle
Andrij Parekh
Anna Boden
Tom Efinger
Michael Brook
Principal Cast: Algenis Pérez Soto

Canadian Distributor:
Mongrel Media
US Distributor:
Sony Pictures Classics
International Sales Agent:
Maximum Films International

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There are infinite variations on the American dream, which makes it such an eternal wellspring for American storytellers. Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, the writing-directing team behind Half Nelson, have found another surprising tale in Sugar, and this time it begins beyond America's borders.

In the Dominican Republic, young baseball-mad boys grow up breathing the fumes of the dream. Young men like Miguel “Sugar” Santos (Algenis Pérez Soto) pin their hopes on becoming one of the chosen few to be lifted out of poverty for a shot at the big time.

Sugar makes it, at least to the first step. Flown first to spring training in Arizona then to a minor league team in Bridgewater, Iowa, he is the proverbial fish out of water. He rooms with a kindly older couple who have taken in many young baseball prospects, but homesickness soon sets in. Despite a faltering romance with a girl named Anne, Sugar becomes increasingly lonely. When a nagging injury delays his advancement, he simply slips away.

Rather than following the triumphant arc of the sports movie genre, Sugar grounds its story in realism. Just as Boden and Fleck found such evocative moments of introspection in Half Nelson, their concern is as much Sugar's inner journey as his outer one. After beginning in familiar narrative terrain, the film breaks free of expectations, which allows it to explore the real possibilities in Sugar's life. Algenis Pérez Soto, who was recruited by the directors on a Dominican baseball diamond for this role, brings an authenticity that buoys the film's naturalism. At the same time, this is an extraordinarily painterly film, finding beauty both in an endless Iowa cornfield and in the more constrained surroundings that hold the fulfillment of Sugar's American dream.

Cameron Bailey

Anna Boden was born in Boston and studied at Columbia University. She has collaborated with Ryan Fleck on the short films Have You Seen This Man? (03, co-director) and Gowanus, Brooklyn (04, co-writer), the documentary Young Rebels (05, co-director) and the feature films Half Nelson (06, co-writer) and Sugar (08, co-writer, co-director).

Ryan Fleck was born in Berkeley, California, and studied at the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University. His filmography includes the short films Struggle (02), Have You Seen This Man? (03, co-director), Gowanus, Brooklyn (04, co-writer, director), the documentary Young Rebels (05, co-director), and the feature films Half Nelson (06, co-writer, director) and Sugar (08, co-writer, co-director).

Cadillac People's Choice Award