Projects from Chile and Cuba Awarded with Sundance Doc Grant


Three Latin American films were among the 29 awarded projects that will receive funds from the Sundance Institute's Documentary Film Program and Fund (DFP) totaling $550,000. The three awarded Latin American projects, all of them at the development stage, are Maite Alberdi's Children (pictured left) and Carola Fuentes' Chicago Boys both from Chile, and the Cuban-Spanish co-production Hotel Nueva Isla by Irene Gutierrez and Javier Labrador.

Alberdi's film focuses on the Chilean support for people with Down Syndrome, which ends at 25, but life expectancy is now in the 50s. A group of friends are facing a stage they were never prepared for, because no one ever expected them to grow up or get old.

Fuentes' Chicago Boys tells how a group of Milton Friedman’s disciples – backed by a military dictatorship in the ‘70s – managed to turn Chile into the first and most extreme model of neoliberalism in the world. Hotel Nueva Isla tells the story of Jorge, who lives with his four neighbors in the formerly luxurious Hotel Nueva Isla in Old Havana. Now in ruins, it is a shelter for people living on the fringes of society. Evacuation becomes imminent, but Jorge resists abandoning the building.

Other Latino-themed winners include the American projects Southwest of Salem: The Story of the San Antonio Four by Deborah S. Esquenazi, Marmato by Mark Grieco, and The Hand that Feeds by Rachel Lears and Robin Blotnick. Southwest of Salem tells the story of four Chicana lesbians languish in Texas prisons, found guilty of sexually assaulting two girls ages 7 and 9. Now, advocates and attorneys believe that a spurned suitor's revenge, homophobia and 'junk science' were key factors in their conviction. The film also explores the tedious process of exonerating innocents in Texas.

Marmato (pictured right) is a documentary feature about an artisan gold-mining village in rural Colombia on the precipice of opportunity and destruction as a Canadian mining company plans a massive regional investment. For five centuries these miners have lived in the lush Andes Mountains; the gold being their only source of sustenance. This intimate portrait follows the lives of the villagers as they struggle to preserve their centuries old way of life and confront the arrival of large-scale mining operations.

The Hand that Feeds follows 12 undocumented immigrant workers that take on a well-known New York City restaurant chain owned by powerful investors. This David-and-Goliath story explores what it takes for ordinary people to stand up for their dignity, and win.