The Price of Sugar
2007 | 90 min
In 1997, appalled by the plight of the up to 20,000 Haitians annually lured into laboring for low wages on sugar plantations in the Dominican Republic, Catholic priest Christopher Hartley begins advocating to improve their working conditions. As a missionary in a rural parish, Hartley offers medical care and organizes a strike. His efforts anger the wealthy plantation owners, who stoke the Dominicans' hatred against the Haitians they feel are taking their jobs.
“Sugar Cane’s Bitter Harvest in the Dominican Republic -- “The Price of Sugar,” Bill Haney’s muckraking documentary about Haitians lured into a form of indentured servitude on sugar plantations across the border in the Dominican Republic, focuses on the Rev. Christopher Hartley, a courageous and stubborn Spanish priest who devoted 10 years to bettering their desperate plight…"
~ Stephen Holden, The New York Times
“Explores an unheralded but emotionally affecting issue in a straight-forward and engaging manner.”
~ Geoff Berkshire, The Chicago Tribune
"While the political implications of the film are provocative, "Sugar" also happens to be an impressive cinematic achievement. This picture has a visual sweep that many docu films lack; the plantations and nearby towns are vividly evoked…"
~ Stephen Farber, The Hollywood Reporter
“Designed to educate, outrage and finally spur viewers to action. That it does so with vibrant visual style and an engaging narrative makes it that rare consciousness-raising film that's not only good for you, but a joy to watch.”
~ Ann Hornaday, The Washington Post
"Out of this sorry tale of human trafficking emerges a fascinating portrait of this handsome, pugnacious, one-man NGO, who left a cushy life with his patrician Anglo-Spanish family to work with Mother Theresa and devote himself to the oppressed."
~ Ella Taylor, The Village Voice
"It's still difficult to find accurate information about where and when Bill Haney's profoundly disturbing documentary The Price of Sugar will be opening commercially in the United States. Partly this is because the Vicini family, sugar barons of the Dominican Republic, have hired Patton Boggs, a major Washington law firm, to try to halt the film's release, or at least paint it as slanted and defamatory…"
~ Andrew O'Hehir, Salon.com
"This documentary has no bells and whistles; Bill Haney, the director and co-writer (with Peter Rhodes), sticks to the facts."
~ Walter Addiego, The San Francisco Chronicle
"A solid and affecting piece of work."
~ Joe Leydon, Variety
"Offers yet another example of how a lot of what we consume is produced at somebody else's expense. In this case, it's sugar."
~ Wesley Morris, The Boston Globe