France, Spain, Cuba | 80 MINUTES
THE SUGAR CURTAIN
Diaspora meets nostalgia on the crumbling pavements of Havana in this charming, provocative memoir. When the military dictatorship led by Augusto Pinochet toppled Chile's elected government of Salvador Allende in 1973, a transnational exile culture was born. Camila Guzmán Urzúa speaks for that culture's second generation. The filmmaker, daughter of renowned documentarian Patricio Guzmán (Battle of Chile; Chile, Obstinate Memory; The Pinochet Case), grew up in Cuba. In The Sugar Curtain, Guzmán recalls her Communist pioneer childhood as idyllic and returns to visit her one-time classmates. Few are left. Many have dispersed into yet another diaspora, driven away from Cuba by the hard times following the collapse of the U.S.S.R. and its subsidies. Those who remain grapple with how to make ends meet, but the people they feel sorry for are the children-who no longer grow up with an ebullient sense of having history in their hands. This elegantlyexecuted memoir-astonishingly, a debut film-takes on hard issues gracefully. Guzmán recognizes that her childhood paradise was a prison for many, and that her community of grandmothers could be, for some, a nest of informers. Leaving the post-Fidel speculation for others, the filmmaker focuses on what it meant to have world-changing dreams, with all their contradictions, on one small island. Letting her own story open the door to those of others, Guzmán engages us with the human drama of growing up socialist.