Private Project

Demise of Sugar

Demise of Sugar explores the inception and decline of the sugar industry in Antigua and the Caribbean Islands. In a lively compilation documentary style the story of sugar is depicted with video games, youtube videos, and home movies that create irony through a montage of the cultural narratives that surround the history of the Caribbean. Antigua’s leading orator, author, and labor union activist, Sir Keithlyn B. Smith tells in colloquial voice of the British, French and Dutch involvement in the sugar industry, emancipation of slavery, and transformation of plantations to hotels, and his role in the development of labor unions in Antigua in the 1960s.

  • Dana Plays
    The Longest Walk; Love Stories My Grandmother Tells; Birth of a Pipe Organ; River Madness, and More
  • Dana Plays
  • Keithlyn B. Smith
    As Author: Symbol of Courage; Too Shoot Hard Labor: The Life and Times of an Antiguan Workingman, No Easy Pushover: A history of the working people of Antigua and Barbuda; The Antigua Worker's Union Shop Steward's Guide
  • Dana Plays
  • Dana Plays
    Key Cast
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Short
  • Runtime:
    27 minutes 25 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    November 10, 2018
  • Production Budget:
    2,500 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    Antigua and Barbuda
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
    HD 1080P
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • Madrid International Film Festival
    July 2, 2015
    Madrid Spain
    Won: Best Director of a Short Documentary; Nominated: Best Producer of a Documentary Film
  • FMX Filmmaker Series
    United States
    April 10, 2018
  • Ethnografilm Paris
    April 18, 2019
    World Premiere of 2018 Redux
Distribution Information
  • Dana Plays
    Country: Worldwide
    Rights: All Rights
  • Caribbean Tales Wolrdwide (non-exclusive)
    Country: Worldwide
    Rights: All Rights
Director Biography - Dana Plays

Dana Plays is an award winning, American film director known for her documentary, narrative and avant-garde works that interweave personal themes. Plays utilizes a experimental approach to her work, weaving a rich landscape of imagery, that combines metaphor with iconography creating poetic resonance.

Dana Plays, born in Baltimore, Maryland, is a filmmaker most known for her award winning documentary and experimental films that have shown widely throughout the world. She picked up her first camera at the age of 9 on a holiday vacation in the West Indies. She began serious study of photography at 15 years of age, when she learned to shoot with a 35mm SLR camera, developed negatives and printed her own work. She subsequently moved to the San Francisco Bay Area where she was awarded two fine arts degrees from the California College of the Arts (Bachelor and Master of Fine Arts), and launched her career as a filmmaker and digital artist. Enmeshed in the fine art scene of the San Francisco Bay Area, Plays produced a series of experimental films, that she shot and edited herself, a proponent of hands on approach to foster ones own vision.

Plays' filmography consists of 31 works in film and digital video, consisting of documentaries, experimental films and installations. Her work has been exhibited at the Whitney Museum of American Art: Color of Ritual, Color of Women, Avant-Garde Women Filmmakers of the Twentieth Century and more than 50 international film festivals, including Edinburgh, Montreal Nouveau, and Seattle International Film Festivals. Her films have garnered more than 25 film festival awards including the prestigious First Prize Jurors' Choice Award at the Black Maria Film and Video Festival for Nuclear Family; Tom Berman Award for Most Promising Filmmaker at the Ann Arbor Film Festival for Zero Hour; Best Experimental Film at the Houston International Festival for Across the Border; and Best Documentary Award at the New Orleans Film Festival for Love Stories My Grandmother Tells, which also was broadcast on VPRO, a Dutch national television network. Since 2005, Plays has had national awards and exhibitions including a Black Maria Film Festival award; a solo retrospective in Boulder, CO, at First Person Cinema, the longest standing American showcase for independent film; a digital installation of her piece Salvage Paradigm, at the Play Space Gallery, in San Francisco; a digital installations of and her video montage of Hollywood films situated in the Los Angeles River, River Madness, at the Skirball Center in Los Angeles. Plays serves on the board of directors of Canyon Cinema, in San Francisco.

Plays, professor of Film and Media Arts, and Women's Studies, at The University of Tampa has taught all aspects of film and digital production and studies since 1990, with previous teaching appointments at Syracuse University and Occidental College. At The University of Tampa, Plays teaches experimental, documentary and narrative filmmaking, world cinema, independent film and video, and women's studies.

Add Director Biography
Director Statement

DEMISE OF SUGAR is a twenty-nine minute documentary. My maternal grandmother built a hotel on Antigua, at Galley Bay, in the 1960s, when the government of the island decided to transform sugar industry to tourism. I used to visit her there and took my first picture there as a child. In 2012, I was invited down to the Galley Bay Resort Hotel by the new owner to participate in oral history project about the hotel and the island. The film is in part a tribute to her legacy, and in part continues her legacy by probing into these histories to contextualize them, historically, theoretically, socio-politically.

The first version of the film was completed in 2015, and re-edited for re-release in November 2018.