A Cup of Sugar

A reclusive non-conforming immigrant arouses fear and suspicion within a conservative insular community. Adults and children ridicule and tease the newcomer. Pushed to the brink, the immigrant somehow survives an overdose.

Some neighbours' efforts at engagement are rejected due to the immigrant’s anxiety and shyness.

A man is out of sugar, an essential for his morning tea. He attempts to borrow some from a neighbour, but nobody is home.

With mischievous curiosity, cup in hand, he approaches the immigrant's home. A nosey neighbour peers from net curtains as Sugar-seeker hesitates before nervously knocking on the immigrant’s door.

The immigrant opens the door, then slams it shut, leaving Sugar-seeker bewildered. The immigrant returns, catches the cup as it falls from a gobsmacked Sugar-seeker’s hand, produces a container of sugar and fills the cup before returning it to his visitor. Sugar-seeker is offered tea.

Both drink tea and converse. The immigrant shares life events, from Brazil, a deceased spouse, an avid philatelist.

Sugar-seeker is obliged to view the extensive stamp collection - more than once! The immigrant takes medication while Sugar-seeker expresses gratitude for his own good health. It is night-time when Sugar-seeker departs.

Sugar-seeker leaves with his cup of sugar and a fresh understanding of his neighbour and new friend. The immigrant discards props used to hide from society’s gaze, understanding acceptance and friendship are now possible.

Sugar-seeker returns home, places the cup of sugar by the cold cup of tea, which now contains a floating dead fly.

Some time later unusual activity is evident outside the immigrant’s home as belongings are loaded onto a truck. A note reads, ‘Can’t do long goodbyes. Will write’, and a phrase in Portuguese meaning, ‘Until we meet again’. The neighbours are saddened by their friend’s departure.

Circa twenty-five years later, the immigrant unexpectedly shows up at a neighbourhood funeral. Many mourners are shocked by the eccentric stranger, but the older neighbours recognise their friend. The grown children are reintroduced to the immigrant.

After the funeral the immigrant visits Sugar-seeker for tea and produces bundles of letters, one meant for the deceased and one for Sugar-seeker. The immigrant is regretful, having lacked the courage to send the letters.

They laugh, gallows humour like, as both now take similar medication.

The immigrant surveys the changed neighbourhood while departing.

Sugar-seeker receives a text message. It’s from the immigrant, ‘You still owe me a cup of sugar’. Sugar-seeker smiles.

  • Denis Kiely
    Two Can Play That Game.
  • Denis Kiely
    Two Can Play That Game.
  • Denis Kiely
    Two Can Play That Game.
  • Sonia Laredo
    Key Cast
    "The Immigrant"
  • Sugar Seeker
    Key Cast
    "Denis Kiely"
    Two Can Play That Game.
  • Christopher O'Flaherty
    Key Cast
    "Nosey neighbour"
    Two Can Play That Game.
  • Ursula O'Connell
    Key Cast
    "Mrs. Cotter"
  • Project Type:
  • Runtime:
    19 minutes 8 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    May 10, 2021
  • Production Budget:
    1,000 EUR
  • Country of Origin:
  • Country of Filming:
  • Language:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director Biography - Denis Kiely

Denis has had a varied career path. He worked at the post office, phone company, as a semi-professional athlete - a long distance runner. He drove a taxi, worked as a Mexican tour bus driver (not kidding), a school teacher, a California real estate agent, and a children's entertainment provider.

He has recently taken on new challenges as an actor, producer, director and writer and he loves it!

Now based in his home city, Cork, Ireland, Denis has written stage and screenplays that have been successful locally and nationally. His aim is to reach for the stars and hopes his latest project, the emotional heart tugging film, A Cup of Sugar, will be appreciated at film festivals and by audiences the world over.

Denis has three beautiful daughters, two surviving and one who has gone to her eternal reward, though she remains in his heart and thoughts at all times.

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Director Statement

The plight of immigrants is very much in the news. Having spent many years living and working in another country, I have an understanding of what this kind of life entails, albeit I haven’t experienced the horrid discrimination and exploitation endured by some.

I am still struck by the images of a Syrian toddler lying face down, dead, on a Turkish beach and that of a Turkish policeman carrying the tiny body away. I am proud of the efforts of the Irish and other European navy crews who plucked people from the Mediterranean sea in recent years.

Several years ago during a creative writing class, I wrote what later struck me as a very emotional piece. I shared my short story with some friends who were impressed and encouraged me to do more with it, a fictional tale of a reclusive immigrant living in a very conservative and insular Irish neighbourhood.

I decided to turn my one-and-a-half page short story into a short film script.

As the original story contained no dialogue, I decided a minimal dialogue film would best communicate my story and the message therein. After all, immigrants are frequently denied a voice, whether by language barriers or by political or criminal design.

Rather than focusing on headline hitting immigration issues, this story focuses on ordinary people dealing with ordinary, seemingly insignificant everyday matters at a local level. A Cup of Sugar addresses the type of issues that too often go unnoticed in the media, but can seriously affect people’s lives, too often with severe consequences that never get reported.

I am excited about sharing this touching tale and the very important and often forgotten message it contains.