Sugar Blues, sweetness can kill
by Camillo De Marco
- A highly personal documentary from Andrea Culkova about the sugar lobby and the harm sugar is doing to our bodies
Sugar Blues is a scientific educational book that was written by American writer William Dufty in 1975 and became a bestseller with 1.6 million copies sold around the world. Dufty accused the sweet substance of causing addiction and serious harm to the human body, and provided evidence that public health institutions were in cahoots with lobbies for the confectionery and soft drink industry.
Forty years later Andrea Culkova, a Czech visual artist and documentary-maker, is pregnant with her fourth child. She is diagnosed with gestational diabetes, so no sweet substances for her. Unfortunately sugar is everywhere, even where we least expect it. Andrea embarks on a personal and meticulous investigation, which leads her to make Sugar Blues [+see also:
film profile], a documentary that was screened at this year’s Biografilm Fest in Bologna.
In the film we see Andrea meet with experts, doctors and nutritionists, on a journey which takes her from the USA, land of sugary drinks, to Germany and the headquarters of Haribo, to South Sudan, where we see the sneaky penetration of sugary products into everyday life. It is a journey that soon turns into an awareness campaign: "Sugar can kill".
"Initially I was concerned for my child”, explains the director. “But that was just the point of departure of a long journey. I clearly saw that behind the sugar industry is enormous power and someone pulling the strings”.
The style of the documentary is to place emphasis on grotesque details, for example the irony that the sugar cube was invented in the city of Dačice in 1843. The Czech Republic used it as its symbol during its Presidency of the European Union.
"We’re swimming in a sea of sugar and there’s nothing natural about sugar: our bodies were not made to stand these chemical substances that damage our immune systems, hearts, intestines and brains”, explains Andrea Culkova. "We’re responsible for our bodies, so we should eat normal food, not products that are a far cry from it. We have to keep fighting, I now see how important this is if things are to change. Since making the documentary we’ve been trying to work with small organisations to set up a sort of movement. We’re looking for people who are open-minded and want to change their lives”.
(Translated from Italian)