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BITTER BEANS

With nothing but her wits as a weapon, a young Maya woman searches three continents for a fair deal and free her folks of the iron grip of the coffee traders.

Growing up, Conchita is torn between the Maya creation myth’s promise of a good life and harsh reality. The coffee dealer cheats her father and the other farmers treating their coffee beans as ‘lousy mountain pulp’ and sending soldiers when they protest. Shocked, she asks startling questions. The villages’ elders notice her gifts and press the farmers to chip in their meagre savings for her business education in town.

The college rewards her with a grant. When the dealer cheats the farmers once more they urge her to confront him. Her gift is turned into a heavy burden. On the back of her boyfriend’s small motorbike she follows the harvest from one dealer to the next. They ridicule and threaten her. Conchita and her boyfriend end up in the harbour only to see the beans disappear into the black, bottomless hold of a freighter. She hops onboard and floats away from her boyfriend on the quay.

In New York, a Salvation Army woman just looks on as Conchita’s purse with the grant is stolen from her backpack. The woman has a plan. But so does Conchita. Armed with a red laundry bag with beans, she enters the World Coffee Exchange and is thrown out as a dangerous intruder. Calling home for consolation, she learns that the harvest is worthless because of the lack of chemicals. Guild ridden she visits a lecturer she met at college. ‘Enrol the University’, the lecturer urges, ‘be somebody’. Conchita asks: ‘So I can send them handouts, like you? What difference would that make?’ To make up for her bad advice, the lecturer sends her to an acquaintance, a bureaucrat in the European Union’s headquarters in Brussels.

Calling home from the airport in New York, Conchita learns that her boyfriend works for her worst enemy, the regional dealer, and the villagers are furious with her. In Brussels the bureaucrat asks her for papers she does not have and dismisses her. A lobbyist taking her for an easy prey ends up being blackmailed and sends her to a Fair Trade organisation in Copenhagen. She learns that they do not buy coffee anymore.

Working in a trendy café in Copenhagen, she pours coffee beans from a paper bag into a grinder. It has a picture of a village just like hers. That leads her to a local coffee importer. There, the young consultant is impressed by the flavour and taste of her beans. The lack of chemicals turns out to be a hot asset. She persuades the company to send the consultant with her back to the village to do business.

Back in the village Conchita finds the plantation dying of sudden erosion and the villagers are furious with her. They ask: ‘who do you think you are dropping school like that, and who is this guy, how can we ever trust him?’ At night the villagers gather in the torch lit square. Conchita explains that dropping school started the journey which enabled her to learn more useful things: how a village across the border sells their coffee to the consultant for twice the price the villagers get. The paper bag from the trendy café goes from hand to hand. The consultant buys half of last years’ unsold harvest, so the farmers can buy materials for an irrigation system.

The beans end up in the finals of the Global tasting Cup. Conchita manages to outwit her worst enemy: the regional buyer. They win the competition and can set their own price. The villagers celebrate their luck with a traditional Mayan feast.

Script Excerpt
Written by:
Format:
Screenplay
Genres:
Budget:
Big
Starring Roles For:
A young Maya woman
woman Latin lecturer
Man consultant
In the Vein Of:
research based
inspired by true events
the Life of Pi
Posted:
01/21/2014
Updated:
10/04/2020
Author Bio:
CREDITS AND AWARDS: My script A FATAL CURE won silver at the International Independent Film Awards 2017 OTHER SCRIPTS: HANG ON: Math tests turn three ten year old girls’ friendship into hatred. Can the teacher give them their childhood back? First draft. LOVE IT OR LUMP IT: When authorities enforce nursery teachers and children alike to be standardized, one of them breaks loose. First draft.

LANGUAGES: English, Danish, Dutch, Swedish, Spanish, German, French.

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Contest Results:
International Independent (First Place, GOLD) [2017]
Richmond Fest (Finalist) [2019]
Burbank Film Festival (Finalist, Burbank INTERNATIONAL FilmFest) [2020]
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