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Short documentary / 2019 / 13:52


In director Paula Cury's home country of the Dominican Republic, sexual education is almost nonexistent, teen pregnancy rates are staggeringly high, and abortion is illegal in all circumstances. Adrift seeks to expose layers of social issues including disregard for women's rights, toxic masculinity, domestic violence, and a political system coerced by religion. But even as they face tremendous adversity, expecting mothers as young as 14 reveal a fierce determination and a collective hope for a better future.


Director statement

My home country of the Dominican Republic is a gem in the Atlantic. The pristine beaches and turquoise water are all there, as spectacular in real life as they appear to be on the brochure. But along with the natural splendor are many of the problems associated with a developing nation, and specifically, problems connected to sexual health and reproductive rights. The DR has one of the highest rates of teen pregnancy in the world, and it is one of only five countries in the world where abortion is illegal in all circumstances.

In making Adrift, I wanted to explore the story behind the statistics on teenage pregnancy and femicides by exposing some of the most detrimental layers woven into Dominican society: government corruption, extreme poverty, toxic masculinity, and the powerful role of religion in matters of the state. I saw the direct line from these systemic issues to the individuals impacted.

My hope is to convey the message that as long as women deny their full reproductive freedom, girls will continue to get pregnant and the doors of opportunities and possibilities will remain closed to them. My intention is to give a face to those statistics, to show that they are not just numbers, and they are not distant cases; they are situations faced by girls and women close to all of us, they are real stories, they are constant struggles that are made impossible by the lack of education and lack of choices in a country where women's rights are not respected.



Best Short Documentary/Gran Prize: (RIIFF’s Official Academy Nomination)

Judge's comment: A film that offers us an intimate and sincere perspective of the Dominican Republic. One that is both apt and poignant.


"A final standout at BLIFF was the documentary short Adrift (A la Deriva, 2019) by Dominican director Paula Cury Melo. In thirteen minutes yet another epidemic upstaged by the current COVID-19-crisis emerges: pregnancy in the Dominican Republic. In a country without a separation of church and state, sexual education is absent from school and all forms of abortion are illegal. Through informal interviews, women as young as eleven years old look into the camera while blaming themselves for ‘failing’ by getting pregnant. It is these women alone that contemplate what they could have done better which makes the larger systematic failures even more blatant to audiences, leaving young Dominican women paying for the state’s inadequacies for the rest of their lives.".


“This has to go viral for girls in my country to see this and maybe then they will think and seek help or information before taking any steps. Thank you Cristal Cine.”


“AMAZING PROJECT ❤️ Thank you for being the voice of these girls and these mujeres❤️”


"Excellent documentary, thank you for giving voice to these beautiful warriors, let them know they are not alone. The sadness in Selena and Viazlin's eyes, it breaks my soul in two! How they feel that their life is no longer there, to be a mother so young. Thanks to the creators, for giving visibility to this problem that they have always wanted to keep in the shadows for so long. We must encourage early sex education and communication between parents and children.”


Production Companies: Cristal Cine (RD), Atomic Clock (EEUU)

Producers: Paula Cury Melo, Gabriel Long, Rebecca Atwood

Director: Paula Cury Melo

Cinematographer: Alejandro Cortés

Production Coordinator: La Peque

Editors: Gabriel Long, Paul Mounsey, Paula Cury Melo

Colorist: Diego Cordero

Music: Luis Miguel Pérez

Festival & Awards

Flickers' Rhode Island International Film Festival 2020 / Best Documentary Short (academy awards qualification)

Miami Film Festival 2020 / HBO Iberoamerican Short Film Award (runner up)

HBO Latino New York Film Festival 2020

Boston Latino International Film Festival 2020 / Best Documentary Short

Festival de Nuevo Cine Latinoamericano de la Habana

Cinema Diva Montreal

Festival Latin Uy Competencia Oficial de Cortometrajes

Las Cruces International Film Festival                                                            International Children Care Film Festival

Paris International Feminist Film Festival 

One Country One Film International Festival 

CASCADIA International Women's Film Festival

Madrid Human Right's Film Festival

Nouveaux Regards Film Festival

Festival de Cine Global Dominicano / 1er lugar Cortometrajes

Courage Film Festival

Festival de Cine Libélula Dorada

Dusty Film Festival / Special Jury Award for Social Documentary

American Society of Cinematographers (ASC) / Haskell Wexler Award for Best Cinematography

Cine Fem 8 Competencia Oficial de Cortometrajes

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