Miguelito (2019)

  • 1h 33m
  • Sam Zubrycki
  • Colombia, Puerto Rico, United States, Australia
  • 2019

Searching for Sugarman meets Buena Vista Social Club.

In 1973, Miguelito was one of eleven siblings, the main provider for his family. Every day he would go to the Luis Muñoz airport in Puerto Rico to sing with his brothers.

One day the legendary New York record producer Harvey Averne heard the blond boy’s mystical voice singing an adult’s musical genre, and was so entranced he missed his plane — or so the story goes.

Within a year, Miguelito had progressed from recording an album with Averne and some of the finest salsa musicians of the time to performing with Eddie Palmieri at Madison Square Garden in front of 20,000 people.

But then, Miguelito vanished.

Two of his songs, Payaso and Canto a Borinquen, had become hits throughout Latin America, and rumours spread quickly about what had happened. Miguelito had been tragically run over by a car, he’d returned to Puerto Rico and got a job as a builder (at age 13), he was in Los Angeles under a different name producing reggaeton, the Puerto Rican fusion of hip-hop, Latin and Caribbean music.

“I heard him sing ‘Payaso’,
a song which is about a lonely clown,
and I just found it really poetic.”

— Sam Zubrycki

Part road-trip, part celebration, part deep dive into the intricacies of salsa and the differences between the Puerto Rican and New York salsa, Zubrycki’s debut feature celebrates the musical and cultural depth of the Caribbean.

We quickly learn that once you dig a little deeper into a subject, things aren’t what they appear to be on the surface. Miguelito was wiser than his time. The pathos of his young words is uncomfortably ironic.

The director Sam Zubrycki and record producer Harvey Averne have something in common: intrigue, as well as their ‘love’ for Miguelito. This will be the central piece of the puzzle that not only sparked their initial fascination with a young musician but might just help solve the case of the boy’s sudden and mysterious disappearance.

Listen to Tony Stamp discuss Doc Edge 2020’s music films on RNZ
Read David Boyle’s review on Radio 13 here.

Previous festival selections include:
Antenna Documentary Film Festival, Sydney: Winner, Best Australian Feature Documentary
Oaxaca Film Fest, Mexico: Winner, Best Feature Documentary
Raindance Film Festival, UK


Sam Zubrycki


English, Spanish

Bonus Content

Paula Neme interviews Sam Zubrycki

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