Waiter’s tale of exile revealed

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Many people know him as the larger-than-life waiter who became the front man of El Paso restaurant in Sheffield.

But few people know the circumstances that forced Chilean-born Sergio Contreras to escape to Sheffield more than 40 years ago.

Film director Yannis Kolozis was so inspired by his story that he turned it into a movie, which was awarded Best Documentary at the 2015 Athens International Digital Film Festival, along with a clutch of other awards. Now the film, Un Condor, is about to get its debut in Sheffield.

The feature-length documentary focuses on Sergio’s emotional return to Chile – nearly 40 years after Pinochet’s overthrow of the Allende Government forced him to leave or face imprisonment.

Sergio was 17 when he said goodbye to his family home in Chile and travelled thousands of miles to live in self-imposed exile in Sheffield in 1973.

Un Condor director Yannis Kolozis said: “ Sergio was political from a young age. When the coup d’état took place, he had to enlist and join the army. Witnessing what was going on in Chile, he decided to leave. As a conscientious objector, he faced imprisonment or exile.”

Un Condor also includes interviews with El Paso staff and footage of the restaurant in Cumberland Street.

El Paso’s Nasir Iqbal said: “I’ve known and worked with Sergio for many years and the film made me realise how little I really know about him. It’s fantastic.”

Un Condor will be shown at The Showroom this Sunday at 1.15pm, followed by a 3pm party at El Paso.