Director Carlos Lechuga’s masterful unspooling of time in his second feature film “Santa y Ándres” constructs a uniquely Cuban mix of tedium and despair, resulting in an emotionally intense experience that sneaks up on the viewer in plain sight.
The film opens with the stillness of a landscape painting: the eastern Cuban countryside of 1983 – rugged, lush, and verdant. The statuesque Santa (Lola Amores) is almost non-descript as she lugs a bulky wooden chair purposefully down a dusty road. A panoramic wide shot pins her to the foreground of a vast barren landscape, giving the impression of stillness even as she walks. Santa arrives at the run-down shack where writer Ándres (Eduardo Martínez ) lives in isolation. She declares herself a representative of the Communist party, assigned to “accompany” Ándres while a political forum takes place in town. She will be his watchdog for the next three days, ensuring that the writer has no contact with the international press.
In a film essentially about a prisoner and his jailer, one can assume some sort of meaningful interaction between the two. It’s to the director (who also wrote and produced the film) and the actors’ credit that “Santa y Ándres” manages to avoid this scenarios’ more obvious tropes. The movie, for example, upends the idea of secrecy and truth. Whereas Ándres, an ostracized, gay writer, might be readily bestowed as the bearer of the film’s gravitas, simple, farm worker Santa is no less intriguing because of the labyrinthine tale of personal tragedy that snakes beneath her obdurate persona.
Actors Eduardo Martínez and Lola Amores are an exceptionally matched duo (the two won the Best Performance Award at the Miami International Film Festival), each specializing in a form of quiet intensity that compliments the other’s performance. Amores’ chiseled bronze face is defensive and distrustful. As a friendship grows with Ándres, she reveals flashes of a childlike silliness. Her vulnerability and personal pain are all the more impactful because they are revealed in quick glances.
Martínez’s soulful brown eyes always seem to be begging for mercy where none exists. Ándres’ is one of the last men standing in a generation of talented writers such as Reynaldo Arenas and Rene Ariza, who fled Cuba’s oppression. Having already been beaten, jailed, subjected to electroshock treatments, and ostracized for being gay and a writer, Ándres’ descent into further humiliation and alienation is all the more painful to witness. One devastating scene, an act of repudiation, is scaled down to its bare bones. A steady camera held mercilessly close to the aggression reveal Lechuga’s talent for restraint and release.
“Santa y Ándres” has the unfortunate distinction of having been censored on both sides of the Florida Straits. Although shown at the Miami Film Festival, the film was removed from the awards competition at the Havana Film Festival New York, likely due to pressure from the Cuban government. It was also censored in Cuba where it was not included in the Festival of New Latin American Cinema. According to the Miami Herald, Roberto Smith, the current director of the ICAIC (The Cuban Institute of Cinematographic Art and Industry), claims the film presents a distorted image of the Cuban Revolution.
But films like “Santa y Ándres” transcend rhetoric and offer a communal opportunity to witness past wounds and confront present-day denial.
“Santa y Ándres” opens Friday, April 28 at the Tower Theater, 1508 S.W. 8th St., Little Havana. Info and show times, towertheatermiami.com, 305-237-2463.
Dimensions Dance Theatre of Miami has been on a trajectory best described as meteoric. In its first 18 months DDTM has been a 2017 Knight Challenge Grant recipient and now will debut at New Y..
Amirah Sackett came up as a dancer in Chicago’s hip hop scene at a time when women were rare in the mostly male community. But she also visibly stood out as a Muslim. She keeps her hair cover..
Inside the Little Haiti Cultural Complex, where Dance Now! Miami is in residence, there is a hub of activity as the company prepares for its performance on Saturday night of Contemporanea 201..
One of the signatures of the National Water Dance project since its inception seven years ago was that dance troupes, large or small, professional or school groups, were free to perform whate..
Miami City Ballet is in league with Russians – in a good way -- and this promises to make a selection of dances look great again. The company’s final program this season brings back Apollo an..
Hidden behind a busy street in North Miami Beach is the Ancient Spanish Monastery, where Dance Now! Miami will bring the past into the present – and back into the past. Ekphrasis describes th..
Sometimes dance seems as easy as walking down the street. John Heginbotham, founder and artistic director of Dance Heginbotham, describes his dancers as moving in an unaffected, natural manne..
On the heels of a year-plus parade of #MeToo confessions, celebrity shamings and women’s marches, comes Marisa Alma Nick’s female-power-packed “A Rebel in Venus.” “It wasn’t planned that ..
Choreographers are usually curious people. Augusto Soledade’s curiosity leads him in many directions, including ideas on Madonna, voguing, and selfies. It all began with “thoughts on identity..
M. John Richard has never hung back from the challenges that shape a life. Not when a knee injury ended his dreams of playing football at Syracuse University. Not when he was persuad..
For many choreographers, a new project is an opportunity to dig into fresh ideas. But for local choreographer Pioneer Winter, his latest work “Reprise” returns to the same terrain he has been..
There are few shortcuts for anyone hoping to make it in ballet, but for black dancers that road has always been particularly arduous. A lack of access to training, scant rewards, and cultura..
For sheer pageantry, there are few dance companies that can rival the Ballet Nacional de España. In its 40th season, with 40 dancers and 11 musicians, Spain’s effusive, no-holds-barred love l..
When the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater returns to town this week, Miami native son Jamar Roberts will take center stage. As one of the company’s star dancers, he has long shined as a performer. B..
He says his dance comes from his dreams. French-Algerian choreographer Hervé Koubi’s most recent work, “What the Day Owes the Night” combines Sufi rhythms with cutting edge b-boy moves, class..
A world premiere always comes with a drum roll. And, throughout the years, Miami City Ballet has brought to light its fair share of resounding new works. Still, Brian Brooks’ freshly-minted O..
Wednesday night at the Arsht Center’s Knight Concert Hall the South Florida Symphony Orchestra in collaboration with the Martha Graham Dance company presented “Appalachian Spring Suite” and “The R..
Cooking may be Dan Froot’s favorite thing. This is saying a lot since Froot is also a composer, a dancer, a sax-player, a play-wright, an oral-historian -- an all-around performance artist an..
With the closing of Tigertail Productions last year, Miami lost one of its preeminent artistic champions. Under the direction of founder Mary Luft, Tigertail brought an endless parade of boundary-..
Anytime would be a good time to devote a dance program to the works of Jerome Robbins, our most versatile and celebrated American-born choreographer. But, given that 2018 marks the centennial..
Due to winter storms in the Northeast impacting travel, with great regrets the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company announced the cancellation of the Saturday, Jan. 6 performance. At age..
It is fitting at this time of the year that our thoughts often turn to what connects us not what divides us. Whether we are driven by religious or secular motives, many of us are in the spiri..
The end of the 19th century was a golden age for ballet. In 15 years of collaboration, two great Russian geniuses – choreographer Marius Petipa, and composer Pyotr Tchaikovsky – produced ballet st..
Here’s a riddle – name the 1892 box office flop panned by critics for lack of seriousness and for casting too many kids, which has now transformed into a force of nature timed to occur yearly..
It happens every year, right around Thanksgiving, productions of the Nutcracker pop up from coast to coast, marking the start of the holiday season. But on Saturday, Miami audiences have the ..
As Art Week approaches, Miami choreographer Marissa Alma Nick’s Alma Dance Theater is getting ready to add its distinctive voice, rehearsing for the upcoming performance of “Flowers” at the C..
Promising a night of airiness and ardor, Dimensions Dance Theatre of Miami will bring “Ballet’s Pointe of Passion” to the South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center, where the company joins an att..
Ira Sullivan has been a musician for a long time. His father, part of a large musical family, was in the restaurant business. But he played trumpet for fun and stored his horn behind the couch, Su..
The music of Thelonious Monk has been a source of endless fascination and with good reason. Monk’s universe has its own laws. Beautifully constructed and quirky, soulful but also paced by br..
The first time the Amernet performed “The Seven Last Words of Christ” during Holy Week – the week leading up to Easter -- the string quartet played in darkness. Just hours before, cellist Jas..
Drummer Dafnis Prieto and pianist Omar Sosa closed this year’s Global Cuba Fest at the Light Box in Wynwood, Miami, with shows on Friday and Saturday, March 16-17 that suggested a sort of mus..
Mention flamenco and the immediate associations are with dancing, singing and the guitar. The piano has a rather tentative history in flamenco. While some scholars include the instrument in p..
The ancient Japanese art of Taiko drumming comes to Miami this Friday, with Tao: Drum Heart, which premiered at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and has gone on to tour internationally, getting ..
It’s not by chance that the music of Cuban drummer, composer, educator and bandleader Dafnis Prieto unfolds with such purpose. An accidental immigrant in 1999 — he was living with ..
In the music of Las Cafeteras and Orkesta Mendoza, presented by Fundarte at the South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center Saturday, the border is no place for walls but rather, a moveable feast. ..
Performance Hall at New World Center was packed Saturday, Feb. 3 for the New Work program, which NWS conductor and artistic director Michael Tilson Thomas introduced as “one of the more adve..
"Nosotros sentimos, y pensamos que Jennifer y Carlos sienten igual, que Miami finalmente ha llegado a posicionarse como una verdadera ciudad cultural donde continuamente se presentan compañías imp..
El grupo de danza contemporánea Brazzdance dirigido por su fundador, el coreógrafo Augusto Soledade, se presentó el sábado 31 de marzo en el Carnival Studio Theatre del Arsht Center de Miami...
La undécima edición del Flamenco Festival que se desarrolló del jueves 8 al domingo 11 de marzo en el Arsht Center resultó ser un hermoso reencuentro con el Ballet Nacional de España (BNE), u..
Arts Ballet Theatre of Florida (ABTF) y su escuela de ballet adjunta, ambas bajo la dirección de Vladimir Issaev, se encuentran por estos días entregadas de lleno a la celebración del bicente..
El lugar privilegiado que ocupa Miami hoy en día en el mundo de la danza no tiene discusión. Además de contar con una vibrante oferta local de proyección internacional que dura todo el año y ..
Después de una serie de actuaciones muy exitosas en varias ciudades del Este del país, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater (AAADT) llega a Miami para ofrecer seis presentaciones del jueves 22 ..
La ofensiva espontánea protagonizada por BalletBoyz y Cie. Herve Koubi el fin de semana pasado en teatros de Fort Laudedarle y Miami, con dos propuestas artísticas absolutamente fuera de seri..
La atracción principal del tercer programa de la temporada 2017-2018 del Miami City Ballet (MCB) que se presentó el fin de semana pasado en el Arsht Center fue el estreno mundial de One Line ..
Llegados en vuelo directo desde Inglaterra, BalletBoyz (Premio Nacional de Danza 2013 a la Mejor Compañía Independiente) ofrecerá el sábado 10 de febrero una función patrocinada por Culture Shock ..