THE TWO CUBAS (Carolina Valencia, Canada). 45 minutes. Subtitled. May 27, noon. ROM. Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
In her unpretentious documentary, director Carolina Valencia focuses her video camera on two gay friends living in Cuba, Jose Rodriguez , a professional dancer, and Jose Luis , a tourism worker. Rodriguez has toured the world with various dance companies, but he's happy to live in Havana. Luis has never left the country and is hoping to visit a friend in Germany. Whether he'll leave the country for good is unclear. If he does, Rodriguez will have lost one more friend.
Valencia, filming behind the back of Cuban authorities, opens up a fascinating world (lesbians are virtually invisible), where there are no gay bars and it's recently become illegal to dress as a transvestite. The film is structured around Luis's visa application. We're there before his interview, and wait for a week before he finds out whether he's been accepted.
A touch of sentimentality mars the film's final third, but this is a powerful document about freedom, friendship and home, things many jaded North American queers take for granted.