Queen of Thursdays
For director Rojas this is a highly personal look at Rosario Suárez, the former prima ballerina of the Ballet Nacional de Cuba, known to her fans as “Cherín.” Due to a rivalry with the company’s longtime founder and director Alicia Alonso, she is rarely permitted to perform on the weekends but is showcased on the ballet’s Thursday programs, earning her the the titular sobriquet “la reina de los jueves.” Ballet lore can be fanciful but the film’s archival sequences and commentary confirm that Suárez was, indeed, an expressive dancer with a dazzling technique and a singular interpretive style. In this film, written and produced by Rojas and Dennis Scholl, her story plays like a grand melodrama: a promising career gets derailed by politics; she is made principal at an age when most ballerinas retire; she is forced to lead the life of an exile. In Miami, her adopted “home,” she faces new challenges to rebuild her life and career. Once again, as the film’s narrator suggests, she is “rolling a rock up the mountain, like Sisyphus.”
Wheel of Life
Marcia Jarmel, Ken Schneider, USA, 2015, 15m
El Oso (“The Bear”) is one of the founders of Casino—the dance that launched salsa. As our guide, he travels through Havana, sharing tales of his youth when the city’s clubs were “white only,” forcing him to dance on the streets. With changing times, a new global history begins. The film spins international relations onto the dance floor.