Contemporary World Cinema

Santa & Andres

Carlos Lechuga

Santa andres 01

A dissident, homosexual Cuban novelist strikes up an unlikely rapport with the government watcher assigned to keep him from speaking during an upcoming political rally.

It's 1983 in a small village in the east of Cuba. One-time novelist Andres (Eduardo Martínez) looks out his window one morning to see a young country woman approaching his hut, chair in hand. She's prepared to watch over him for the next three days. The revolutionary government has already ostracized Andres, and banned him from writing, for his "ideological problems" and his homosexuality. Now it's decreed that he's to be kept under close scrutiny during an upcoming political event, to ensure that he doesn't declare his dissident views in front of the international press and delegates.

It's an absurd task that revolutionary Santa (Lola Amores) at first embraces, eyeing her charge with earnest suspicion. But their prolonged proximity allows the two to discover that they have a lot more in common than either would have imagined. Both have experienced deep loss, and both know the damaging effects of isolation and oppression. Even so, the cavernous ideological divide separating them — the same one that has separated Cuban friends and kin for over 50 years — has until now seemed insurmountable.

Carlos Lechuga's second feature poses astute questions and their potency is doubly felt in the quiet beauty of the Cuban countryside. How is it possible to hate someone you've never met just because they think differently? Why is it necessary to take a side? Should we define ourselves through ideology? In the rebellious character of Santa, Lechuga offers some humane answers, as well as some hopeful indications as to how we can overcome difference in the name of tolerance.

DIANA SANCHEZ

location_on Scotiabank 5

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location_on Bell Lightbox 4

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location_on Scotiabank 8

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location_on Jackman Hall

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