Gay Issues in Cinema

Irina Pino

From the movie Land of Storm.

HAVANA TIMES — I’ve seen a number of films dealing with gay issues recently (a friend who buys the weekly “package” makes copies of these for me). These kinds of films (particularly those with sex scenes) are barely shown on Cuban television.

We did get to see Brokeback Mountain, shown on the Cuban TV show La septima puerta, not only presented us with two gay cowboys – it exposed us to a love story that unfolded before grandiose landscapes, in the wild, which sublimated and strengthened the passion of the main characters.

I confess it made a deep impression in me and struck me as very beautiful. The film proved controversial. I saw it with my son, who was in primary school at the time. I answered all of his questions with arguments suited to someone his age. Today, I am glad to see he has not become a homophobe.

There are very few places in Havana where one can see these kinds of films. In this connection, there’s no need to have critics talk to us about them. Intelligent spectators will always ask themselves questions and draw their own, individual conclusions.

Many people are shocked by scenes showing sex between people of the same gender, they never get used to them. Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodovar’s daring films broke stereotypes and managed to get audiences to accept this kind of cinema. Love and sex must be governed by people’s desires – they cannot be reduced to a face or sexual organ. They must be treated as something invaluable. Schools could offer courses so that children aren’t shocked by these things and learn to co-exist with that’s “different.”

Of the films I watched recently, three caught my attention: the first (“Two Mothers”) dealt with two lesbians who want to adopt a child. In Germany, a developed society that is supposedly devoid of prejudice, this is against the law, so the two women decide to undergo artificial insemination on their own. Then begins the search for the biological father, and the love between the two recedes to the background.

The Duke of Burgundi presents us with a game between master and servant, a kind of story about sexual domination and seduction, where on partner takes control and the other submits to their whims. The film is replete with oppressive atmospheres and abandoned gardens, set in a home shrouded in mystery. The cinematography, sound design and silences work to heighten the film’s dramatic tension. The scenes recall a theatrical mise en scene. The erotic prevails over explicit sex.

In Land of Storm, a young soccer player who lives in Germany inherits a house in a town in Hungary, his native country. A friendship with a local becomes an amorous relationship. Following the unexpected visit from a teammate, a classic love triangle develops. The local, however, chooses the first of the two. For some time, the young men have a passionate romance. The mockery the two are subjected to by homophobic townspeople leads the Hungarian to commit a violent crime.

These stories could well describe relationships between people with habits considered “normal.” These films focus on a homosexual world that has been marginalized because of prejudice and lack of acceptance.

Film is perhaps the ideal medium to expose people to these kinds of stories and to help society’s black sheep to cease being so in the future.

Irina Pino

Irina Pino: I was born in the middle of shortages in those sixties that marked so many patterns in the world. Although I currently live in Miramar, I miss the city center with its cinemas and theaters, and the bohemian atmosphere of Old Havana, where I often go. Writing is the essential thing in my life, be it poetry, fiction or articles, a communion of ideas that identifies me. With my family and my friends, I get my share of happiness.

One thought on “Gay Issues in Cinema

  • i know this, your capsule reviews have given 2, of 3, movies to track down and watch, duke and storm. two mothers sounds like it might be a name shifted “the kids are alright” or a pretty direct copy of it, and i have already seen that.

    the recent shift in US cuban relations saddens me in one respect, i left florida after spending 2 years in the part that thinks rick scott is just fine and sheriffs have the right to shoot on sight. previously i had lived for many years, starting from back in the late 60s when the middle class, and some wealthy, fled castro, and became intimately acquainted with the cuban exile community. the longing for, and love of, their home country, cuba, was transmitted to me in full. i now live in hawaii (see the theme in my life choices) which means i will not be able to make a trip i most surely would have, only a few years ago. i wish all cubans nothing but the best, and the country itself a prosperous future WITHOUT becoming a playground solely for the rich and fabulous.

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