Havana Film Festival: Talking about Film Synopses

Yanelys Nuñez Leyva

From the film “Sand Dollars”.

HAVANA TIMES — If you take the synopses of certain films seriously, you can end up with an entirely false picture of these movies.

This has happened to me on more than one occasion, and one’s sense of smell tends to improve with these experiences.

I hope that, by sharing one of my most recent of such experiences, I will inspire you to reflect on the matter.

The film in question is titled Dolares de Arena (“Sand Dollars”). Directed by Israel Cardenas and Laura Guzman, the title should have prompted some reservations. As is always the case, I paid no attention to that.

I had heard the film mentioned and praised during a Telesur broadcast.

Then, I took a look at the plot outline published in the periodical of the 36th Havana Film Festival currently being held in the city and made up my mind: I had to see the film, starring Geraldine Chaplin, daughter of the great comedic genius, remembered for his portrayal of the enigmatic Charlot.

The writer of the said plot outline tells us:

“Noeli, a 20-year-old Dominican woman, has a relationship with Anne, a much older foreign woman. Though neither regards the relationship as a form of prostitution, it in fact represents one of the few employment options available to young people in an economy based on many forms of exploitation.”

I have no problems with the beginning and end of the synopsis. The crux of the matter is the middle, where it claims that their relationship is in no way based on monetary interests.

From the very beginning of the film, one is exposed to the intentions of the far-from-innocent young woman and the ways in which her seventy-something partner repays her favors.

There are no metaphors and no subtlety in the matter, everything is clearly laid out for us with more or less sweetness – things are clear between the two.

That, at least, is how I perceived things.

At any rate, the movie stays at the surface of what could well have been an interesting issue to explore.

The bad guys, or, better, those who are destined to act in treacherous ways are the Caribbean’s poor black people, and those who are the victims of such actions are the good foreigners who lead cold, boring lives in their own countries, and only find “true” human warmth in these corners of the planet, albeit at a price.

The film relies on hackenyed cliches and tries to inspire pity for the withered old woman who feels unrequited love and rapidly sinks into her loneliness, exacerbated by the weight of years.

Those who write about anything should pay attention to what they write, particularly when it creates certain expectations in others.


Yanelys Nuñez

Yanelys Nuñez Leyva: Writing is to expose oneself, undress before the inquisitive eyes of all. I like to write, not because I have developed a real fondness for nudity, but because I love composing words, thinking of stories, phrases that touch, images that provoke different feelings. Here I have a place to talk about art, life, me. In the end, feeling good about what you do is what matters; either with or without clothing.

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