HAVANA TIMES, Dec. 8 — Perhaps it was the topic that attracted people to the Yara Cinema; or maybe it was the little that had been mentioned about the film in question. In any case, on Monday morning, December 5, cinema lovers were surprised with the premiere of Cubano: Boleto al paraiso (Cuban: Ticket to Paradise), by Gerardo Chijona.
This is a sad and provocative movie that invites reflection.
In it, the character Eunice is leading a miserable life. Tired of her father’s sexual advances, she flees from home. In her flight she runs into three youths who, locked in the routine of their country town, also decided to escape. The new friends and the trip to Havana will influence the spiritual growth of each of them. Together they will discover new sensations, emotions and — especially — they’ll be forced to take on the responsibility of deciding their own fates, which is probably the most interesting point in the movie.
Chijona has us accustomed to comedies, and though he makes constant winks at laughter, the movie is a statement about the despondency of an epoch: the 1990s. It tells about those turbulent years of economic shortages and the loss of feelings, years in which youth felt themselves in an endless tunnel but without anything solid to cling to.
Some listened to rock, like the main characters in the movie, but the feelings of loneliness and emptiness went beyond musical tastes.
The longing for a path cleared by themselves and the desire to be free of the weight of social acceptance leads many to despair; and when innocence combines with despair, these characters find romantic and passionate solutions.
This is why the youth in this film prefer to contract AIDS than to continue with the routines that daily existence offers but that they refuse to accept. Or maybe they look at the illness like a knot that ties them together forever, possibly beyond life or death.
What’s certain is that though the film is based on the diary of a doctor (presented in the idyllic image of the kind, concerned professional working at the institution of one’s dreams where everyone would like to go), the physician is working directly with patients at the Los Cocos sanitorium. However, the plot goes further, since this is not a movie about AIDS, as it had been publicized.
With good performances, fresh dialogues (but with the omission of Maria’s Patio, an emblematic refuge and gathering place for rockers and youth during the “Special Period” crisis), and a bit of forced melodrama, the film ended with the audience’s applause. The public saw in the characters people in the flesh, naive (sometimes too much so) and prone to make errors or save themselves like most other human beings.