HAVANA TIMES, Feb 22 — The Cine Club Diferente has spent almost four years promoting films committed to diversity, and on February 14 it released for the first time in Cuba the movie Verde Verde (Green Green), the latest film by Enrique Pineda Barnet.
In the line of people entering the 23rd y 12 St. Cinema, some of them said they didn’t like the film (it had been previously passed around surreptitiously from flash drive to flash drive).
Once it began, an about 45-year-old man couldn’t finish watching it. He walked out ranting, “It’s grotesque. It’s disgusting!” Yet a gay viewer there at the movie insisted, “But it’s based on real life.”
I don’t believe we can look at either opinion as being wrong. The problem is that “real life” is unpleasant, which is why we invent so many falsehoods to disguise it.
Nevertheless director Pineda Barnet doesn’t believe in falsehoods or disguises, and therefore Verde Verde has triggered an explosion of comments – some more off-colored, others more convinced of the need to tackle the issue of homophobia and male violence.
Hatred, frustration, rejection of differences, love, sex, violence – all of these elements are in the film. But what stands out is fear.
“Fear – look how fear screws people up. They’re paralyzed with fear,” reflected Alfredo, one of the characters. With this statement, he encapsulates the plot.
It’s fear of the unknown that causes his rejection and repudiation. It’s the fear of being recognized by someone else, of being despised, humiliated and persecuted.
It’s a fear that prevents people from enjoying life due to their own stereotypical creations. The other character, Carlos, says, “I’m not afraid of nothing,” and with those words he reaffirms his deep fear of life.
But what Carlos repeats most is “I’m a man, I’m a man.” He repeats this ad nauseam after going inside Alfredo’s house, where they play with words, dance together and ultimately have sex.
Carlos, choked with guilt, fears that his friends will find out. Therefore, he makes a drastic decision.
After the showing of the film, as is customary in the Cine Club, there was a discussion. Surprisingly, everyone’s view was favorable, despite those comments in the street that have a different hue.
For the filmmaker, Tomas Piard, “It’s the most honest film ever made during the revolution. It’s the most revolutionary, the most courageous… The film is about freedom.”
Another person thought of it this way: “It’s a story of passion, of what might have been a love story if life weren’t so marked by prejudice.” They added, “It’s a necessary film.”
A 16-year-old girl named Lauren described how Alfredo defends his right not to be discriminated against because what’s important is “beyond your liking men or women, it’s about being a good person and doing good things in life.”
Mariela Castro, the director of Cuba’s Center for Sexual Education, acknowledged that it’s a work of art in every way, while emphasizing the effectiveness of the movie’s use of symbols.
“It’s an old story carried forward into today’s reality, with a problem that’s made more complex by its being hidden.” Mariela drew attention to violence against gays saying, “It’ not a local problem, it’s a global problem”, and went on to stress that these cases in Cuba are not considered hate crimes, but merely crimes of passion.
Among other opinions, one person thought the film reflected gender violence of one male against another and against themselves, and the control they must show to be seen as a man in the eyes of society.
Analyzing the form more than the content, there were those who spoke about how the film is renovating the character of the language of Cuban cinema. They also highlighted the importance of the photographic work of Rocio Garcia, which almost achieves the status of another character in the film.
Since this is about the Cine Club Diferente, what was still needed was a differing opinion. One like those that are heard out in the streets – someone talking about how the story is forced, how the characters are based on stereotypes (the intelligent, sweet, loving gay and how Carlos’ transition from “macho” is so predictable) or that the dialogue lacks credibility and the character of the seductress was atrocious.
If that had happened, the director would have fulfilled the vow he made before starting the shooting of the film, when he said, “We’re going to put ourselves under the light.”