The other face of the moon: beyond the gay caricature
In Cuba, the soaps are a whole socio-cultural institution. On nights when they broadcast the Brazilian, Mexican or Cuban versions, half the country is frozen in front of their TVs. Foreign soaps are usually alternated with home-grown ones that are usually much less popular. If the setting is historical, there are never enough resources invested, and if the setting is contemporary, the public reproach the directors for only reflecting a sanitized and idealised Cuban daily reality.
The other face of the moon is a different kettle of fish. There are five stories with HIV or AIDS as the common thread that address key moral issues in current Cuban society with no preconceptions: jineterismo, adolescent sex, conjugal infidelity... and male homosexuality treated as it has not been since Tomás Gutiérrez Alea and Juan Carlos Tabío’s film Strawberry and Chocolate.
Yassel (Felo Lahera), a construction worker, is happily married to Belkis (Luisa María Jiménez), an attractive architect. They live with their daughter in a magnificent house that his parents have given him. One day a lawyer, Mario, walks under Yassel’s work and some rubble falls on him, cutting his arm. Mario is played by the masterly Armando Tomey, who redeems himself for his wooden performance years ago in soap, Sol de Batey.
The virile builder, feeling guilty for the accident, starts to visit the wounded man to help him cope with one hand… despite the warnings from his workmates that Mario is ‘a bit of a fairy’. At first he feels uncomfortable; homophobic prejudices are very strong. But, apart from being gay, Mario is a cultured, friendly, amusing person… a human being whose sexual preferences do not turn him into a perverted monster. And Yassel finds himself unexpectedly attracted to a member of the same sex until one night the inevitable happens...
+ information pág. 158-159 The H Book 2007 08