A Paradise Under the Stars

Institute History


Through his documentaries and first feature, Adorable Lies (1991), Gerardo Chijona has become a prominent member of the new wave of Cuban filmmakers who use a light, yet sharp, touch to comment on politics, social agendas, and racism. A Paradise under the Stars is so quietly layered that one could simply enjoy the flamboyant musical numbers or sexy bedroom farce and leave the theater happy. Indeed, the satire goes down smoothly: Chortle at the buffoonery of the national guard; the machismo of the Cuban Man, whose clan is represented by a large birthmark on the buttocks; the offspring of a supposedly incestuous relationship, feared as the creature, but actually a lovely, dark-skinned infant. The film is also a tribute to the famed Tropicana nightclub, an emblem of twentieth-century Havana. The nightclub opened as the Beau Site in 1939 and one year later became the Tropicana. By the late 1940s, it expanded both its architecture and stage productions. The 1950s saw appearances by such luminaries as Nat King Cole and Xavier Cugat, and international tourists proclaimed the place to be one of the hottest nightspots in the world. With the revolution in 1959, gambling was forbidden, yet the performances continued. The late 1970s saw a rebirth, and in the 1990s, the shows remain popular. In this film, Chijona’s characters inhabit this club: Some want to leave, others are dying to get in. It is here they lose their identity, tangle with love, triumph over evil, and reveal truth. The Tropicana is both reality and the essence of a romantic past. -

— Andrea Alsberg

Screening Details

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