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
?ew 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 ?he 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? 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, reveal
truth. The Tropicana is both reality and the essence
of a romantic past. ?Andrea Alsberg

Screening Details

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