Film follows life of Cuban drag queens
MIDDLEBURY — Film buffs are in for a rare treat on Tuesday, Nov. 3, at Middlebury College. At 7 p.m., Cuban filmmaker Lázaro González will present his film “Máscaras/Masks” at McCardell Bicentennial Hall 220. Even though travel restrictions to and from Cuba have lightened up in the most recent past, Cuban artists still face substantial red tape to reach this country. Thanks to the efforts of the Americas Media Initiative, González will be able to travel to Middlebury next week and take questions from the audience after the screening. The screening is free and open to the public.
In his first documentary, González documents the lives of two of Cuba’s best-known drag queens, Margot Parapar and Roxana Rojo. He follows them to their respective cities of Havana and Santa Clara as they go through the process of transforming themselves for the stage while discussing their personal evolutions and the fight for equality and respect. Both share insights into the art of drag and its connections to the broader struggle for equality.
While gay Cubans faced active persecution after the Revolution, drag became acceptable because artists have shared positive social messages from the stage: They have told audiences to keep safe when it came to STIs, to avoid drug use, and take care of each other.
Today’s challenges are more mundane (where’s a girl to get decent makeup and false eyelashes in Cuba?) but drag still remains very much an outsider art form — one whose roots lie in the gay community but that has a distinct identity of its own.
Gonzalez was born in Pinar del Rio, Cuba, in 1990. He is a graduate of the Journalism School at the University of Havana. “Masks” received various awards and recognition both in Cuba and throughout Latin America. The filmmaker also works in the Communications Department at the International Film and Television School (EICTV) in San Antonio de los Baños.
The screening is sponsored by the Center for the Comparative Study of Race and Ethnicity; Chellis House — Women’s Resource Center; Department of Spanish and Portuguese; Film and Media Culture Department; Latin American Studies Program; Program in Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies; Queers & Allies; and Queer Studies Academic Interest House.