Another Carmen / Otra Carmen

“Another Carmen” is a documentary by Cuban filmmaker Rolando Almirante, inspired by the new “gay version” version of the classic dance, choreographed by Tania Vergara, head of the Endedans, Contemporary Ballet Company from Camaguey. A bold, provocative and intelligent take on the well-known French novella by Prosper Merimee (which became the basis of Bizet’s opera in 1875) covers the delicate subject of sexual diversity. By assigning the role of the sensual and seductive gypsy Carmen to a young, openly homosexual boy that is alluring other men, the drama explores the complex world of human relationships, love, jealousy, marginalisation, violence and society intolerance.

Yet “Another Carmen” goes beyond a simple “making of” piece. Almirante tries to explore how the dancers, actors and actresses, see the phenomenon that Tania’s ballet illustrates. He wants to see what is behind the thinking of people who embody the characters of “La Carmen”. The revelation of the sincere feelings of young members of the dance company proves that old prejudices still exist today, not only in general in Cuban society, but also among the artistic community. In response to questions raised by Almirante some of them, especially boys, are unable to escape the influence of homophobia and sexism. Casting a man as Carmen, throws into sharp focus the need Cuban society still has to process those issues, to face up to them. Perhaps one of the most important outcomes of the production is that the girls and boys interviewed at last share the understanding that sexual diversity is a fact that must be accepted in any harmonious society.

Both “La Carmen’ by Tania Vergara, and “Another Carmen” by Rolando Almirante promote reflection and debate on the issues of sexual diversity. They are bold and commendable efforts to open up minds trammelled by narrow concepts. They both help eradicate prejudice and myths that stigmatize and diminish people who do not fall into the rigid patterns
historically set for gender roles and sexualities. Fascinating and provocative viewing.

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