Cuban Transgender feature film won most popular award at the Havana Film Festival

The event was the perfect stage for releasing the film, which won the Our America First Copy Postproduction Prize in the 35th Festival. It rapidly connected with the public who filled the movie theaters for ten days, so much so that they granted it the Popularity Award. It also received a mention in the First Work category.

With a changing country as the setting, the feature film tells the story of Rosa Elena (Laura de la Uz) and Ernesto (Luis Alberto García), a nurse and the boss of a major construction project. From the outside, they seem to be a typical middle-class family except for Rosa Elena's big secret, which prevents her from being herself. Only with her close friend Sissi (Isabel Santos) does she feel free to remember the sex reassignment surgery she had years ago. When the truth comes out, Ernesto's world begins to teeter, while Rosa Elena makes a decision that will change the course of her life.

Inspired by her documentary 'En el cuerpo equivocado', about the experiences of the first transgender person in Cuba, Marilyn stresses that Vestido de novia is a film containing a commitment and a denunciation against all forms of violence – against women, children, elders and men – "because some men also feel discriminated for being sensitive."

"We also criticize society, not only Cubans. It's something we have inherited and we have to get rid of it. Vestido de novia is pretty much true-to-life, because the year 1994 was a difficult year, and that is reflected in the film. I wanted to convey that even though our world was coming to an end – the world many people know – there were people going through other kinds of crises," the filmmaker explained.

"I was very lucky to have these great actors working with me," she said about the cast which, in addition to Isabel, Laura and Luis Alberto, also involved National Theater Prize laureate Pancho García, Jorge Perugorría, Manuel Porto, Omar Franco, and Mario Guerra.

Commenting on his role, Luis Alberto said: "It was very difficult for me to play Ernesto. In my life I'm against discrimination based on sexual preference, for whatever reason. I found it difficult to portray that ‘macho' man, but I thought: if I can contribute a grain of sand to convey the message, I'll do it."

According to actress Laura, her character needed to portray an ordinary woman, "because that's what these women want, to be like the rest. Ironically, they begin forming part of that stereotype in which women carry the burden of the household chores and care about the wellbeing of everyone but themselves."

"Marilyn stresses the kindness, the affection she had to show all the time. Seeing that other face of society has changed us; knowing these brave women, many of them trapped in bodies they don't recognize. The time has come to break with those differences and see who we have next to us, really see them. It we could help achieve this with the film, we would feel privileged."

For Isabel, the world premiere at the Chaplin movie theater has been one of the most emotive moments of her career: "I was very afraid at the beginning," said this actress, one of the best known faces of Cuban film, and who hadn't appeared on the national screen for four years.

"It's a lovely character; it's not every day that there appears a role like Sissi. I think it was the same for everyone; I know it was for Luis Alberto. I was very nervous as the film was being shown, and when the audience burst into applauses, I knew it. I have never felt such emotion since the film Clandestinos (1985) was shown."

Original article here