secundariaNew to DVD this week: SECUNDARIA

Mary Jane Doherty’s portrait of students at Cuba’s National Ballet School made its bow at IFF Boston in 2013. Other screenings have included the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s Dance on Camera, Cartagena, Milwaukee, Havana, Newburyport Doc, and San Francisco Dance film fest.

Over nearly two dozen trips in the course of three years, Doherty traces the development of three young dancers, who began the prestigious school’s program in 2007: outgoing Gabriela, who comes from a relatively privileged background; shy Maryara, who, in contrast, is raised by a poor single mother; and Moisés, even poorer, and of African descent, making his road the hardest – though his story surprisingly doesn’t pop. Instead, after offering a quiet but unremarkable view of the school, its teachers, and the likeable enough but subdued subjects for a chunk of its initial running time, circumstances end up ultimately turning the film’s focus on Maryara, who takes the opportunity of being outside of Cuba while on an international tour to unexpectedly defect to America. This incident offers Doherty a surprising climax to an otherwise fine but unremarkable portrait, allowing the film to subtly explore some of the underlying tensions of life, culture, and politics in the island’s communist setting.

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Filed under Documentary, Film, Releases

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