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Ana and the Very Cuban Art of Faking It

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"Nobody does anything for free any more," says a character in a comedy we enjoyed on our movie listings earlier this year. Directed by Daniel Diaz Torres, La Película de Ana (Ana's Film) was chosen as the best feature film in 2012 by the Cuban Association of Cinema Press. However, beyond the institutional awards and other awards that it will surely receive, for now it has received the invaluable audience award from a public that has welcomed it with abundant smiles and applause. In the title role, Laura de la Uz portrays the life of an actress lurching between one mediocre role and another, between bad adventures for teenagers and worse soap operas for housewives. Spurred on by material problems, and especially by an urge to buy a refrigerator, she decides to pass herself off as a prostitute for a documentary being produced by some Austrians. What could have been one more role, a sequence of stereotypes and exaggerations, becomes Ana's best performance.

Like a game of mirrors, the film superimposes reality and falsehood, the emotional and the histrionic. Not even the humor and jocular speeches manage to seriously detract from the drama that unfolds like a survival tool. It gets complicated for Ana, as she puts herself fully in a world she thinks she knows, but that overwhelms her and drags her down. She poses her family without their knowing it; films her neighbors to shore up the improvised script, and lies, lies, lies. She herself becomes the director of a film with innumerable planes that want to meet the expectations of the foreign producers. However, to the commonplace is added the hardness of her life, no make-up, no need to over-dramatize it.

La Película de Ana causes us a female, national, human, shame. Embarrassment at all those who see us posing as others. The man who smokes a cigar -- even though he doesn't like it -- so the tourists will take his photo and pay him for it. The official whose mask of ideological simulation has now merged with his own face. And also those who feed the simulation, because they themselves have lost the capacity to distinguish which part of the story was invented, and which not. Like an Ana who, although she takes off her make-up and turns off the camera, she will continue acting and pretending.