The Murray State Cinema International season continues with El techo, or On the Roof, a 2017 Cuban film directed by Patricia Ramos. Program director, Dr. Thérèse St. Paul, speaks with Tracy Ross about the lighthearted romantic comedy's upcoming screenings.
" "Offering a much welcome look at contemporary Cuba" (Manuel Betancourt, Remezcla), On the Roof is a deliciously off-beat romantic comedy that "offers an impeccable balance of colloquial charm and universal appeal," with highly relatable characters with varying degrees of ambition, ingenuity, and quirk. The rooftop terrace as a place of limited freedom could be a symbol for some of the problems facing Contemporary youth."
El Techo, or On the Roof, follows "a group of friends whose lives seem to be limited to a rooftop in Havana," St. Paul begins. "In many ways, this is like a microcosm of a neighborhood. It could be like Cuba itself for young people, where there doesn't seem to be a lot of work opportunities. These young people are trying to figure out all sorts of things: themselves, who they are, what they're going to do with their lives in that kind of limited opportunity environment. That is real."
St. Paul hopes members of the local community who have lived in or been to Cuba will come to this screening to offer a "balanced pro and contra for Cuba because I think people tend to demonize Cuba," she explains. "In many ways, there are other things that Cuba has really successfully done. They don't go into that, but [the film] shows that there's no abject poverty in Cuba like you can find in other parts of Latin America, or horrible discrimination between the have and have-nots like you find in Guatemala. We had a [Cinema International screening] several years ago...looking at the lives of native Indians who live up in coffee-growing areas and are exploited. This is not happening in Cuba."
The most pressing issue of Cuban youth presented in On the Roof is a lack of opportunity. "There's been an embargo in Cuba. As a result, people cannot travel like they want. They cannot trade as they want. So their concept of business is limited. All that happens in the movie when the kids are trying to find out what they're going to do. It's a trial and error of young people growing up in Cuba with different perspectives, different dreams -- it's very endearing."
"I think [the film]...is universal," St. Paul continues. "What is facing young people all over the world is the same thing. You've got to find who you are; you want to find your roots. You want to get going, earn some money, find the right partner. You want to be happy. You want to have dreams of a possible future."
On the Roof will be presented in the Curris Center Theater on the third floor of the Curris Center this Thursday, September 17th, and Saturday, September 19th, at 7:30 p.m. These limited capacity, socially distanced screenings are free and open to the public. For more information on Murray State's Cinema International program, visit the Murray State website.