Zenaida

This short documentary presents the public with Zenaida Gómez Jiménez’s direct point of view. From a literal perspective, the whole film shows the audience the protagonist’s eyes, her actual “points of view”. The figurative perspective appears when, through her dialogue, we are shown her views on the world and the way her mind works.

 

Beginning with an evermore present reference to the 45th President of the United States, Zenaida talks about the difference between the American and Cuban cultures and how both societies deal with the problem of racism. She begins by harshly criticizing the US government and its police force for their inexplicable lack of effort and action in the fight against racism. On the other hand, she seems to believe that Cuba’s racism problem is almost non-existent, which appears to be a very debatable point in Cuban sociology.

 

Not to play the devil’s advocate here but, what she perceives as a “high position job” a – working in a store – is only a working-class profession, whereas the US has ever had an African-American President, which she mentions in passing. Admitting that she herself is racist may come as a shock to some viewers, when – with no hesitation – she says “I don’t want anything to do with the whites”. However, we soon learn that her views are not set in stone and that she’s even had an Italian boyfriend.

 

Her experience spans over two of the most tumultuous centuries in human history and gives the viewer a much-needed introduction into the mind of a self-proclaimed Fidelist. However, the fact that she believes that the former Cuban president did nothing wrong is a clear indicator of political bias when you choose a side and stick with it, come hell or high water. Of course, Fidel Castro had many policies to fight against racism and to help poor people through programs of literacy and economic aid, but he also suppressed critics and jailed people with a different sexual orientation than what was – and probably still is – considered “the norm”. Returning to the comparison of the Cuban and the American culture, Zenaida muses that were she to have been cast in a Hollywood film she would have been paid more than appearing in this eponymous documentary.

 

Focusing more on the symbolic nature of the documentary, it is quite encouraging to see this fresh way of presenting the subject. By only showing the viewer Zenaida’s eyes, the director is hiding her face, her physical identity. However, it is said that the eye is the window to the soul, so it could be argued that the audience learns more about her in this way. Furthermore, all throughout the short film, we hear her perspectives on life and history, and that seems to be an even more important part of who the protagonist is as a person.

 

Her faded blue eyes are often times in focus, but sometimes the image goes blurry, possibly in sync with Zenaida’s more “misguided” points of view. It is a great technique of the director to underline such important aspects through such a subtle and clever artifice. One might think that the audience could get bored of listening to a Cuban woman talk for 20 minutes, but that does not seem to be the case, as she hypnotizes people with both her stare and her words.

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