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Next Stop Cuba

Every year, Menorah celebrates the Jewish history and tradition of a particular culture with an event that includes live music, a feast featuring culinary favorites of the region, and a short film with discussion led by Carlos Zarur.

On November 10, “Celebrating the Jews of Cuba” will feature a concert by Charanga Siboney,  a Denver ensemble that plays music of old Havana, a three-course meal, and a screening of “Jubanos.” Click here to register.

In anticipation of  this celebration of Jewish Cuba, Menorah is presenting three Cuban dance classes (October 15, 22 and 29) and a program featuring the music of Cuba on October 21.

Menorah is also collaborating with the Boedecker Theater on a series of films about Cuba, none of which has a Jewish connection but all of which were nominated for Oscars. “Curious About Cuba” runs for three consecutive Wednesday nights, with a final screening on Sunday afternoon. There will be talkbacks by Kathryn Bernheimer and special guests. Tickets may be purchased in advance at www.thedairy.org.

 Strawberry and Chocolate” (1994)
Wednesday, October 10, 7 pm

The first Cuban film to be nominated for an Oscar is a plea for tolerance and an affirmation of human dignity. In this tale touting the primacy of compassion between true comrades, an unlikely friendship blossoms between a cultivated homosexual and a heterosexual communist charged with exposing his anti-revolutionary compatriot.

“Nothing unfolds as we expect. Strawberry and Chocolate is not a movie about the seduction of a body, but about the seduction of a mind. It is more interested in politics than sex — unless you count sexual politics, since to be homosexual in Cuba is to make an anti-authoritarian statement whether you intend it or not.” – Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun Times

 

“Balseros” (2004)
Wednesday, October 17, 7 pm

Nominated for an Oscar for best documentary, this even-handed yet heartbreaking film depicts the plight of Cuban refugees who risked their lives in homemade rafts to reach the United States, and what life is like for those who succeed. Created by Spanish tele-journalists who arrived on the scene in 1994 as tens of thousands of Cubans desperate to escape their country’s moribund economy began to flee, the film follows a group of “rafters” on their perilous 90-mile journey to an unknown fate.

 

 

“Before Night Falls” (2000)
Wednesday, October 24, 7 pm

Javier Bardem was nominated for a best actor Oscar for his portrayal of Cuban poet and novelist, Reinaldo Arenas in Julian Schnabel’s searing biopic, co-starring Johnny Depp. Arenas grew up as a poor, naked illegitimate child, joined Castro’s Cuban revolution and became an intellectual. After discovering his gay sexuality, his work and life become dominated by a mix of temptation, fear, betrayal and man-hunting in both senses. Finally he makes it to Manhattan, only to get caught in another trap for which there is only one tragic escape in the end.

 

“The Buena Vista Social Club” (1999)
Sunday, October 28, 1 pm

Wim Wenders’ Oscar-nominated documentary follows a group of aging Cuban musicians whose once-famous talents had been virtually forgotten following Castro’s takeover. Ry Cooder travelled to Havana in order to bring the musicians together, and Wenders’ acclaimed film account of their triumphant performance not only resurrected the musicians’ careers but also sparked a revival of international interest in traditional Cuban and Latin American music.

About Kathryn Bernheimer

Kathryn Bernheimer
Director of Menorah: Arts, Culture and Education at the Boulder JCC. The former film and theater critic for the Boulder Daily Camera, Kathryn is the author of "The Fifty Greatest Jewish Movies" and "The Fifty Funniest Films of All Time."

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