Marilyn Solaya: An Influential Filmmaker

Sara Spritzer

The Cuban Film En El Cuerpo Equivocado or In the Wrong Body will debut at the Kenworthy Theater on Wednesday, Oct. 9 at 7 p.m. The film focuses on the first person to undergo gender reassignment surgery in Cuba, Mavi Susel. Susel underwent the surgery in 1988, and the film address issues of femininity in the patriarchal society of Cuba.

The film is directed by Cuban filmmaker, writer and actress Marilyn Solaya. She concentrates her passions into feminist issues and with a feminist perspective. Solaya acts as an inspiration to many women in Cuba, because she encourages other women to pursue their dreams – just like she did when she became a filmmaker.

A photo of Marilyn Solaya
A photo of Marilyn Solaya

In Cuba, the culture surrounding femininity and the macho is one that’s hard to fight. The cycle is one that is hard to be broken. Women are expected to stay at home and do the housework. They cook, they clean, they take care of the children, they sew, etc. But over the last few years, women in Cuba have really been making strides against the patriarchy. Some laws have been changed, and women make up a good percentage of those in the workforce – not great, but good. Women are trying to get more power by playing roles in the government, but women still make up a very small percent of governmental officials. So the fight continues.

LGBTA rights are part of the fight for gender equality in Cuba. The beliefs that the LGTBA community has to fight are very traditional and hard to change – but their rights have been continually increasing as time goes on. In the 1960’s the fight reached its peak – many members of the LGBTQ community just moved away to Miami or other US cities from Cuba. But the negativity surrounding the community quickly evaporated after the revolution. It’s not to say that there is 100 percent tolerance of the LGBTQ community, but it has improved dramatically.

En El Cuerpo Equivocado and other movies that focus on the LGBTQ community play an important role in the movement of tolerance. They allow people to understand the struggles and significance of being accepting and inclusive of people in the LGBTQ community. It puts those who are comfortable talking about their past experiences in the spotlight and really answer basic questions people may have. Movies and documentaries that feature LGBTQ people are a great way for people to learn about the community in a positive way. It’s important for people to continue to make these films and break norms across the globe, because it’s an easy way for people to be educated about these issues. Who doesn’t love a good film?

Marilyn Solaya is an influential woman of our time. She has the confidence and ability to really make changes in the basic structure of a culture that is almost impossible to break. I only hope to see more of her films being brought to the US, so maybe tolerance and inclusivity here can increase.

Solaya is presenting her film across the US throughout the month of October, which is LGBTQA history month.

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