Transilvania 2017 – review – HORIZONS (“Horizontes,” Eileen Hofer, 2015, Switzerland / Cuba)

Horizons posterHorizons is a documentary by Swiss director Eileen Hofer depicting three generations of Cuban ballerinas; each of the ballerinas represents either the past, the present, of the future. The film is enriched by its fascinating location, Cuba in the midst of great social and political changes in the post-Castro era, and by the presence of Alicia Alonso, the legendary Prima Ballerina Assoluta, as one of its protagonists.

Now 95, Alonso is still able to tell her own story through her own words and inspire new generations of ballerinas in her many countries across Cuba. Her story is also told in Horizons through beautiful and priceless archive footage. The story itself illuminates one of the main themes of the documentary: knowing your limitations and overcoming them. Alonso, for instance, had to overcome a strange blindness in order to solidify her legacy as one of the greatest ballet dancers of all time.

While Alonso’s story is inspiring and the most interesting of the three, the film would have felt incomplete without Viengsay Valdes, the prima ballerina at the beginning of her international career, and 12-year-old Amanda, who trains 12 hours a day to eventually become a prima ballerina herself. This is because overcoming your limitations requires hard work; Viengsay and Amanda are able to represent this hard work through their blood, sweat, and tears. It is they who add a physical dimension to the film that Hofer and cinematographer Gregory Bindschedler appear to take delight in; it is their movements and their physicality that informs the visual style, movement and stylistic prowess of Horizons. – ★★★★

HORIZONTES | 2015, Switzerland / Cuba | Documentary | Directed by – Eileen Hofer / Produced by – Catherine Muller, Aline Schmid / Written by – Eileen Hofer / Music by – Ladislav Agabekov, Julien Painot / Cinematography – Gregory Bindschedler / Edited by – Damian Plandolit, Valentin Rotelli | 67 mins.

 

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