Margot is a fabulous dresser who belts out tunes, interviews herself on TV, and dispenses safe-sex advice. Roxana is a Russian ex-patriot who is married to a Cuban fisherman and has a penchant for singing Russian songs while wearing opulent gowns.
In the macho world of Cuban culture, Margot Parapar and Roxana Rojo stand out-they are two of the country's best-known drag queens.
In his debut film, MASKS, Cuban filmmaker Lázaro J. González González takes an anthropological approach to documenting Margot and Roxana. We watch Ríubel Alarcón and Pedro Manuel González, in their respective cities of Havana and Santa Clara, as they go through the process of transforming themselves for the stage while discussing their personal evolutions, the fight for equality and respect and the trials and dangers that lie ahead.
Both share insights into the art of drag and its connections to the broader struggle for equality.
In an era in which gay Cubans faced active persecution-Ríubel sometimes had to leap over fences to get away from the police-drag became acceptable by sharing positive social messages from the stage: telling people to keep safe when it came to STDs, to avoid drug use, and take care of each other.
Today's challenges are more mundane (where's a girl to get decent makeup and false eyelashes in Cuba?) but drag still remains very much an outsider form-one whose roots lie in the gay community but with a distinct identity of its own.
"A new documentary about 'transformismo' in Cuba as an art form and an expression of resistance. —El Toque
"The film's young director is able to show the cultural significance and value of 'transformismo' as an artistic phenomenon involving theater, music, dance and performance." —Hermanos Saiz Association