Young Cuban Women Skaterboarders Defy Gravity And Machismo
14ymedio, Zunilda Mata, Havna, 28 March 2017 — A pirouette and life is
turned upside down. Another and the wheels crash against the pavement
leaving a mark in their path. Cuban women skaters defy gravity and
machismo, two forces trying to make them fall. Their dreams are told in
the documentary Sisters on Wheels by director Amberly Alene Ellis,
currently in the United States.
The film looks at the phenomenon of skateboarders told from the
experience of young Cuban women who practice a sport marked by
prejudice. Not only must they deal with the animosity still provoked in
some observers, but also with putting themselves in "a territory of men."
The protagonists of Sisters on Wheels display the technical difficulties
of practicing this discipline in Cuba, with few resources and places to
skate for training. The young women talk about their struggle to have
skateboarding recognized as a sport, far beyond an entertaining pastime.
The Amigo Skate project has helped alleviate the material hardships of
some of these young women. The initiative asks, from its on-line site,
for people to bring or send skateboarding equipment to the island, and
facilitates events linked to the sport, in additional to concerts and
the painting of murals.
Cuban-American René Lecour is part of the solidarity project and the
director of Sisters on Wheels came to the reality
of skateboarding through him. In a country where very few skateboards
have been marketed and there are barely enough spare parts to fix a
broken table, the practice becomes complicated. However, new
technologies help, with videos and tutorials that teach spinning and
Ellis, who traveled to the island initially to film material about women
filmmakers, was attracted by the "innovation" she saw in these urban
athletes and knew first hand about a similar phenomenon in her own
country when "skateboarding pioneers, in the '80s, made their own boards
with what they could find."
"Without intending to, we moved from filmmaking to skating," recalls the
director, who believes skating becomes an act of protest for these young
people in a nation where the government regulates every centimeter of
reality, especially the sports scene.
The documentary, which began filming in 2015, uses skateboarding as a
way to approach the national reality and in particular the changes that
occurred after the thaw between the Governments of Cuba and the United
In the practice of skateboarding, the filmmaker sees a gesture of
independence that "is seeking free expression"
Source: Young Cuban Women Skaterboarders Defy Gravity And Machismo –
Translating Cuba -