Monday July 24, 2017

Remembering Alina

A brief look at the career of beloved Cuban actress Alina Rodríguez (1951-2015)

Alina Rodríguez

Courtesy EFE

Celebrated Cuban actress Alina Rodríguez died on July 27, at age 63, of pancreatic cancer. One of the most distinguished stars of Cuban stage and screen, she was beloved for her versatile talent and her nobility of spirit. The Cuban press has been filled with homages and remembrances. Alina Rodríguez was born October 4, 1951, in Havana, and graduated from the Instituto Superior de Arte (ISA). She went on to create memorable roles in theater, television, and cinema in Cuba. Her final role as the stern but loving teacher, Carmela, in the movie Conducta (Ernesto Daranas, 2014), earned her international renown and multiple awards.

Alina in the role of Justa in Tierra Brava

Courtesy CiberCuba

But Cubans knew and loved her long before that, from her stage and television appearances. She was the proper housekeeper Justa, in the long-running telenovela Tierra Brava, set in pre-Revolution Cuba; and she incarnated the title role of the voluptuous prostitute Maria Antonia in the 1990 film by Sergio Giral. On stage she starred in the comedy Contigo pan y cibolla, by Hector Quintero, and recreated the role of Lala Fundora—the 1950s housewife trying to keep up appearances—in the film version, directed by Juan Carlos Cremata and released in 2014. In addition to starring roles, Alina—like many Cuban actors—also appeared in smaller parts: she was a bag lady in an earlier film by Cremata, Chamaco (2011), and played the nurse, Sandra, in Vestido de novia (Marilyn Solaya, 2014).

Alina and Enrique Molina in Contigo Pan y Cibolla (2014), directed by Juan Carlos Cremata

Courtesy Cubarte

Alina was quoted as saying that she had no preferences for a particular character, she just wanted to do good work: “I have nothing specific that I want, no character, but I am interested in roles that say something, that have something interesting to say, that make people reflect, and that move people, whether it’s a good character or a good script, something that doesn’t always happen, that doesn’t always touch us.”

Actor Enrique Molina, her friend and frequent co-star, stated that we won’t encounter another actress like Alina, with the ability to enter fully into a role, who never tried to stand out, and with a level of Cuban authenticity impossible to equal.

The following video homage (in Spanish), by CiberCuba, includes brief excerpts from some of Alina’s most famous roles:

Conducta (Behavior) official trailer (subtitled), courtesy Toronto International Film Festival

Complete episodes of Tierra Brava, in Spanish, can be found on YouTube. Here is Chapter 1:

Nadine Covert is a specialist in visual arts media with a focus on documentaries. She was for many years the Executive Director of the Educational Film Library Association (EFLA) and Director of its American Film Festival, then the major documentary competition in the U.S. She later became director of the Program for Art on Film, a joint venture of the J. Paul Getty Trust and The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Covert has served on the board of the Robert Flaherty Film Seminar, and is currently a consultant to the Montreal International Festival of Films on Art (FIFA).