'A QUIETLY RIVETING FILM'
FILM SOCIETY OF LINCOLN CENTER
'A CANDID COMPELLING PORTRAIT'
NEW YORK TIMES
'THE TERROR AND HEARTBREAK THAT ACCOMPANY A RIGH-RISK, LIFE ALTERING DECISION' HUFFINGTON POST
TY BURR TOP FILM CRITIC
Wonderful. You have such an eye for the arresting image; I could tell within the first minute that I was in the hands of a natural filmmaker.
ABELARDO MORELL PHOTOGRAPHER
Secundaria is a remarkable film. Seemingly about dance, and it's a wonderful visual homage to that subject; it deeply captures how students, entwined in a strange dance with a regime that is less than free manage to find a freedom of a sort. The film is also about the kind of ambition young artists are able to maintain when so much is still in question. Like Yeats' line "how can we know the dancer from the dance?" This film asks further: How can we know the dancer from society?
GERALD PEARY FILM CRITIC & CURATOR
A superb documentary observation of Cuba’s National Ballet School, subtly filmed and shaped from 21 trips to Havana. Doing both camera and sound, Doherty shows us exquisite dance up close, on a stunning visceral level, but also tells the extraordinary story of a ballet school which allows its students the chance to escape from poverty and, for the young and brave, the daring possibility to prance away from Cuba.
THORSTEN TRIMPOP FILMMAKER
SECUNDARIA shows people in a gentle and respectful closeness that never loses it‘s earnest distance. It‘s really astonishing to follow the story that develops by it‘s own pace to the final emotional events. I love all the details that your wide awake camera eye captures. Your film shows Cuba from an unexpected angle that I‘d never seen before and is of course so much more about the culture and life itself then about ballet.
ROSS McELWEE FILMMAKER
Stunning. What struck me about your film, aside from how terrific the shooting was throughout, was the immense sympathy you have for your young subjects. You're quite clear-eyed, of course, and you don't sentimentalize, but you are sympathetic, and convey that sympathy to us.
CHARLES WARREN FILM PROFESSOR
It's very beautiful - Your shooting and editing just seem so intuitively engaged - the dance becomes film in what seems like a very natural way, and there's a transcendence about it.
The social realities, these kids' backgrounds, the peculiarities of Cuba, all are made quite plain in the film, and yet the dedication to art and the excitement and fulfillment of it are felt very strongly - it seems, because YOU feel it, as the dancers and teachers do.
RICARDO ACOSTA FILMMAKER
(A) beautiful story filmed over many years with little girls that transform into powerful Dancers, your perseverance and a masterpiece of Cinema Verité.
It's also a story of resilience and "Duende" - those very important component of any good Artist's gift. I cried so much with joy and sadness- there are so many moments of beauty- complex beauty in your film!
BESTOR CRAM DIRECTOR, NORTHERN LIGHT PRODS
I was stunned that I could continue to look at legs and toes for 90 minutes and feel I was always seeing anew.
It is so nice to see a film that begs you to watch, not just to see voices illustrated. You did it beautifully with a pace that encourages one to understand that in watching cinema comes the experience of becoming aware of your own sense of self.
SECUNDARIA quietly follows one high school class on its journey through Cuba’s world-famous National Ballet School. Our teenage dancers love to dance but many of them must dance as their sole way out of poverty.
At least, that’s how the movie begins. In their third year, Mayara, the shyest but also the most accomplished dancer, takes charge of her destiny with a sudden, unprecedented act of courage.
Between 2007 and 2011 I traveled solo 21 times to Havana gathering footage for two films about children growing up in the world-famous Cuban Ballet System.
My premise: Shoot only scenes that could not be translated into words. Ramona De Saa Bella, (AKA Cherie) Director of the National Ballet School, said, "Well, what else would you do? You're making a movie after all."
In the case of SECUNDARIA I followed one high-school class from auditions to graduation, focussing on Mayara, Moisés and Gabriella from day one - which is why the events that happen in SECUNDARIA are so startling.