Beauties of the Night

Bellas de Noche

María José CuevasMexico91 minutes201614AColourSpanish

A captivating group portrait of iconic showgirls who enthralled thousands during the disco-era heyday of Mexico’s burlesque culture.

The disco-era heyday of Mexico's burlesque culture may have long passed, but many of the sequined stars of those cabarets are still with us. Their stories speak volumes about what it means to be a no-longer-young woman in a career grounded in physical beauty and erotic appeal. Eight years in the making, María José Cuevas' Beauties of the Night is a captivating group portrait of iconic Mexican showgirls, still thriving with grace and style in their ostensible golden years.

Shifting elegantly between eye-popping archival materials and endearingly frank new interviews, Cuevas introduces us to Olga Breeskin, who actually began her performing career playing classical violin with her father; to Lyn May, who, now in her sixties, happily maintains a rigorous daily regimen of exercise and intercourse and extols the virtues of having sex in trees; to Rossy Mendoza, who to this day dances in elaborate headdresses with seductive dexterity; to Princesa Yamal, who speaks of the spiritual strength required to hold a large audience transfixed, but who also had her career stalled when she was wrongly convicted for robbery.

Beauties of the Night presents us a trove of extraordinary women living long and eventful lives, learning to make the most of the inevitable realities of aging in an unforgiving culture. Cuevas presents their fascinating stories with tremendous affection, humour, curiosity, and, above all, dignity.

THOM POWERS

AgingFemale ExperienceLatin AmericaFeminismFashionFemale DirectorDocumentary