- Category: Volume 87 (Fall 2015 - Spring 2016)
- Published: 30 September 2015
- Written by MARK MARRONE | CONTRIBUTING WRITER
On Friday evening, Sept. 25, the documentary Foreign Puzzle was shown at Pollak Theater with its director, Chithra Jeyaram, in attendance.
With a small crowd present, the film carried a strong message that was capable of impacting many.
Foreign Puzzle tells the story of Sharon Marroquin, a choreographer, elementary school teacher, and mother who is battling breast cancer. Filmed over a period of 18 months, the documentary follows Marroquin as she creates an interpretive dance show to express her fight with breast cancer that will be performed in front of a large audience.
Prior to watching this film, I had very little knowledge on what it is actually like to battle breast cancer. I know plenty of people whose lives have been affected by breast cancer, but I never understood what they really went through. After viewing Foreign Puzzle, it made me see the true struggle of living a normal life while fighting such a deadly disease.
Marroquin lives a busy life as it is, yet she still manages to roll with the punches as a single mother who loves her son Dali very much. Dali is in elementary school, and does not have a complete understanding of what his mother is going through. When Marroquin asks her son how he would feel if she died, Dali responds by saying, “I’d be really sad,” as he plays around on the couch. Though Dali cannot quite grasp what his mother struggles through, he understands how much his mother loves him.
In a touching scene, Marroquin is in her son’s bed reading a book to him before he goes to sleep. Once Marroquin concludes the reading, her son quickly falls asleep and she tucks him into bed. Before she leaves the room, she rests her hands on his head and thanks God for all the blessings in her life, including her health.
When Marroquin is not at home with Dali, she is teaching a small fourth grade class and handling the children with poise and control. However, Marroquin’s life outside of the classroom is out of control when she is going through surgeries, chemotherapies, and radiations.
The film follows Marroquin behind hospital doors when she receives treatments, and it is hard to watch at times. At one point, Marroquin needs stomach shots due to blood clots she has experienced and takes one at the hospital. When a nurse injects the shot, Marroquin blacks out for a split second as her face turns pale and her eyes widen. Shortly after, Marroquin wakes and responds to a question, and there was a strong feeling of relief in the theater.
The dancing artistry of Marroquin is beautiful and unbelievable as she pulls off plenty of amazing moves. In one part of her show, Marroquin conducts an aerial dance, climbing up the ropes with incredible strength, and reaches the top of a small roof close to the origami birds that hang from the ceiling. The shaved-headed Marroquin in a bright red dress looks down to her feet and quickly raises her hands up to the heavens, thus ending the sequence.
After Marroquin’s performance is over, she talks to members of the audience and thanks them for coming. However, the audience thanks her in return for putting on an amazing show and giving hope in the fight against breast cancer.
Once the film ended, Jeyaram took questions from the audience. When asked about how difficult it was to film Marroquin’s battle, Jeyaram said it was scary, and that as a director, she did not know her limits on helping out Marroquin in times of need. The director looked after Marroquin’s child in times of emergency, but for the most part she had the difficult task of remaining a spectator.
Jeyaram informed the audience that Marroquin’s tumor is currently benign, and she is still living life to its fullest. The two are still in touch, and Jeyaram refers to Marroquin as a “lifelong friend.”
Foreign Puzzle is an emotional documentary filled with plenty of ups and downs. It carries a strong message of hope, courage and fight. Marroquin inspires others by providing optimism to those who come face to face with death on a daily basis. Though breast cancer has given Marroquin quite a battle, she is far from out.
IMAGE TAKEN from realtalkies.com