The District Insider

Film: 'Before Night Falls,' Directed by Julian Schnabel

Published on Sep 02, 2014 by NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale NSU

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“Before Night Falls,” directed by Julian Schnabel, is the story of the writer, novelist, and poet Reinaldo Arenas, who was born in a poor rural area of Eastern Cuba. He initially supported the Cuban Revolution that brought Fidel Castro to power in 1959. Arenas moved to La Habana in 1963 and grew interested in writing. In 1966, he published “El mundo alucinante” (“Hallucinations”), which received critical acclaim and won honorable mention from the Union of Cuban Writers and Artists. Arenas’ openly gay lifestyle eventually led to trouble, and in 1973 he was charged with ideological deviation and sent to jail, but escaped, was rearrested, then imprisoned in El Morro. He was released in 1976, and in 1980 was part of the Mariel Boat lift to the United States. While in New York City, Arenas published “Cantando en el pozo” (“Singing From the Well”) in 1982, followed by “El palacio de la blanquísimas mofetas” (“Palace of White Skunks”) in 1982, and “El porter” (“The Doorman”) in 1987. He committed suicide by overdose on Dec. 7, 1990 at age 47. His memoir, “Antes que anochezca” (“Before Night Falls”) was published three years later, and is a principal source of this film, produced in 2000. Arenas is played by the Spanish actor Javier Bardem, whose performance and Cuban accent are absolutely perfect. Rated R, 133 minutes. Free with museum admission. Free for members and NSU students and faculty. Please RSVP to or or (954) 262-0227.

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