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BEFORE NIGHT FALLS
USA: Fine Line Features
UK: Twentieth Century Fox
Cast: Javier Bardem, Johnny Depp, Sean Penn, Olivier Martinez, Andrea Di Stefano, Michael Wincott, Najwa Nimri, Hector Babenco, Olatz Lopez Garmendia, Vito Maria Schnabel, Jerzy Skolimowski, Maurice Compte, Sebastian Silva, Pedro Armendariz Jr
Director: Julian Schnabel
USA: 125 mins
UK: 133 mins
USA Rated: R for strong sexual content, some language and brief violence
UK Certificate: 15 contains some strong threat and moderate sexual references. To obtain this category cuts of 18 seconds were required. The cuts were Compulsory. The cut required was due to sight of real animal cruelty (live bird caught in noose) and in accordance with the terms of the Cinematograph Films (Animals) Act 1937
USA Release Date: 22 December 2000 (Limited Release - Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco)
UK Release Date: 15 June 2001
Winner of the Grand Jury Prize at the 2000 Venice Film Festival, BEFORE NIGHT FALLS is a richly imagined joumey into the life and writings of the brilliant Cuban author and exile Reinaldo Arenas. Directed and co-written by Julian Schnabel (BASQUIAT) the film stars Spanish actor Javier Bardem (LIVE FLESH, JAMON, JAMON) whose eloquent, complex performance as Arenas earned him the 2000 Venice Film Festival's Volpi Cup for Best Actor.
BEFORE NIGHT FALLS spans the whole of Reinaldo Arenas' life. He was born on July 16, 1943 to a beautiful young woman (Olatz Lopez Garmendia) who was soon abandoned by Reinaldo's father. Consigning herself to a life of bitter chastity in this machismo society, Reinaldo's mother returned with him to her parents' farm in Cuba's Oriente province.
The movie follows his life from his rural childhood and his early embrace of the Revolution to the persecution he would later experience as a writer and homosexual in Castro's Cuba; from his departure from Cuba in the Mariel Harbor exodus of 1980 to his exile and death in the United States. By the time of his death in 1990, Reinaldo had written over 20 books, including 10 novels as well as numerous short stories, poems, essays and plays.
It is a portrait of a man whose search for freedom - artistic, political, sexual - defied poverty, censorship, persecution, exile and death. Like Arenas' work, BEFORE NIGHT FALLS combines passages of transporting imagination with urgent realism; in so doing, it embodies the creative ethos to which Arenas dedicated himself transforming experience into unfettered expression.