Before Night Falls (film)

Before Night Falls
Before Night Falls poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byJulian Schnabel
Produced byJon Kilik
Screenplay by
  • Lázaro Gómez Carriles
  • Cunningham O'Keefe
  • Julian Schnabel
Based on
Music byCarter Burwell
  • Xavier Pérez Grobet
  • Guillermo Rosas
Edited byMichael Berenbaum
Grandview Pictures[1]
Distributed byFine Line Features[1]
Release date
  • September 3, 2000 (2000-09-03) (VIFF)
  • September 14, 2000 (2000-09-14) (TIFF)
  • December 22, 2000 (2000-12-22) (United States)
Running time
133 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States[1]
Budget$20 million[2]
Box office$8.5 million[3]

Before Night Falls is a 2000 American biographical romantic drama directed by Julian Schnabel. The film is based on both the autobiography of the same name by Reinaldo Arenas—published in English in 1993[4]—as well as Jana Boková's 1990 documentary Havana.

The screenplay was co-written by Schnabel, Lázaro Gómez Carriles and Cunningham O'Keefe. The film stars Javier Bardem (who was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor), Johnny Depp, Olivier Martinez, Andrea Di Stefano, Santiago Magill and Michael Wincott. The film had its world premiere at the 2000 Venice International Film Festival.[1]


In the film, Arenas is born in Oriente in 1943 and raised by his single mother and her parents, who soon move the entire family to Holguín. After moving to Havana in the sixties to continue his studies, Reinaldo begins to explore his ambitions, as well as his sexuality. After receiving an honorary mention in a writing contest, Arenas is offered the chance to publish his first work. Through his work and friendships with other openly gay men (such as Pepe Malas and Tomas Diego), Arenas manages to find himself.

The political climate in Cuba becomes increasingly dangerous, and in the early seventies Arenas is arrested for allegedly sexually assaulting minors, and for publishing abroad without official consent. In the next decade, he is in and out of prison, attempting and failing to leave the country several times.

In 1980, Arenas finally leaves Cuba for the US, starting a new life with his close friend Lazaro Gomez Carriles. A few years later, Arenas is diagnosed with AIDS, and after spending several years suffering he dies in 1990.

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