Live Ideas: Julian Schnabel’s Before Night Falls

Julian Schnabel (Basquiat & The Diving Bell and the Butterfly) directed the incredible journey through the life and work of the late Cuban novelist Reinaldo Arenas. As a teenager Arenas marched to Havana with Fidel Castro and was educated by the revolution, but when his books were not a hymn to the revolution they were censored and he was jailed for his sexuality.

Arenas endured unspeakable persecution in a courageous stand against censorship and oppression. Without a country but not without integrity, he lived as an exile in North America where he continued to fight for personal expression and produced a stirring body of work.

This film is a tribute to the liberating power of art and one man’s undying passion for life. Before Night Falls won both the Grand Jury Prize and the Coppa Volpi for Best Actor for Javier Bardem at the 2000 Venice Film Festival. That same year, Bardem was the first Spanish actor ever to be nominated for an Academy Award for his brilliant portrayal of Reinaldo Arenas. 

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The screening will be followed by a short conversation between Schnabel and Laurie Anderson, who, together with Lou Reed, co-wrote/co-composed one of the songs for the film.