Before Night Falls inspires protests in London

BY Advocate.com Editors

May 08 2001 12:00 AM ET

A gala charity screening of Before Night Falls, based on the autobiography of gay Cuban author Reinaldo Arenas, was picketed at the London Human Rights Watch film festival, according to The [London] Guardian. There are further plans to stage protests when the film goes into wide release throughout the United Kingdom next month. Both opponents and supporters of the Fidel Castro government, as well as gay activists, were involved in the picketing. Steve Williamson of the Cuba Solidarity Campaign claims the portrait of Castro in the film is simplistic and that “the real story is much more complicated.” Williamson, who is an expert on the writings of Arenas, points out that “Arenas was an amazing person and a great magical realist. His life was fantastic in every way. He undoubtedly suffered because of what happened during that period in Cuba, which was wrong; but if you elevate what he wrote and what the film presents as an actual record of events, you are falsifying history.” He further states that “Cuba...is by far the most progressive country in Latin America as regards gay rights.... Cubans have come to terms with gay issues in an unprecedented way.” Amnesty International apparently agrees that Cuba has quite a good record on gay rights. The film’s director, Julian Schnabel, says, “I didn’t mean to make a political film, but I guess I did.”

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