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Film Screening: "Before Night Falls" and "Basquiat" by Julian Schnabel

This event is expired.

Film Screening of "Basquiat" at the Legion of Honor museum

John A. and Cynthia Fry Gunn Theater

Before Night Falls, 10 am

The film Before Night Falls is based on the life of Reinaldo Arenas, exiled Cuban novelist and poet. It contrasts his early years, a childhood of absolute poverty yet absolute freedom, with the horrors and difficulties he encounters as a writer and gay man censored and persecuted in Castro’s Cuba and then as an exile in New York.

At 14, Reinaldo Arenas was swept up and educated by the revolution. At 20, he had his first novel published, Celestino Antes del Alba (Singing from the Well), and won a National Book Award. It is the only book he ever published in his own country. His eight other novels, short stories and poems were all published internationally and banned in Cuba. His second novel, El Mundo Alucinante (Hallucinations), was censored and smuggled to France where it won a National Book Award for Best Foreign Novel in 1969. Arenas was one of the only Cuban writers living in Cuba to publish a book outside of Cuba without the permission of the revolutionary government. He immediately became a fugitive at home.

In 1973, he was arrested, his work confiscated and he was taken to El Morro prison. He survived there for two years by writing letters to the wives and lovers of the other prisoners.

In May of 1980, Castro allowed anyone who was homosexual, mentally ill, or had a prison record to leave Cuba. Arenas was one of 250,000 Cubans to leave in the Mariel Harbor boatlift. He did not find paradise in the United States. In fact, maybe the kind of freedom he was looking for doesn’t exist anywhere.

The film spans Reinaldo’s life including both his hopes and ultimate disillusionment with the Cuban Revolution. Reinaldo Arenas died in New York City in 1990. Three years later, his memoir, Before Night Falls, was listed as one of the 10 best books of 1993 by the New York Times Book Review. His manuscripts are kept in the archives at Princeton University.

(2000, 133 min)

Basquiat, 2 pm

Renowned for his paintings, Julian Schnabel is also a celebrated auteur of cinema.

In 1996, he wrote and directed Basquiat about fellow New York artist Jean-Michel Basquiat. The film is a lightly fictionalized account of Basquiat's rise to the dizzying heights of the New York art world. The feature-length film was an official selection of the 1996 Venice Film Festival. Join us for a special screening of this star-studded movie.

(1996, 108 min)

Ticket Information

This program is free after museum general admission. 


Contact Information

Public Programs
publicprograms@famsf.org
(415) 750-7694