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Queer|Art|Film: Luna Luis Ortiz presents BEFORE NIGHT FALLS


2000. USA. 133 min. Directed by Julian Schnabel. 35mm. 

Julian Schnabel’s riveting adaptation of Reinaldo Arenas’ memoir follows the gay Cuban poet and novelist (portrayed by Javier Bardem) from childhood to death. Stops along the way include copious amounts of sexual exploration, fighting with Castro’s rebels, and an escape from prison (with a cameo assist from Johnny Depp in drag). His struggles continue when he arrives in NYC at the dawn of the AIDS crisis. For our guest presenter, photographer Luna Luis Ortiz, Arenas’ life story echoes his own experiences as “being gay, an artist, Latino and living with HIV." Ortiz’ photos are currently featured in the exhibition AIDS at Home at the Museum of the City of New York.

As always, our screening will be followed by drinks and discussion at Julius Bar (159 West 10th St. at Waverly), the oldest gay bar in New York City!


Luna Luis Ortiz is a Latinx artist/activist and a mighty force who has been empowering QTPOC youth in New York City for over thirty years. His provocative photography, portraits of friends and peers, shows young queer individuals of color through a vibrant, sensual, and vulnerable lens. In his self-portraits Luna is radiant and revelatory with his emotions within very intimate settings. Luna's poignant photographs and compelling story have been featured in The New York Times, The London Observer, and The Advocate, among others, and he has spoken about his HIV experience at NYU, Cornell University, Yale University, etc. In 2015 he was awarded the William Orlander VAVA Voom Award by Visual AIDS and has been recognized by the City of New York and various New York City Mayors on numerous occasions.


"I was invited by a friend to see a film called Before Night Falls without a clue of what the film was about, and when I was sitting there in the dark watching this film I was surprised at the content and the visuals of the film. Part of the film echoed my own personal life from being gay, an artist, Latino, and living with HIV. The film was haunting and visually had beautiful images that moved me as I watched. Javier Bardem as the Latino novelist Reinaldo Arenas was an extraordinary performance and watching Johnny Depp in drag was an added piece of the celluloid fantasy of the reality of Arenas. After watching the film I ended up buying most of Arenas books because I was emotionally moved by a man I did not know anything about."