Strawberry and Chocolate (Fresa y chocolate, Cuba-Mexico-Spain-USA, 1994)

Gay v straight in Cuba

This is Tomás Gutiérrez Alea‘s penultimate film (co-directed with Juan Carlos Tabío); he’s famous for Memories of Underdevelopment (Cuba, 1968). Strawberry and Chocolate focuses on the relationship between the gay Diego and straight, and staunch ‘communist’, David who’s initially spying on him. It’s a marvellously engaging drama, primarily because of Jorge Perugorría‘s superb performance as the vivacious and vulnerable Diego. It traces how David’s initial hostility dissipates as he gets to know Diego: prejudice is always blind.

It’s a shame that films that have the message ‘gay people are no different’ have to be made but it’s good that they are when required. I don’t know how controversial this would have been in Cuba but the film’s accessiblity earned it a ‘best foreign language’ Oscar nomination.

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