Studio: Mr Bongo Records
Length: 110 mins
Released: 23 February 2009
Cat No: MRBDVD013
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Strawberry and Chocolate
The first film from Cuba with a gay perspective and critical of the Castro regime. This is a heart-warming story about solidarity between... Read More
The first Cuban film to be nominated for an Oscar, Tomás Gutiérrez Alea and Juan Carlos Tabío's Strawberries and Chocolate is a warm, witty story of friendship filmed against the chaos and colour of Havana.
David (Vladimir Cruz), an idealistic student, lets his earnestness get the better of him when he takes his fiancee to a shabby hotel. She tearfully demurs, but to her shock he agrees to postpone their union til their wedding night. The next thing we know, she's married another man and David is drowning his sorrows in dairy at Coppelia, Havana's famous ice-cream park.
He is soon joined by Diego (Jorge Perrugoria), who spies a potential opening. Diego is older, handsome, and far from demure; he's also eating strawberry ice-cream, which instantly arouses David's suspicions, as chocolate - the preferred choice - was also available. But Diego defies Cuban convention in more ways than one: a flamboyant and outspoken gay artist, his apartment is a clutter where photos of Marilyn Monroe join religious iconography.
Diego's comically unsuccessful seduction of David's body leads into a longer and more substantial meeting of minds, and the film defies our expectations of the genre by leaving both men unconverted.
Given Cuba's tardy attempts to reform official attitudes towards homosexuality, it is surprising to find a home-grown film which tackles the issue with such candour - especially one made as early as 1994 by the founder of Cuba's national film unit.
Ultimately, Strawberries and Chocolate is a celebration of difference, and the relationship between the incorruptible David and the unconventional Diego mirrors the Castro regime's slow acceptance of the fact that dissent need not be unpatriotic.