Before Night Falls (2000). A poignant adaptation of Reinaldo Arenas’s autobiography, in which the persecuted Cuban novelist recounts his life in Cuba and in exile in the United States. Says film critic Lucas Hilderbrand, “It’s an intoxicating, intensely erotic account of sexual discovery and liberation, and a devastating record of the artist’s persecution under the Castro regime.”
Buena Vista Social Club (1999). An adorable documentary look at the reemergence from obscurity of veteran performers Ruben González, Omara Portuondo, Ibrahim Ferrer, Eliades Ochoa, and Compay Segundo culminating in their sellout concert at Carnegie Hall.
Death of a Bureaucrat (1966). Tomás Gutiérrez Alea’s questioning portrait of the absurdities of the Cuban bureaucratic system and people’s propensity to conform to absurd Kremlin-style directives that cause misery to others.
El Cuerno de Abundancia (2008). The “Horn of Plenty” is Juan Carlos Tabio’s tale of how a million dollar inheritance upsets an entire town in Cuba’s interior.
Fresa y Chocolate (1994). Legendary Cuban director Tomás Gutiérrez Alea’s famous skit (“Strawberry and Chocolate”) about the evolving friendship between a gay man and an ardent revolutionary is a classic comedic drama. David, the young Communist, is selected by Diego as a potential target for seduction. The tale that unfolds in derelict Havana is an indictment of the treatment of homosexuals in Cuba.
Guantanamera (1997). A road movie with a twist, this rueful romantic comedy by Tomás Gutiérrez Alea and Juan Carlos Tabio begins to unfold after an elderly dame dies from an excess of sexual stimulation. The farce of returning her body to Havana  for proper burial provides the vehicle for a cutting yet comic parody of an overly bureaucratic contemporary Cuba.
Los Diosas Rotas (2008). An enthralling, beautifully filmed tale of pimps and prostitutes in contemporary Havana. Nominated for a 2008 Oscar as Best Foreign Film.
Memories of Underdevelopment (1968). Director Tomás Gutiérrez Alea’s sensual, wide-ranging masterpiece revolves around an erotically charged, intellectual “playboy” existence in early 1960s Cuba, pinned by the tragedy of the central character’s alienation from the “underdeveloped” people around him and his own inability to attain a more fulfilled state.
Miel para Ochún (2003). Humberto Solas’s “Honey for Oshún” tells the tale of a Cuban-American who, aided by a taxi driver, embarks on a wild road trip through Cuba to search for the mother he thought had abandoned him as a child.
Paradise Under the Stars (1999). Set around a star-struck woman’s dream of singing at the Tropicana nightclub , this buoyantly witty comedy combines exuberant musical numbers, bedroom farce, and some satiric jabs at Cuban machismo.
¡Soy Cuba! (1964). Filmed by Russian director Mikhail Kalatozov, “I Am Cuba” is a brilliant, melodramatic, agitprop black-and-white, anti-American epic to Communist kitsch that exposes the poverty, oppression, and decadence of Batista’s Havana .
Suite Habana (2003). The hit of the 25th Havana Film Festival , this silent documentary by Fernando Pérez records a simple day in the life of 10 ordinary Cubans in Havana.