In 1994, Tomás Gutiérrez Alea’s Fresa y Chocolate (1993) swept the awards at Brazil’s Gramado Film Festival. Founded in 1973, the festival was not only a platform for art-house films; Gramado had functioned as a space of creative freedom and resistance to censorship during the worst years of Brazil’s military regime (1964–85). Fresa y Chocolate was highly anticipated; it foregrounded a cluster of sensitive issues such as homosexuality, freedom of speech, and censorship, in a Cuba immersed in the so-called Special Period. This article examines the debates provoked by Fresa in Brazil, which had recently emerged from a long authoritarian regime and was confronting the implementation of neoliberal policies. Through Alea’s film, Brazilian critics and journalists discussed the themes advanced by “the Cuban case,” which struck a chord and ignited debate with the local public.

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