Noelle Stout's film Luchando poster.A collaborative documentary shot in vérité style, Luchando follows the lives of four Cuban sex workers who each set out to resolve their touching—and at times humorous—predicaments in Havana.

Shot over the course of sixteen months, the film provides an unflinching, first-ever look at a growing community of sex workers trying to make a living in Havana’s homoerotic sex trade.

The story takes place in the last days of Fidel Castro’s Cuba, a post-communist nation torn between the ideals of socialist equality and a rapidly growing division between the rich and the poor. “Luchando” has historically meant the fight for Castro’s socialist revolution, but in an ironic twist it has become hustler slang for the struggle associated with having sex for survival.

Luchando was supported by the Film Study Center at Harvard and produced at the Harvard Sensory Ethnography Lab. It has been honored with numerous awards, including the 2009 Best Documentary Film Director award from the Latin ACE.

(Directed, shot, and co-produced by Noelle Stout, 2008, 55 min)

“Quite extraordinary…startlingly interesting and intimate.”
— Ross McElwee, director Sherman’s March and Bright LeavesLuchando Still by Noelle Stout

“A true cinematographic gem where characters from Fellini and Buñuel come together in a country that has definitively lost its sense of normalcy.”
— Alejando Ríos, Ciclo de Cine Cubano

Selected Press

Learn more about the making of Luchando in New England
Read a feature story on the film in the San Francisco Bay Guardian or a review of the film inLuchando Still by Noelle Stout El Nuevo Herald.

Selected Screenings

Selected Screenings

  • Council on Latin American and Iberian Studies, Yale University
  • Society for Visual Anthropology, American Anthropological Association Annual Meeting
  • Seattle International Lesbian and Gay Film Festival
  • Miami International LGBT Film Festival
  • Society for Cultural Anthropology, Long Beach, California
  • NewFest International LGBT Film Festival
  • Program in Culture and Media, New York University
  • New York HBO/International Latino Film Festival
  • Making It Reel, Santa Fe International Film Festival
  • Boston Latino International Film Festival
  • International Latino Film Festival San Francisco
  • New England Film & Video Festival
  • Austin Gay & Lesbian Film Festival
  • San Francisco Documentary Film Festival
  • Docusur, Spain
  • Harvard Film Archive


Due to an agreement with the Cuban collaborators appearing in the film, Luchando is not available for individual purchase.