The formerly luxurious Hotel Nueva Isla on Havana’s iconic malecón (esplanade) was converted into a shelter for people living on the fringes of society by the Castro-led government in the 1960s. Now, it is a dilapidated ruin, with parts of the ceiling falling down and damp eroding the walls. Nevertheless, the building is still inhabited – by the aged Jorge, his faithful dog and a handful of others who find themselves homeless.
In this tenderly observed documentary we watch as Jorge spends his days poking around and digging through rubble as he looks for items of value to sell. His companions include Vivian, a middle-aged woman (with whom he has a relationship); her young daughter whom he is teaching to read and write; and Waldo, a neighbour. For Jorge it appears that nothing changes. But one by one the inhabitants of Hotel Nueva Isla start to leave for a newly constructed building.
Gentle and reflective, this is a masterpiece of observational documentary filmmaking and a timely reflection on Cuba today.