The Electro-Nuclear City (ENC) was once part of an ambitious Soviet-Cuban venture to build the first nuclear power station, in Juragua in the Caribbean. But the fall of the Soviet Union brought everything to a complete standstill. Decades later, the ‘project of the century’ has still not been completed, and the enormous dome towers like a totem pole above the dismal blocks of workers’ flats. Carlos Quintela set his second feature film in this fascinating location, where the workers lived at the time of the construction.
The Project of the Century was shot in appropriate black-and-white. Interspersed with beautiful, unique archive material from Cuban television - giving a more rose-tinted, assertive impression of the situation - this adds to the social-realist atmosphere, which gradually makes way for a surreal, at times absurd sense of oppression.
Men from the pest control department arrive to spray an apartment for dengue fever mosquitoes. Three Cuban men live here - son Leo, father Rafael, and grandfather Otto - forced by circumstances to live together. This isn’t easy: Otto is obsessed with his few material possessions; Rafael is unemployed and without any prospect of work since construction of the power station stopped; Leo is back again because his girlfriend broke off with him. On television, they watch the arrival of the Cuban delegation at the Olympic Games in London. The grandfather has a goldfish, Benjamin - the only one who can breathe under water.
Winner Tiger Award 2015