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La obra del siglo (2015)

In an abandoned nuclear project conceived by Cuba and the USSR, a disillusioned engineer survives with his mean father and his frustrated son, while 1970s found footage of the "project of the century" describe its ambitious scope.


Carlos Quintela


Abel Arcos Soto (as Abel Arcos), Carlos Quintela

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7 wins & 4 nominations. See more awards »


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Credited cast:
Mario Balmaseda Mario Balmaseda ... Otto
Mario Guerra Mario Guerra ... Rafael
Leonardo Gascón Leonardo Gascón ... Leo
Jorge Molina Jorge Molina ... The Fumigator
Manuel Porto Manuel Porto ... The Neighbor
Damarys Gutiérrez Damarys Gutiérrez ... Marta
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Reinier González Reinier González ... Sports Narrator (voice)
Natalia Nikolaevna Natalia Nikolaevna ... The Soprano
Osmel Portilla Osmel Portilla ... Picapiedra
Margite Rodriguezowa Margite Rodriguezowa ... The Russian Professor


In an abandoned nuclear project conceived by Cuba and the USSR, a disillusioned engineer survives with his mean father and his frustrated son, while 1970s found footage of the "project of the century" describe its ambitious scope.

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Spanish | Russian

Release Date:

15 April 2016 (Poland) See more »

Also Known As:

The Project of the Century See more »

Filming Locations:


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Did You Know?


Winner of the Critics' Award for Best Film in the Lima International Film Festival 2015. See more »

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User Reviews

16 February 2015 | by EdgarSTSee all my reviews

Carlos Quintela has a jovial disposition and a diaphanous nature, but with him things are not «easy»: his flow of ideas is coherent, but it may seem a bit complex to those adept at superficial readings. His debut feature "The Swimming Pool" seemed a simple tale of five people meeting at a public pool during a summer day, but there was more, from dramatic threads that were not shown with the usual resources of film narrative, to a calculated strategy to film it. With his next work, the complexity is evident, an intrinsic and integral part of the whole package. An ambitious film, sometimes even excessive and overwhelming, it is both a coldly objective and a painfully felt verification of the futility of human works, built behind the real needs of people. To anyone reading my summary, it may sound rhetoric: however, Quintela has placed on the table the failed and truncated construction of a nuclear metropolis in the midst of an island plagued with privations and limitations. When the film finished, the word that came to my mind was «debris» because –even if we love the Cuban people, even if we are grateful for the love, knowledge, medical care and «Latino dignity» that we received or learned from them- what we are left with, when the end credits roll, is the leftovers of lack of foresight and essential humanity, disguised as a monument to collective welfare. All this is told through two basic levels: first, Quintela inserted re-edited sections of archive footage of the real «project of the century» known as Nuclear City, in the province of Cienfuegos. With the aid of Soviet consultancy and capital, the Cuban government began to build a nuclear plant and a city in 1982, but the project was left unfinished with the end of the Soviet Union and the fall of the Berlin wall. The color footage was edited with its own narration, loaded with the typical demagoguery of any government propaganda, with the explicit agenda of convincing the people that they needed the plant, as the narrator was probably thinking that what he really needed was a more decent existence, in the middle of the blockade (of almost all nations in the planet, let's be fair, not only of the United States), internal bad administration and corruption, and more than a century of cultural and political indoctrination (mainly through the media) of all the masses and elites of the world, aligned with the ideology of the «American way». The second level (in black and white) is incorporated in an organic way, and tells the story of three survivors of the Cuban revolution, seen from their own perspectives: a mean and heartless grandfather (Mario Balmaseda), who lived both in Capitalism and Socialism, and who illustrates certain sexist smugness and arrogance inherited by many male Cubans, just because they were born men; a frustrated son (Mario Guerra), an engineer educated by the revolution, turned into an skeptical witness of the setback of the Nuclear City, a project that was also his own, in which he had put all his hope, and that led him to work in a pigsty; and a grandson (Leonardo Gascón), an anodyne being who has left his woman, who is seeking for a refuge and who only finds vital expressions through his tattoos, an old cell phone and masturbation. Unlike the lineal "The Swimming Pool", this time Quintela found in Yan Vega the person to give consistency to the ideas that he and screenwriter Abel Arcos wrote, imagined, talked about or improvised during shooting. The result is an open structure that includes other element that enrich the fiber of the discourse: songs with corny lyrics; peculiar characters as the fumigator (Jorge Molina, in one of his ingenious interventions, even in short roles), the Russian teacher, the operatic singer and the fat cyclist girlfriend. Even the damage of the video footage, the ruin of the electronic register in U-Matic, is a completely telling component, relevant with the key technological aspect of the story. To this additional footage we must also mention the inclusion of a scene from Sara Gómez Yera's film "De cierta manera", in which Balmaseda appeared 40 years ago, that besides giving an integral portrait of the grandfather, expresses a feeling we all humans experience when facing change: fear. Cubans have reached an extreme point in which people need comfort as an important element to lead a dignified and happy life, as an almost basic requirement to turn life into an aesthetic experience... that those in power do have. Carlos Quintela knows how to transmit the ugly landscape of privation and decay, with the help of beautiful images by Hungarian-Bolivian cinematographer Marcos Attila; and with them, he has attained another major achievement in his filmography and a noteworthy contribution to the cinema of Cuba.

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