In the 1950s, a majestic Grande Hotel was built in Beira in the former Portuguese colony Mozambique, as if it were the Côte d´Azur. It was doomed from the start and has now been stripped of everything of value: this film is a portrait of a skeleton and of some of the 3500 people who live there now.
It was once a five-star hotel with 110 spacious rooms, an Olympic swimming pool and a luxury restaurant. It was a Grande Hotel designed as an undulating cake, situated in Beira on the coast of Mozambique and, in all its pomp and circumstance, it represented the haughtiness of colonialism.
Today it is a grey ruin. Over 3500 Mozambiquans have sought refuge between the wide corridors and imposing staircases. Everything of value in the building has been demolished and sold; only the concrete frame remains. Without water or electricity, the inhabitants make the best of the situation. Small enterprises blossom, but there’s also violence and danger.
Lotte Stoops portrayed several of the present inhabitants of the Grande Hotel and in Portugal visited a former guest who still has fond memories of her time in Mozambique. A harrowing yet also fascinating and impressive story of a dream that was doomed to become a nightmare.
Grand Hotel is screening at the International Film Festival Rotterdam.