Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Grande Hotel of Mozambique

From CNN:
Once one of the most luxurious hotels in southern Africa, the Grande Hotel, in Beira, Mozambique, was abandoned by its original owners five decades ago.

It's now home to between 2,000 and 3,000 people who live in squalid conditions, without running water or electricity. Yet for these people the crumbling building is a self-contained community where they sleep, eat and work.

The once-luxurious lodging is the subject of a movie by Belgian filmmaker Lotte Stoops, which has just had its world premiere at the Rotterdam Film Festival.

Stoops stayed near the Grande Hotel during a month-long trip to Mozambique six years ago and was fascinated by what she saw.

"It was like a village within a village," she said. "It looked like the perfect social housing project."

Stoops returned to Beira two years ago to begin making her first documentary-length film, titled "Grande Hotel."

Officially opened in 1955, when Mozambique was still a Portuguese colony, the Grande closed its doors as a working hotel in the mid 60s.

By 1992, when the country's 16-year civil war ended, the building was accommodating refugees from all over Mozambique.

There were originally 110 guest rooms, but Stoops says every bit of space in the building is now used as a living area...

Former luxury hotel home to thousands of squatters
Amy Fallon and Mark Tutton
February 7, 2011

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