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U.S., 1979
Directed by Leon Ichaso and Orlando Jiménez Leal
Starring Raimundo Hidalgo-Gato, Zully Montero, Reynaldo Medina
Screenplay by Leon Ichaso and Manuel Arce
Approx. 90 min. DCP courtesy Manuel Arce.

Shot entirely in NYC on the streets and in real apartments, with its characters largely speaking Spanish (a first for an American independent film), EL SUPER is the story of 42-year-old Cuban exile Roberto, superintendent of a large Washington Heights apartment building. In his New York Times review, Vincent Canby wrote, “Roberto not only suffers the life of an outsider, he embraces it, as well as the isolation, the humiliation and the homesickness that go with it…From this beginning you might think that EL SUPER would be grim, but you’d be wrong. It’s a funny, even-tempered, unsentimental drama… much less about politics than it is about the disorientation of exiles who become living metaphors for the human condition. Such a person is Roberto, played with infinite good humor and common sense by Raymundo Hidalgo-Gato. The role, like the screenplay by Manuel Arce and Mr. Ichaso, is extremely well written as it avoids the usual impulse to state in large speeches what it intends to be about… The film was obviously produced with care, intelligence, and a cast of marvelous Cuban and Puerto Rican actors.”


“As the homesick hero, who refuses to learn English as a matter of principle and who sees the members of his family and friends drifting away as they become assimilated, Mr. Hildalogo-Gato gives a remarkably funny and touching performance that never once slops over into sentimentality. His, of course, is not a solo effort. It’s an excellent role in a very good screenplay by Manuel Arce and Leon Ichaso… It’s a performance and a movie to pay attention to.”
– Vincent Canby, The New York Times

“EL SUPER is today one of the classics of national cinematography. This work opened a path for the consolidation of the Cuban cinema of the diaspora and bequeathed a significant artistic document to think about the phenomenon of exile unleashed by the revolutionary triumph. Forty-five years after its premiere, this film continues to be a relevant production both for the sharpness of its story and for the aesthetic audacity of its production.”
– Angel Perez, Rialta

“…humorously realistic look at the day-to-day problems of an expatriate.”
– K.C. Summers, The Washington Post

“The ultimate Cuban exile film.”
The Miami Herald

Film Forum