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Special Project

Special Project
From the 16th Annual Shorty Awards

The Last Man of Epecuén

Entered in Documentary


"The Last Man of Epecuén" is a profound exploration of resilience, love, and the relentless pursuit of happiness. Set against the haunting backdrop of Argentina's Villa Epecuén, once a thriving village swallowed by a colossal saltwater lagoon in the 1980s, this cinematic piece unfolds the extraordinary story of Pablo Novak. Amidst the ruins and submerged memories, Novak emerges as the lone inhabitant who defiantly chose to remain, embodying a poignant symbol of unyielding resilience.

In the solitude of his 93 years, Novak's isolation isn't loneliness but a testament to the enduring human spirit. The film captures the rhythm of his daily life, untouched by time, as curious tourists and sporadic family members become witnesses to a life that defies conventional norms. "The Last Man of Epecuén" challenges societal norms, beckoning viewers to reconsider their own definitions of fulfillment and happiness in the modern age.

This thought-provoking narrative not only tugs at heartstrings but also serves as a mirror reflecting the complexities of the human experience. It's a visual journey that goes beyond mere storytelling; it's a profound meditation on the choices we make, the resilience we harbor, and the timeless quest for happiness in the face of adversity.

Strategy and Execution

Executing "The Last Man of Epecuén" was a unique and delicate undertaking that required meticulous strategy and execution, primarily centered around the challenges posed by Pablo Novak's advanced age. The success of this project can be attributed to our careful planning, respectful approach, and adaptability to unforeseen circumstances.

Strategic Planning: The initial step involved reaching out and coordinating with Pablo's family. Establishing open communication channels ensured that we could work collaboratively while being sensitive to Pablo's needs. Recognizing his eagerness to participate, we crafted a shooting plan that prioritized his comfort and considered his limited mobility due to age. This involved understanding his daily rhythms and adapting our schedule accordingly, acknowledging the slower pace dictated by his circumstances.

Execution Amidst Challenges: Pablo's advanced age presented a significant challenge. His reduced mobility and the disparity between his youthful spirit and aged body required a unique approach to filming. Each shot became a testament to his determination to perform despite physical constraints. The execution phase demanded patience and a commitment to capturing his story authentically. The slow rhythm of filming days reflected the unhurried pace of his life in Epecuén.

Weather and Time Constraints: The filming took place at the end of the spring season in Argentina, introducing the challenge of unpredictable weather. Navigating through adverse weather conditions required flexibility in the shooting schedule. Despite these obstacles, the team adapted to the changing climate, ensuring that the narrative remained uninterrupted.

Unique Family Dynamics: One of the film's distinctive features is the inclusion of Pablo's family. Despite his life in solitude within the ruins, the film highlights poignant moments shared with children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. This dynamic not only added depth to the narrative but also showcased the close-knit support system surrounding Pablo.

Emotional Significance: The film's uniqueness extends beyond its logistical challenges. It becomes truly special due to the awareness, shared by both Pablo and the filmmaking team, that this could be his last film. This heightened emotional resonance added layers of meaning to every frame captured. The film, serving as a beautiful memory of Pablo's life, was not just a documentation of his story but a heartfelt tribute.

Legacy and Closure: The film provided Pablo with an opportunity to witness and share his life's journey with his loved ones, creating a lasting legacy. A few days after the completion of the project, Pablo passed away, emphasizing the film's role as a poignant closure to his remarkable life.

In essence, the unique strategy and execution of "The Last Man of Epecuén" lie in the delicate balance between respecting the challenges posed by Pablo's age, navigating external factors like weather, and capturing the emotional richness of his family ties. The film stands as a testament to the resilience of the human spirit, thoughtful filmmaking, and the profound impact of honoring a unique individual's story.


"The Last Man of Epecuén" successfully achieved our team's objective of connecting with a younger audience by confronting the prevailing notion of isolation in an era dominated by social media exposure. In a world where digital connections often take precedence over physical presence, the film's narrative serves as a powerful commentary on the genuine human experience. And it is Pablo Novak's last appearance in media. 

By portraying Pablo Novak, the resilient protagonist, as a living testament to the triumph of the human spirit over isolation, the film strikes a chord with younger viewers navigating the complexities of modern relationships. Novak's refusal to succumb to loneliness, despite living in solitude, challenges the digital age's conventional narrative that equates online connectivity with true companionship.

Our success in reaching a younger demographic can be attributed to the film's ability to bridge the gap between traditional storytelling and contemporary issues. It serves as a compelling reminder that, amidst the incessant buzz of social media, genuine connections and meaningful relationships endure. The visual appeal of the film, coupled with its thought-provoking narrative, resonated with our target audience, sparking conversations on the impact of technology on interpersonal relationships. Through strategic marketing and a poignant storytelling approach, we managed to not only capture the attention of the younger demographic but also foster a reflection on the genuine human connections that persist beyond the digital realm.


Video for The Last Man of Epecuén

Entrant Company / Organization Name

Voice of America

Entry Credits