After years working as a border patrolman, José (Alex González) is cynical about his work. His skepticism is tested when he encounters Nathalie (Sabine Timoteo), a German tourist assisting a boatload of refugees she discovers landing on the Canary shores. One of those refugees, a Congolese man named Zola (Hubert Koundé), is placed in an internment camp. Nathalie tries to help him, despite her husband’s objections. But Zola and his son Mamadou quickly find themselves in yet another precarious situation, where they are dependent on nefarious smugglers. Questions of responsibility repeatedly arise and haunt all concerned as they grapple with the knowledge they cannot know for certain if their actions will make matters better or worse.
Between 2002 and 2011, Human Rights Watch documented in multiple reports (in particular the 2002 The Other Face of the Canary Islands) serious abuses that migrants and asylum seekers face in the Spanish Canary Islands. Most disturbingly, many unaccompanied children are subjected to abuse, which include substandard detention and living conditions, physical abuse, denial of education, and flawed procedural guarantees such as lack of access to lawyers and the asylum procedure.