Friday, 6 July 2012

Even the Rain

Cochabamba's water protests.

Screenwriter Paul Laverty is best known for his work with Ken Loach, that’s twelve films to date, four of these are what I would call conflict movies i.e. Route Irish (2010) The Wind that Shakes the Barley (2006) Bread and Roses (2000) and Carla’s Song (1996). Laverty has now written a screenplay for his wife the Spanish actress, director and writer Iciar Bollain, who appeared in Land and Freedom (1995) and went on to write a book about her experiences working with Loach.

There are certain things in life that are worth protesting over.

The conflict this time takes place in Cochabamba the fourth largest city in Bolivia and involves the protests in 2000 that broke out in the city over the government’s decision to privatise the water company, an action that increased the cost of water by 300%. Into this hotbed of social unrest comes a Spanish film crew to make a movie within a movie. It’s to be a period film set some five hundred years ago about Columbus’s exploitation of the native Indians and his obsession with gold and the hunt for slaves. This runs parallel with not only the problem with the Bolivians drinking water but how the film company also exploits them.

Waters one of them
Daniel leader of the protest. 

Inspired by the late US Historian and social activist Howard Zinn its core is how a modern day film company can attempt to make a film about the exploitation of indigenous natives and do exactly the same thing to there modern day counterparts, an unpretentious people that live in abject poverty. Columbus stole their freedom and there wealth and now they are being deprived of not only a basic right: water, but a decent monetary reward for their work in the film. This delicate state of affairs develops into a life and death situation.

Into this turmoil come a Spanish film company.

It stars Mexican actor Gael Garcia Bernel (Amores perros (2000), Y tu mama tambien (2001), Bad Education (2004), The Motorcycle Diaries (2004)) as Sebastian, director in the movie, but the best performances come from Luis Tosar as Costa the executive producer and Juen Carlos Aduviri as Daniel the native who becomes an important cast member and a leader in the protests.  The film benefits from the superb on-location cinematography. As you can probably tell by now its very socially aware film, the influence of Loach is obvious on both the story line and the way the film has been constructed. In the future I’m sure that men will not struggle over colorful pieces of metal but something far far more important: water, as this splendid film demonstrates.  It’s always a great tragedy that some meaningful films are not given a wider distribution, well done to the Robert Burns Centre Film Theatre in Dumfries for giving us the opportunities to sample such a well made and interesting film. 

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