DIR: Icíar Bollaín • WRI: Paul Laverty • PRO: Juan Gordon • DOP: Alex Catalán • ED: Ángel Hernández Zoido • DES: Juan Pedro De Gaspar • Cast: Gael García Bernal, Luis Tosar, Karra Elejalde
Making a film about Christopher Columbus’ conquests in the New World 500 years ago is no easy feat. This is probably why the makers of this Spanish language film, set in the spring of 2000, chose to make this a film within a film. The film follows a Spanish film crew who come to Bolivia to tell the story of the brutal conquests of the early 1500s. This clever narrative device allows director Iciar Bollain and screenwriter Paul Laverty to tell not just one story of exploitation of a native people but two. Christopher Columbus’ ruthless conquest of the native people of Latin America is well known but the details still manage to shock, as we see these scenes acted out by the local Bolivians in the humid mountainous regions where, if we took away the cameras, it could easily be 1500.
The Spanish crew must look at their Spanish heritage and how their country’s imperialism has affected these people. The filmmakers: Sebastian (Gael Garcia Bernal), the idealistic director and the pragmatic producer Costa (Luis Tosar) hope that their film will tell the story of the cruelty of the Conquistadors and the courage of the few who defied them. However, while the crew are in Bolivia the local people begin to protest against plans to privatise the local water supply. Unlikely heroes emerge as lives hang in the balance.
The merging of these two historic events leads the film crew and cast to examine what is really important to them and to question the medium of filmmaking as a tool for examining history. Bolivian actor Juan Carlos Aduviri, who plays both the local activist Daniel and native Atuey in the fictional film, manages to show both stories through his eyes and becomes the heart of the film.
While the subject matter was very difficult to tackle, Bollain manages to find a creative and effective narrative device to tell these two stories and the story of the ongoing exploitation of native peoples across the world, which leads to a thought provoking and inspiring piece of filmmaking. This film both educates us on the complex problems of Latin America while effectively showing the human side of these people’s problems, surely what a good political film should do.
Ailbhe O’ Reilly
Even the Rain is released on 8th June 2012