También la lluvia [Even the Rain] (2010)

También la lluvia
Director: Icíar Bollaín
Writer: Paul Laverty
Cast: Luis Tosar, Gael García Bernal, Juan Carlos Aduviri, Karra Elejalde, Raúl Arévalo, Carlos Santos, Cassandra Ciangherotti
Seen on: 30.10.2022

Content Note: (critical treatment of) colonialism, racism

Plot:
Producer Costa (Luis Tosar), director Sebastian (Gael García Bernal) and their cast and crew are set to make a film in Bolivia, tackling the arrival of the Europeans with Christoph Columbus and the ensuing genocidale colonization. They have decided to make an open casting for the Native roles and find Daniel (Juan Carlos Aduviri) to play the leader of the resistance, Atuey. But Daniel is himself engaged in organizing against plans to privatize the local water supply – and those interests are set to crash.

También la lluvia is an interesting meta film that shows that recognizing the evils of colonialism in others does not mean that you don’t participate in it yourself. I found it very engaging.

The film poster showing Costa (Luis Tosar) and Sebastian (Gael García Bernal) in front of a mountaineous landscape, below them a helicopter carrying a giant cross.

The film crew arrives in Bolivia with the best of intention. Sebastian in particular is idealistic. He really wants to do something for the people there, really wants to show that Columbus was not some kind of hero and that even at the time, people criticized him severely. He understands his film as a political endeavor, and he wants to make the most of it. But then there is reality, and what Sebastian hasn’t understood is that not only the film itself is political, but making it is as well. Costa is much less idealistic. He is the money person, he has to keep an eye on the budget and he is delighted by how cheap he can get labor and other resources in Bolivia. By sticking to the capitalist playbook, he automatically starts to exploit the local people.

For both of them, the problems the locals have, the fight they have to fight against the (USAmerican) company who is trying to buy their water and with it their means of survival is a nuisance that disturbs the filming process. And the film comes first for them, not the people – ultimately that’s how they continue the colonialism that Columbus started.

Costa (Luis Tosar) and Sebastian (Gael García Bernal) arriving at the open casting.

Bollaín beautifully sets this up, and one can’t help but be reminded of many projects that are supposedly in support of a group of people but refuse to listen to them or but the needs of those people above the project itself. Unfortunately, that particular part of the film is way too realistic, though always done with a sense of humor and a bit of levity. The last third, with a sudden change of heart and a chase through the city, feels a little over the top, though, as if the film itself fell into the trap of Hollywoodian narratives that it tries to criticize (how much more interesting would it have been if the film had left the fictional film behind in the end and shifted the focus on the Natives!).

But other than that, I don’t have any complaints about a film that is both politically insightful and funny. It makes excellent points with good performances, sharing history as much as commenting on the continuities today. Absolutely lovely.

Daniel (Juan Carlos Aduviri) in costume as Atuey on the filmset.

Summarizing: highly recommended.

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