Saturday, April 30, 2011

Even the Rain (Rhoades)

“Even the Rain”
Swaps Water for Gold

Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades

I collect Salvador Dali art and adore Fellini films. That’s because I appreciate surrealism, art’s attempt to release the creative potential of the unconscious mind.
While “Even the Rain” (original title: “También la lluvia”) is not surrealism in the strictest sense, it effectively uses the surrealistic technique of irrational juxtaposition of images. In this case, a film about Christopher Columbus spliced together with real-life news footage of a Bolivian demonstration over a water shortage.
It makes more sense than you’d think.
“Even the Rain” is sharing its symbolic parallels at the Tropic Cinema.
In it, we find a filmmaker named Sebastián (Gael Garcia Bernal) who wants to make a film about how badly the Spanish treated the indigenous population of the New World. He’s basing his film on the writings of Bartolomé de las Casas, a 16th-century historian and social reformer who was appointed official “Protector of the Indians.”
So Sebastián takes his crew to Bolivia where the film can be cheaply made by using locals who work for two dollars a day. Unfortunately, the filmmakers arrive during the Cochabamba water crisis in 2000. Tensions are high. Demonstrations clog the streets.
Sebastián casts a local man named Daniel (Juan Carlos Aduviri) as the Taino chief who led a rebellion against the Spaniards. As it happens, Daniel is one of the leaders in the protests against the water hikes.
“Even The Rain” draws parallels between the fight for water in Bolivia and the Spanish quest for gold. By intercutting scenes from Sebastián’s film about the Taino uprising with footage of actual water-shortage demonstrations, fiction and fact seem to merge. And lines between past and present begin to blur.
This film-within-a-film stretches your perception of reality. Moviegoers love it. One said, “It was great; although it makes you wonder what would happen if they pulled the cameras back one more level and we saw the ‘real’ set and its actors.”
One scene shows a helicopter carrying a cross in the air. This is reminiscent of that scene in Fellini’s “La Dolce Vita” where we see a helicopter carrying a sculpture of Christ. It’s a not-so-subtle homage, one surreal director to another.
You’ll nearly forget that the real director of this film is Icíar Bollaín Pérez-Mínguez – not the fictional Sebastián. Icíar is a Spanish actress (“El Sur,” “Land and Freedom”) who turned her hand to directing with “Hi, Are You Alone?” This is her third outing behind the camera. “Even the Rain” was Spain’s official submission as Best Foreign Language Film for the 2010 Academy Awards.
So we have a film made in Bolivia about a film being made in Bolivia that exploits local workers the way the Spaniard subjugated the Indios they found in the New World. That’s why I agree with the suggestion that the film’s credits should have included a disclaimer: “No indigenous Bolivians were underpaid or put in harm’s way making this movie.”
[from Solares Hill]

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