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Monday, 07 March 2011 15:34

Plenty to Lift Spirits in Even the Rain

Plenty to Lift Spirits in Even the Rain
Written by Diane Carson
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Juxtaposing making a movie in Bolivia on Columbus' arrival in the New World with modern-day protests over water rights, Even the Rain wears its politics boldly; that is, it critiques comparable fifteenth century and 21st-century exploitation. Then, Columbus demands gold from the Indians and brutally suppresses any resistance; today, a miserly film producer takes advantage of the indigenous population.

Cast as Hatuey, Columbus' primary Taino Indian adversary, activist Daniel also leads the local Bolivians in their water-rights demonstrations, based on real events. For in 1999 the Bolivian government privatized the water systems in the city of Cochabamba. The title, Even the Rain, comes from the fact that citizens could not legally collect even rainwater. Protestors took to the streets to demonstrate against the transnational company Bechtel that would be the beneficiary. In January 2007 Bolivia finally returned water systems to the residents.

As dramatized in Even the Rain, this exploitation of peasants parallels the inhumane treatment meted out five centuries ago. While the film's director empathizes with the indigenous people while the producer compromises safety, pushes for quick shooting, and brags about the cheap $2 paid extras. Enriching the wealth of politics, the Columbus story explores the role of two missionaries who reportedly defended the Indians. Meantime, a distracting subplot involves a documentary being made about the internal film shoot.

As the director Sebastian, Gael Garcia Bernal conveys his customary intensity combined with an appealing attentiveness to his fellow actors including Luis Tosar as the insensitive producer Costa and Juan Carlos Aduviri as the passionate, charismatic Daniel. Director Iciar Bollain effectively contrasts the lush, panoramic Columbus scenes with cinema-verité style for the present-day. Explicitly political in both time periods, Even the Rain argues for and shows that good films can be compelling and have something substantive to say. In Spanish with English subtitles. At Landmark's Tivoli Theatre for one week only, through Thursday, March 17th.

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