Bollain's powerful film about filming targets social justice in Latin America

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 30 September, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 30 September, 2012, 5:35pm

Directed by Iciar Bollain and written by her husband, Paul Laverty, a long-time collaborator of Ken Loach's, Even the Rain revolves around a Mexican director-producer duo's attempts to make a film denouncing the exploitation and abuse committed by conquistadores in the so-called New World, and their brutal suppression of the native population who dared to rise up against them.

The film is screened on Friday as part of the Spanish Film Festival and it's a story that mirrors what's unfolding around the cast and crew. Having elected to film in Bolivia because of the cheap labour available there, producer Costa (Luis Tosar) - who is not averse to bribing anyone to get his way - soon finds his life mirroring the Taino revolution they are recreating on film, as the local population take up arms against an American multinational making hefty profits by selling the country's water back to the masses.

In such circumstances the methods of both Costa and his director Sebastian (Gael Garcia Bernal) begin to look questionable, such as the way the casting process resembles the slave trade or how the producer coerces his actor, Daniel (Juan Carlos Arduviri), to stay away from the protests so that he can finish the film. It all snowballs to the point that the filmmakers appear to be re-enacting the kind of exploitation they are seeking to critique.

Bollain's film is a remarkable intellectual feat and an incredible visual feast, channelling Werner Herzog's Fitzcarraldo into a 21st-century Latin America where economic and social equalities remain as entrenched as in decades past. Although the ending comes across as being a little too pat, what goes before this reconciliation stirs up a lot of the spectres that still plague South Amerrica. Clarence Tsui Even the Rain , Fri, 7.50pm, Broadway Cinematheque; 9.50pm, IFC Palace