Happy accidents present themselves at times in mysterious random occurences and much of the end result is a welcomed chance to discover something that might otherwise have gone unnoticed.
One such opportunity was a chance given to attend a screening of Even the Rain (Tambien la lluvia) at the University of San Diego’s Mission Crossroads community center. Tucked away on the east side of USD’s scenic campus, the comfortable communal atmosphere of the center provided a nurturing haven for the film screening festivities held often throughout the school’s semesters. The presentation of the film was a joint partnership between the faculty of the school’s Latin American studies department, headlined by Dr. Alejandro Meter, Associate Professor of the school’s Latin American studies program and the school’s social justice living learning community.
Rain is based on the true events that took place in Bolivia in 2000 on the eve of the Cochacamba water riots. The movie starts off with a film crew’s arrival on location in Cochacamba to take on a controversial tale of Christopher Columbus’s voyage to the New World and the later conquest of the land’s resources and enslavement of the natives at the hands of the Spaniards. Sebastian (Gael Garcia Bernal), the film’s director, aims to expose a not-so-flattering expose on Columbus’s discovery and the violation of the Indians at the hands of his Spanish cohorts. His lead producer Costa (Luis Tosar) looks to pinch a few pennies with the production budget so the duo goes about recruiting many of the town’s impoverished locals to portray members of the Taino Indian tribe Columbus comes into contact with. The hours are long and arduous and for their troubles Costa rewards them with a measly two dollars a day. This form of exploitation doesn’t sit very well with Daniel (Juan Carlos Aduviri) a headstrong local who’s been hand selected by Sebastian for the pivotal role of Hatuey, the Taino chief who leads his people in a rebellion against the Spaniards. Daniel is a force to be reckoned with and instantly clashes with Costa’s equally overbearing personality and business dealings. Adding some flare to the mix are Anton, (Karra Elejalde) a seasoned performer and alcoholic who plays the title role of Columbus himself, and Juan (Raul Arevalo) bearing the role of legendary Dominican friar Antonio de Montesinos, one of the first members of the Spanish clergy to dedicate himself to the plight of the indigenous people.
As the movie’s filming commences a sweeping political inferno arrives in town in the form of a multinational water corporation. The water company sets up shop and immediately goes about privatizing the city’s main water supply by seizing up all municipal lines and barricading any accessibility from the people for the sake of a six hundred percent profit hike. Left hopeless by the company’s thieving tactics and with no access to any clean drinking water, the public’s panic soon turns to anger and the people begin to take to the streets in protest against the multinational’s monopoly. In the meantime, Daniel’s integral participation as Hatuey is thrown into peril as he assumes the lead in organizing public outrage against the water company much to the chagrin of the film crew, in particular with Costa. As the mounting tensions between the people and the political and corporate hierarchy continue to flare out of control daily on the streets Sebastian and Costa find themselves faced with a tough decision; ignore the grave new realities confronting the nation, it’s people and the crew’s safety for the sake of completing a vanity project or putting away one’s own goals and objectives for the greater good of helping the plight of those hurting around you.
This decision marks the centralized theme of Rain and threads itself throughout the movie’s film-within-a-film plot by addressing the dark side of mankind’s historical pursuit of power throughout history and the revolutionary makings of a people’s movement in the face of such tyranny.
Even the Rain is a definitive blueprint for social justice and an important example of why the fight for the greater good of all mankind should never be forgotten.
Four stars out of five.