If you ask me what is the best movie to start discovering Latin American cinema, probably I’d answer that También la lluvia. This Mexican, Spanish and French co-production is a beautiful story which keeps in suspense and definitely tries to give something to its audience, to teach something and provoke discussions.
Directed by Icíar Bollaín and staring Luis Tosar as Costa and Gael García Bernal as Sebastián, it tells a story of a crew which shoots a movie about Columbus in Bolivia. There’s a lot of double meanings in the movie, starting with the fact, that Costa, the producer, and Sebastian, the director, try to make a movie about Spanish conqueror in a country which doesn’t even have access to the sea. As always, it’s all about the money. Sebastián wanted to shoot in Spanish, not in English, and by doing so, the producton didn’t get enough funding. It’s so true: we still tend to watch movies in our native languages and if we accept a „foreign” movie, it’s usually something in English. Taking this into account, both filmmakers appear at first as the positive force in the movie.
However, there’s the other side of the coin: the fight between the rich and the poor. The images of Columbus who conquers the new lands in the name of Spanish crown are somehow a symbol of the current situation in the majority of the South American countries who are still dependent on the richer foreign investors. The movie is based on a real story of privatization of water supply in Cochabamba, Bolivia. In 2000, the Bolivian government in fact used as an excuse the fact, that they are poor and explained, that indeed they need the help of the foreign investor. Suddenly, the poorest Bolivians couldn’t even collect the rain water as the new regulations were introduced and such behaviour was prohibited. Latin America is still being conquered, nowadays just by different forces.
Costa and Sebastián suddenly, metaphorically speaking, also join the conquerors side. Even though they know the reality of the daily life in Bolivia, they still pay their actors only 2$ per day. Everything to save costs and make profits: so that the rich will become richer.
También la lluvia shows how still vulnerable Latin America is. Even though the screenwriter, Paul Laverty, didn’t intend to make a movie about making a movie, adding the story about Columbus to the screenplay made the movie even more powerful than if it showed only the political side of privatization. Also, the determination and willingness, with which both Costa and Sebastián want to finish the movie, at some point becomes more important than the Bolivia’s current domestic situation. Showing it impacts us, the audience: how come that people tend to forget about the basic needs and put their own interests above the existence of the others? And how different are our needs, even though they’re important to us, that they look trivial in comparison to the other ones?
The movie was nominated for Spanish awards, Goya in thirteen categories and received three of them. It got also an award from the audience at the Berlinale in the Panorama section. Pitty, that it wasn’t awarded in Mexico or any other Latin American country. The history made a circle again: the rich dominated the poor again.