This week, OU’s Spanish Club hosted a viewing of the Bolivian film “También la Lluvia” (Even the Rain). At first, I was a bit concerned that I would not be able to understand a film entirely in Spanish. Thankfully, there were both English and Spanish subtitles! I challenged myself to only look at the Spanish subtitles, but admit that I did peek at the English every once in awhile. Typically, I only needed to do this when there were colloquial words and idioms that I was not familiar with.
The movie is based on a true story about the film directors Sebastián and Costa, who traveled from their native Mexico and Spain to Bolivia to work on a project. The movie they planned to create was a historical film based on the arrival of Christopher Columbus in the Americas. However, they arrived at the time of the Bolivian protests against water privatization be their government. The film focuses on this issue, which becomes a central part of the project. The man the directors cast as Hatuey, the native Taino chief that led a rebellion against the Spaniards, is ironically at the head of the protests against water privatization (unbeknownst to the directors). Without giving too much away, I will say that the film clearly aligns the role of the long-deceased chief Hatuey with Daniel, the local Bolivian actor leading the charge against the privatization of Bolivian water sources that have belonged to the people (especially indigenous) since before the time of Hatuey.
I was interested to see this movie because one of the classes I took while abroad in Mexico focused on the privatization of water by the government. Lakes and rivers that had served as sources of drinking water, agricultural water, and fishing sites for rural communities for centuries were being sold to large international companies. Many of these companies were alternative energy corporations seeking to create dams that would generate hydroelectricity. However, instead of pursuing this in their own nations, these companies would pay off Latin American governments to privatize water sources near small communities that had no means to legally defend them. While this class focused on Mexican politics, I do remember briefly touching on the similar Bolivian “Water War” that took place around the turn on the 21st century after escalating for years. The term “war” is used to describe the police violence that broke out against lower class protesters.
“También la Lluvia” illustrates this violence, as well as the corruption of the Bolivian government and police force during this time. The directors struggle morally as they are torn between completing their film (about the European seizure of land from native tribes) and defending their Bolivian actors and their families as they protest the privatization of their water by a large European firm. The parallels are subtle yet undeniable, making this film a powerful statement about colonization and our modern world.