Left to right: También la lluvia / Even the Rain (Icíar Bollaín, 2010), Oviedo Express (Gonzalo Suárez, 2007).
También la lluvia is a film I've been trying to get hold of for a while, but for some reason the DVD is like gold dust through mainstream sites (which allows the private sellers to demand ridiculous prices) -if anyone knows why, please leave a comment below because it seems very odd that something only released on DVD in 2011 is so difficult to get hold of. Anyway, it was well worth the effort because I really enjoyed it and it contains some quietly compelling performances. On a basic level it's about a Spanish film crew in Bolivia trying to make a film about Columbus's discovery of the New World, the indigenous resistance that followed, and the part played by priests in the whole saga -so a film about filmmaking, then, with Gael García Bernal as the idealistic director, Luis Tosar as the cynical producer, and Karra Elejalde (who won a Goya for his performance) as the faded big name actor playing Columbus. We see the usual arguments about production costs, and a series of self-absorbed (and self-righteous), bickering actors. But it develops into something far richer by setting up a series of parallels between the narrative of the film being made and the social circumstances they find being played out in Bolivia - there's Columbus and the New World / the film crew and Bolivia, and the Colonial power's desire for gold / a multinational company buying up Bolivia's water rights. The film crew find that they cannot ignore what is going on around them because they hire locals to play the indigenous population, and the man they hire to play the leader of the resistance (Juan Carlos Aduviri) is one of the key organisers of the protests against the multinational company that is taking over the national water supplies (a law makes it illegal for the locals to dig their own wells or to collect 'even the rain'). This makes it sound like it could be a worthy and dull affair but it's not. We think that we know the character 'types' that people are playing, but they are all changed by their experiences and turn out to be more well-rounded than first appears -e.g. the idealist does not, strictly speaking, live up to his own ideals, and the cynic (believably) discovers that some things are more important than money. I may revisit the film in the future in a longer post -if you get a chance to see it, do so, because it is one of the films that I've liked the most in recent months.
Oviedo Express has certain similarities plotwise -in this case a visiting theatre troupe prepare to put on a version of La Regenta in Oviedo, and their arrival impacts on the lives of the locals (and vice versa), but that is where the similarity ends. It is a tragicomedy of sorts with a very starry cast (Carmelo Gómez! Aitana Sánchez-Gijón! Bárbara Goenaga! Maribel Verdú! Najwa Nimri! Jorge Sanz!) but it has a bit of a mean streak that leaves a bitter taste. Although it's probably not one that I will rewatch, it did have its moments -namely any scene with Maribel Verdú, and Carmelo Gómez's bit of business with his cape.