Star rating - 8/10
This film was made in 2010 but is just out on DVD, and concerns a group of film makers making a movie in the Bolivian city of Cochambamba about the colonisation and exploitation that happened at the hands of Christopher Columbus as he 'discovered' the New World.
Spanish director Icíar Bollaín brings out the irony of the project, as the locals are recruited as extras in the film, and find themselves exploited by the film makers in a mirror image of the past.
A parallel story soon emerges, affecting the real lives rather than the dramatic exploits of the local inhabitants. They are being cut off from their water supply by a multinational corporation, keen to privatise the supply for profit. The police intervene and arrest one of the key actors in the film, Daniel (Juan Carlos Aduviri), who is also one of the leaders of the protest against the water privatisation
But these parallel threads collide as the priorities of the film makers and the local extras inevitably clash - shooting schedule or water. Morals are questioned, as the film makers are forced to change their stance on more than one occasion. The political issues involved are undoubtedly important, and the arguments, although possibly slightly obvious targets, are well made.
There are three great performances involved. Luis Tosar (Costa) and the extremely easy on the eye Gael Garcia Bernal (Sebastian) are convincing as the film makers caught between the dedication to their project, and the ever increasing brutality and violence which the protesters, many of whom are members of their cast, are having to face. Aduvira, in his first film role, is also excellent as Daniel, who remains steadfast to his cause and stubborn as a mule - to the desperate frustration of the crew.
This is an engaging and serious film, whose issues are firmly on its sleeve, but then I find sleeves quite useful for that purpose myself.