By Leah Zak | The Playlist January 29, 2011 at 4:38AM
If there seems to be a theme to higher-profile films this year (we’re looking at you Blue Valentine) it’s the long, long road that it took for them to get to where they are, and Spanish Oscar submission "Even the Rain” is in amongst that crew. We reviewed the film Monday, but also had the chance to speak briefly with both the film’s producer, Juan Gordon, as well as the director, Icíar Bollaín (pictured above with one of the film's leads, Luis Tosar) and gain some further insight into how this project eventually made its way to the screen.
“Paul [Laverty, the screenwriter] had originally developed a different project with a different producer that did not get made, but he was eager to develop something based on los campesinos (the farmers, or villagers).” said Gordon, who, 3 years after Laverty first began developing the script, came on as producer, working with him another 6 to get it made, “at some point he felt that we needed to state what happened 500 years ago and what is happening today” comparing the injustices of Columbus's treatment towards the natives of his conquests, and the classism that continues to reign in many of the world's developing nations. “[In developed nations] we have the tendency to accept how the world is... in the case of when you are the one being exploited, you stand up and say something.” Which is exactly what happened in 2000 during the Water Wars -- the events depicted in "Even the Rain" are based on a real uprising of the Bolivian people against their government when it began subsidizing water sources. “It was one of those things where everyone in a city all came together, fighting for the same cause,” something Gordon and Laverty found very inspiring, “one of the few times in today’s world where we see civil unrest and that it is successful.” Using a motif of a film-within-a-film, Laverty sought to bring these two stories, hundreds of years apart, together for a thorough examination.
The story mapped out, the filmmakers began searching for a director. The script was originally in the hands of Alejandro González Iñárritu, but he ended up leaving the project to make “Biutiful,” -- not a loss there for anyone, as “Biutiful” has gone on to win international acclaim, and upon Iñárritu’s departure, the reigns fell into the hands of Goya award winning Spanish filmmaker and actress, Icíar Bollaín, who also happens to be Laverty’s wife. “This was the first time Paul and I worked together, I had always used my own scripts, writing and directing them, we often give each other a hand, but it never crossed my mind to direct this. Mostly because it’s so different than the type of films I’m known for [which are] more intimate stories about couples and relationships," Bollaín said, “when I read it, I thought it would be a challenge for me, these 3 different stories and bringing the audience through them.”
Tying the 3 stories together is Gael Garcia Bernal, who plays Mexican director Sebastian in the film. “We liked the idea of making the film international,” she says of going with the choice to cast Bernal, “we also liked the idea of a Latin American looking at Latin American history.” Gordon also noted that the nationality of a film is becoming somewhat “dated.” “There’s a trend of commercially interesting Spanish language films from directors from all over the place.” In fact this year’s Mexican nominee “Biutiful” was filmed in Spain with Spanish actor Javier Bardem, while Spanish nominee ‘Rain’ was filmed in South America with a Mexican actor in the lead; a coincidence maybe, but further proof that the borders of Spanish language film, and international film in general, are blurring.
So what’s up next for the filmmakers? Bollaín was actually working on the early stages of her latest screenplay moments before we called, and Gordon already has 2 other projects on the docket, one “Neon Flesh” by Spanish up-and-comer Paco Cabezas, as well as “7 Days in Havana” “7 stories of characters on one day in Havana,” as he describes it, noting that one of the stories will be directed by actor Benicio Del Toro.
For a trailer and more information about upcoming screenings of "Even the Rain" in February, visit www.tambienlalluvia.com.