Set in Bolivia, this Spanish film stars Gael Garcia Bernal (`Amores Perros', `Bad Education' and `Rudi y Cursi') as film director Sebastian. He is making a film in the Cochabamba region with his exec producer Costa (Luis Tosar - `Cell 211', `Mr Nice' and `Miami Vice'). They have chosen the area because they are on a limited budget and know they can hire local extras for next to nothing.
At auditioning a feisty Indian, Daniel kicks up a fuss about not getting a screen test, Sebastian decides to take him on. They are shooting a film about Columbus set in 1511, and they want to use contemporary accounts as much as possible to keep it accurate. They are also keen to show how the Indians were exploited by the Spanish Empire and show a few good men who stood up for the Indians and the tyranny of the Church.
Things go well at first and the historical scenes are absolutely brilliant - would make an excellent film in itself to be honest. But then they discover that Daniel is a leading activist against the privatisation of water or more accurately the theft of water, which is referenced in the title of the film. The local police enforce the foreign privately owned water companies policies and as water means life, it is only inevitable that the Indians will fight back.
So as filming rolls on, the five hundred year old events start to have a strange resonance with what is actually taking place in the present, and the parallels with the Conquistadors is only too obvious.
This then is a truly brilliant piece of cinema; you almost get two films in one or three if you include the people making a documentary of the making of the film. Yes it sounds complicated but it really works. The framing of the shots is superb, the scenery stunning, all the actors do an excellent job and some of the crowd scenes have a real feeling of documentary - which all adds to the realism. It is also shamelessly emotional and I suppose it was inevitable given the subject matter and had me moved a couple of times, so I can not recommend highly enough. In Spanish, with some English and sub titles that are sometimes slightly obscured, but still alright, this is a film for anyone who likes their cinema slightly different or indeed likes world cinema. This was written by the uber talented Paul Laverty (`The Wind That Shakes The barley', `Sweet Sixteen' and `Route Irish') and I cant wait to see his next offering (`The Angels Share') until then I will watch this again as it is just that good