The last time I saw Luis Tosar, he scared the bejayzus out of me as a the leader of a prison rebellion in Cell 211. This time he’s a lot more charming, but no less conflicted, as he plays the producer of a film being shot on location in Bolivia.
In setting up the shoot for the film, which depicts Christopher Columbus claiming land in the Americas for the first time, he and his director (Gael García Bernal) choose to save money by hiring locals as extras and do to scenery building work.
The similarities between the exploitation of the locals and the enslavement of their ancestors is soon apparent even to the film-makers, but the demands of investors take priority.
At the same time, the campesinos become involved in protests and violent demonstrations against the privatisation of their water supply by international companies (based on the real-life events known as the Cochabamba protests.
These strands are woven together well, with the parallels being drawn yet not over-stated, and when the modern police encroach on the filmset and find themselves face to face with the red-painted indiginous people, the point is well and truly made.
I found it a fascinating film; I was left hoping that the actual film makers hadn’t exploited the extras they secured, which would have been the ultimate hypocrisy, but I will trust that they didn’t, and encourage you to go and see it.