People and Projects

by Mark Chmiel

1.
Costa’s a film producer
A Spanish gantser macher
He can feel good about himself
By helping the idealistic director Sebastian
To realize his dream of making a revisionist movie
About those dissident, trouble-making priests
Las Casas and Montesinos
Who challenge Columbus’ mission in the “New World”
“This film’s gonna be great”
“Fucking epic, man”

Costa’s preoccupation
Is how to save money at every turn
When the director’s assistant Maria
Sees that the Cochabamba people
Are rising up against the privatization of their water
She asks Costa if she can make a documentary about it
He refuses
Says “I’m not a fucking NGO”
“It has nothing to do with me”
And Maria retorts
“But you’re right in the middle of it”

2.
Is this the way it would be?

At midnight your friend calls in from outside
“A traveler has come to me
And I have no food
Please, help”

3.
Midway through this film
About the making of a film
Director Sebastian is explaining to the Bolivian locals
The crucial scene of the indigenous mothers drowning their children
Rather than let them be subjected to the Spanish marauders
We see the girl Belén with her arm wrapped up with Costa’s
As her father Daniel tells Sebastian
That the local women actors
(Who are themselves indigenous)
Refuse to do the scene:
“They can’t even conceive of such a thing”
Sebastian tries to get him to convince them otherwise
Because the scene is imperative
As well as historically accurate
And Daniel says to Sebastian
“Some things are more important than your film”

4.
At midnight you call out from inside
“We are all in bed
Do not disturb us
Please, leave”

Is that the way it would be?

5.
As all hell is breaking loose in Cochabamba
With the people occupying the streets
The Spanish film crew has to get to a safe place
To finish their film
Belén’s mother Theresa appears
Just as the Spaniards are getting in their vans to flee to safety
Theresa tells Costa that Belén
Has been seriously injured at a demonstration
And could he please help
He emphatically tells her he’s responsible for the film crew
“And we’re leaving right now”
She pleads with him
Costa then goes and consults with Sebastian
Who tells him
That it’s dangerous to stay
And that the film is fucked if Costa doesn’t come with them

Costa goes back resolved to say no to Theresa
That he’ll send someone else
He raises his voice as she is persistent
He’s tightening up
And walks away from Theresa who then says softly
“But you are our friend…”
At which point he freezes
Then turns to tell Theresa to wait
He goes to tell Sebastian
He’s going to find Belén
And Sebastian gets hysterical
Starts arguing with him saying
“This incident will soon be forgotten
But our film will live forever!”
Costa says he couldn’t forgive himself
If something happens to that girl
And he and Theresa take off in search of the wounded Belén
And off the film crew goes to finish their epic

6.
A film to tell the true story of Columbus’ coming to this hemisphere
A film to upset the establishment
A film about the heroes for human rights five hundred years ago
What a great project!
And don’t we all have our own precious projects
Our path to success
And, why not say it, more money, more status, and more prestige
But also, it’s for the good of others, too, right?
Nothing should interfere with our agenda
Our advancement
Our making an impact

Is that the way it would be?

También la lluvia (Even the Rain), directed by Icíar Bollaín
Italicized portions are from John  Dominic Crossan’s The Essential Jesus

Belén and Costa

Belén and Costa

Advertisements