Abuela Grillo is a thoughtful tale about water privatisation and environmental exploitation in Bolivia. Alluding to the water wars in Cochabamba in 2000, it tells the story of “Grandmother Grasshopper” who can bring relieving rain to the arid mountains of the Andes by singing rain hymns in a typical cutesy combination of Quechua and Spanish:
“Ch’illchimullaypuni, ch’illchi paritay
Siempre tienes que llover, suave lluviecita
Yaku, yaku, yakituy, agua, agua, mi agüita”
(You always have to rain, soft rain, my little water…)
However, one day Abuela Grillo sang so much that her whole village is flooded. Angry about the chaos, her grandchildren ask her to leave her village. And so she wanders through the mountains to La Paz, passing dreamy landscapes, windy roads that remind one of Bolivia’s notorious “Carratera de la Muerte” (Death Road) and a llama with its llama headed shepherd. the big sinister city, where two villains force her to sing for them so that they can bottle and sell the water that she generates. Meanwhile, her grandchildren realise that the heatwave that hits their land has been caused by their grandmother’s absence and set out to look for Abuela Grillo to bring back fertility.
The Cochabamba water wars, also narrated more directly in the 2010 drama “También la Lluvia” (Even the rain) by Icíar Bollaín, took place in 2000 when peaceful protest against water privatisation turned violent and eventually to the reversal of the privatisation. This animated short-film, based on a autochthonous tale of the Ayoreo community, touches on the topic in an emotional and unconventional way.
The short is a collaboration between eight young Bolivian animators and the Animation Workshop of Denmark, one of Europe’s most important and influential animation schools. The soundtrack was composed and performed by Ludmila Carpio, a well-known Bolivian singer.