Cartoon Friday Watercooler: Abuela Grillo (Grandmother Cricket)
It’s Cartoon Friday, again!
Tonight’s viewing is Abuela Grillo, which translates as Grandmother Cricket. It’s a global project, that tells a Bolivian story:
Animated short-film produced in The Animation Workshop in Viborg, Denmark. By The Animation Workshop, Nicobis, Escorzo, and the Community of Bolivians Animators and is supported by the Danish Government. Animated by 8 Bolivian animators, directed by a French director, music by the Bolivian ambessador in France, composed by another French citizen, a Danish project, hepled for the production by a Mexican and German.
The blog Chai Kadai summarizes the plot of this short animate film:
The Ayoreo are the nomadic indigenous people of Eastern Bolivia. They believe in the legend of Direjná, the grandmother of a cricket whose songs can bring rain to this earth. She owned all the waters, and where she was it rained. But one day, she sang and sang in overjoy until the rain fell so hard and the lands were flooded. So, her grandchildren asked her to leave, and she retired to the second heaven. The hot, dry days of famine took over the earth. From the second heaven, Abuela Grillo (Grandmother Cricket) sends rain every time someone tells her story.
In the years 1999 to 2000, there were massive protests in Cochabomba, in Bolivia, against the privatization of municipal water supply. In 2009, eight animators from Bolivia worked with French filmmaker Denis Chapon and The Animation Workshop of Denmark, chose to retell her story. Abuela Grillo sings as she walks the lowlands and mountains in the borders of Paraguay and Bolivia. She settles in a village where she is initially welcomed. Overjoyed, she sings and sings until the valleys are flooded. The villagers get angry and chase her away.
While traveling, she is lured by the black-suited, white-collared corporate giants who promise her fame and applause. They harness the rains, bottle water and sell it to the people. Now, the villagers whose lands had plenty start to run dry. Abuela Grillo gradually grows tired of the stage shows, but realizes she cannot leave. The corporations have her in captivity. They force her to sing more and more, until they tap her tears.
The villagers come to know of Abuela Grillo’s plight and realize their mistake. They march into the city with all utility weapons they can find demanding the corporates let their grandmother go. Unfortunately, the white collars wage war against them with tear gas. Not able to stand it anymore, Abuela screams and her floods wash away the tear gas and destroys everything in the city. Free now, Abuela walks away, and is welcomed back in the village, where she sings and brings harvest all along her way.
Von Diaz, writing for the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies at NYU, explains more of the film’s background in Bolivia’s struggle over water rights:
The Abuela Grillo character is based on a myth from the Bolivian lowlands, but the film tells the story of a historic moment in Bolivian water politics. Water issues reached a boiling point in 2000 after water privatization legislation led to a significant spike in prices for Bolivian citizens. Demonstrations rocked Cochabamba in what is also known as the Cochabamba Water Wars. Though they began as peaceful protests, demonstrations quickly grew violent, leading to dozens of civilian and police injuries and casualties. Then President Hugo Banzer was forced to resign.
But of course another theme in Abuela Grillo is that is that we’ve forgotten the value of our elders. From Pimpernelle:
The grandmother as key to the community, for all the women that we take for granted because of their age. Perhaps, her purpose has become less obvious to us or maybe because we’ve relinquished her purpose, an untapped source of wealth for the community.
Seen any good cartoons lately? What are you watching on TV these days?
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