Water is one thing all mankind requires to sustain life, so when the water supply becomes extremely pricey in a South American village, the people revolt -- and are massacred -- which becomes "A Dark Truth."
Loosely based on a real-life tragedy, "A Dark Truth" is the fictionalized version of the events, as written by Damian Lee, who also directed the film. In it, former CIA operative turned political talk radio show host Jack Begosian (Andy Garcia) is hired by a corporate whistle blower to expose the water wars.
"I got lost in its story and themes of abuses in countries of the world being brought to light. It's social consciousness is very important," says Garcia of his reaction to the script.
Begosian arrives in the Latin American country and is plunged into a violent situation, with the military cracking down on a group of protestors led by Francisco Francis (Forest Whitaker) and his wife Mia (Eva Longoria). It is Begosian's task to try to rescue the Francises and bring them back to put a face on the greed and corruption that is robbing the poor of this must-needed natural resource.
In this interview, Garcia and Lee share their thoughts on the environmental thriller, "A Dark Truth," now available on DVD from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.
I know there are several charities that work in Africa to bring clean water to villages. How did the subject matter of water come to your attention?
Damian Lee: I was researching a film I am doing with the United Nations on global water problems. One of the problems we discovered on a recurring theme is the violence of water problems in South America that are ongoing today with companies like Bechtel getting involved in the privatization of substantial water concerns in South America and their exploitation of the disenfranchised and the poor for the sake of higher yields. They were buying up these water rights, so water rights were becoming more expensive for people who could barely afford a loaf of bread. It became illegal in some places for the campesinos -- the farmers -- to collect even rainwater.
We live in an industrialized nation, so at first the idea of paying for water, which we do, doesn't sound so terrible. But when it is to the point that people's survival is in jeopardy because they are not allowed to collect rainwater, it is crazy.
Damian Lee: There are seven states here in the U.S. where you are not allowed to collect rainwater. So, I said, "Wait. There is a good story here."
Is the subject of water more important or the subject of corporate greed?
Damian Lee: I think the water is more important. I think the corruption is not that important. It's the story that's been told. There's a phrase in one of Andy's films that I like a lot, "Lost City," which is "Evolution not revolution." I think our lesser angels like corruption and the tendency to victimize our fellowman is endemic to humans. We have to rise above that. We have to rise above that as best we can. Our character, Francisco Francis (Whitaker), very much is about "evolution not revolution."
It is a bumper-sticker slogan for sure. That's the thing I really believe in. If you deal with just the corruption aspect, you're not really dealing with the situation. The real situation is just the nature of mankind being unconscious as opposed to being conscious. Whereas Forest's character in the film is very conscious.
What was it about the script that appealed to you?
Andy Garcia: Thirst -- quenching my metaphor of thirst for interesting characters. Obviously, the social issue in the movie was important to be exposed, as was the concept of the journey and that Jack was challenged to help. This guy, who has lived a life that is, as he says in the movie, unforgivable and unforgettable, is trying to make amends and trying to somehow, with the years he's got left, do something right for all the wrong he's done.
I'm sure even as a CIA operative, there were plenty of things he did that he feels very proud of and were right and were just. It's not all evil. Not everything the CIA -- or any organization -- does is evil; but within the process of that, there were situations that he found himself in where later he says, "I was on the wrong side of the truth and I have blood on my hands." There are things that he feels terrible about. The fact that he's given this opportunity to make amends -- not only as he's doing through his radio show -- but you can see that he's a troubled character. He's not a bad person, but he's a troubled individual. Sometimes when you're troubled and you're carrying this guilt, or this constant thought in your mind of, "Why has my life been the way it is and where am I at?," sometimes it's hard to be accessible to other people, even your own son or your own wife. It's not that you're a bad person; sometimes, you're just not there.
So, he's presented this situation to save the Forest Whitaker character, which obviously he's reluctant to go do. But then when they say Francisco Francis, Jack realizes, "Oh, my God, that's the guy that I directly affected. That's one of my demons. I have to do this. I owe it to try to help him and also help the greater cause that he represents, which is a cause that I believe should be exposed." He has to turn into the character that he hates in order to achieve the greater good, hich is to bring Forest back. He has to become that [CIA] guy again.
In one of the scenes where he was doing his radio show, Jack also talks about freedom. On your imdb page, you have a quote that says, "Freedom is not negotiable." I don't know if you actually said it but it's on imdb.
Andy Garcia: Yes, I did. Not everything on imdb is mine, but that one is.
And Jack kind of feels that way too.
Andy Garcia: Yes.
And then he has a chance to prove it, which is how I saw him going to South America to get Francisco Francis. He went because he does believe in freedom and he was going to fight for it.
Andy Garcia: This is really deliberately set up that way. We worked on the script together for a while and like everything you do in life, you bring things to the material that you feel as you start tapping into the subconscious of the character. You personalize him and you bring things that could be parallels to the things you believe in because that also empowers your connection to the character. I don't think he says in the movie "freedom is not negotiable," but he says something to that effect.
You mentioned that he's not necessarily available to his family. Why did we need his family in the movie? His son wasn't autistic, but what was he?
Damian Lee: This is very interesting. It's very interesting you're saying that because there was a draft -- and we actually shot this -- and in testing, the audience connected with us that we had the son bordering on a degree of autism, or close to it; but autism of course can't be fixed, can't be cured. We had the child obsessing on the number 11-11 on the clock, and more so in terms of being prescient than anything else. Then when Andy was taking Forest down the street just prior to the attack, he saw a series of 11-11 signs: a clock saying 11-11, a phone number saying 11-11, and it just hit him that his son was saying, "11-11 is the time, Dad. 11-11's the time," over and over. The son's prescience actually saved his father's life, but it wasn't testing well with the audience. It was a little too esoteric. What you're divining there is interesting because that was there in the film and we backed off on that because it was a little much for people.
Andy Garcia: It is important to the character that he has a family. That he's trying to set an example for his son and to be present there but he's struggling with his own realities, his own presence and he can barely keep himself in order, let alone sometimes being available to this other greater responsibility, which is his son and his family. I think that all adds to his dilemma.