The Water Carrier (1996)

Run Time - 50 min.  |   Countries - Colombia, USA  |  
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Bernabe (Reynaldo Miravalles) is an elderly blind man who lives outside a small village in Colombia with his wife (Yolanda Garcia) and his little granddaughter, Mireya (Daisy Stella Rojas). He makes his meager living carrying water in a huge jug from nearby springs to the middle-class households of the village. The kind village doctor, Dr. Gaitan (Humberto Dorado), has offered to operate on Bernabe's cataracts, and give him the chance to see again. Bernabe's advanced age and the doctor's inexperience with the procedure make the operation somewhat risky, but Bernabe eventually decides to go forward. Dr. Gaitan performs the operation with the support of his wife, Emma (Florina Lemaitre), and Bernabe's vision is restored. At first, the old man is ecstatic that he can see his wife and granddaughter, but regaining his eyesight turns out to have an unforeseen downside. Filmmaker Patricia Cardoso, who would go on to direct the festival hit Real Women Have Curves, based the story for this film on her grandfather, Carlos A. Cardoso, who performed Columbia's first cataract operation in 1926. She completed The Water Carrier as a graduate student at UCLA. The film won a Gold Medal and the DGA Student Film Award at the 1996 Student Academy Awards, and was shown at the 1995 Sundance Film Festival.