When you think of the definition of Desierto an image of a lifeless sandy place comes to mind, you think a bit more and you realize that Desierto has different meanings, abandonment, emptiness, failure, uninhabited, desolate, and dull, but for many, Desierto is a passageway that will take them towards the land of opportunity. Unfortunately, many don’t make it across the arid region due to dehydration, poor health or vigilantes. Jonás and Alfonso Cuarón offer a unique modern vision of terror with their latest movie “Desierto”.
The beginning of a hopeful journey to seek a better life becomes a harrowing and primal fight for survival when a deranged, rifle-toting vigilante targets a group of unarmed men and women thought the treacherous U.S.-Mexican border. Some of them were coming home, a cruel reality of our current days.
In our conversation with the characters, Gael Garcia Bernal (Moises), Jeffrey Dean Morgan (Sam) and Jonás Cuarón (Director/Writer/Producer/Editor), all agree that this movie came at the perfect timing. Jonás felt the need to make a movie that spoke not only about migration but also the rhetoric of hatred that started 10 years ago in Arizona with the anti-migration laws. “I felt the need to make a movie that spoke about migration. I found the right way to do it inspired with the movie Duel by Spielberg, I realized it would be interesting that instead of creating a rhetorical piece that spoke about the subject matter, and instead I would create a horror experience for the audience through this journey.”
Desierto represents a cruel reality of migration, and it’s been presented at a time when the current political campaigns are emphasizing a wall, but a wall of lies and deceit built against the immigrants, as an individual and as characters Gael commented on this subject, “…to me this film depicts the nightmare of the consequences of hate, of a narrative that criminalizes the other, other group of people, that only requires one person pulling the trigger to create a massacre, and we can see the consequences of that hate speech being put in place in this movie. Therefore, what we wanted to highlight is the ridiculousness of it all! How did we get there? How did we get to this place? to create an introspection and open up a new discussion that actually talks and understands migration as a natural phenomenon, something that needs to exist in order for life to exist on earth, in order for humans to exist on earth… instead of criminalizing it we should talk about regulating and legalizing it, in a way that we don’t criminalize because we are criminalizing the wrong people, all the time. We need to develop narratives that incorporate and are more comprehensive and much more benign with our human kindness with different groups of humans…every political thing we do has an international repercussion a global repercussion, so we need to discuss this issue with more care much more compassion. It is not easy, it’s complicated, and nobody said it’s easy, but it’s definitely more ambitious, benign, it will create more goodwill and a sense of common good, than the short sighted electoral way that it’s been managed, so far not only in this country but in many countries in the world, including Mexico.”
“This movie should be classified as political horror!” – Gael
Desierto has been submitted by The Mexican Academy of Film Arts and Sciences as Mexico’s official entry for the Best Foreign Language Oscar at the upcoming Academy Awards. Jonás commented “I was very excited when the Mexican Academy selected Desierto to represent Mexico in the race to the Oscars. The movie well received in Mexico and I’m very excited because I wanted to reach as many people as possible” Gael added “It’s very exciting…there are about 75 films from all over the world that are submitted and only 5 are selected in this very competitive category. Getting nominated will create a different scene for this movie, it will be seen all over, and it already had great response in Mexico and France, and now the US.”
Jonás talks about Sam’s character played by Jeffrey, “We’ve been bombarded with so much speeches of hatred, we know very little in the movie about Sam…but with the little signs he gave us it’s clear he is in a very vulnerable situation…this reflects the vulnerable sides of society when they keep being bombarded by speeches that claim migrants are the scapegoats in a country which lacks gun control, the recipe is already there.”
We hope Desierto makes it an Oscar nominee and that the rhetorical message of the consequences of “Political Horror” is heard loud and clear across all borders.
In Theaters Today!