London festival wades into migrant debate with 'Desierto' thriller

14th October 2015, Comments 0 comments

"Desierto", tracing the terrifying journey of a group of Mexican undocumented immigrants trying to reach the United States, is a "political movie", its director Jonas Cuaron said on Wednesday.

The Mexican director spoke to AFP as his first feature film had its European premiere at the London Film Festival on Wednesday.

"It's set in the border between Mexico and the US but I wanted to make it as universal as possible because the migration is a very universal theme," Jonas Cuaron told AFP.

"Migration is a very universal theme and it's a timely theme. Obviously right now it's more timely than usual," he added, in a reference to a migration crisis in Europe.

"Obviously it's a political movie."

The action thriller tells the story of Moises, played by Mexico's Gael Garcia Bernal as he tries to make it across the border to join his son in the US.

His group ends up in the crosshairs of self-appointed anti-immigration vigilante Sam, played by US actor Jeffrey Dean Morgan.

Using a chase movie format was "a way to engage a wider audience" in considering migration, Cuaron told AFP.

The vigilante Sam, is actually "a very vulnerable character", the director said.

"I think that a lot of the problem around the racism that happen in the US, that it's people that are already in a vulnerable situation," Cuaron said.

"When they get confronted with a racist discourse through politicians and through media, they're already in a vulnerable state and that pushes them to cross the line."

Cuaron, 34, is the son of Alfonso Cuaron, director of the 2013 science fiction thriller "Gravity". The two have a history of working together, with Jonas co-writing "Gravity" and Alfonso co-producing "Desierto".

Alfonso, who joined his son in London for the European premiere, said the film was original in the way that it reversed typical Hollywood roles.

"The conventional way is to see a vulnerable American being chased by a bunch of Talibans and the interesting thing is that's very well accepted," Alfonso Cuaron told AFP.

"And now we're changing the chairs, in the sense that, well, this is the migrant and actually he's being chased by an American vigilante."

© 2015 AFP

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