A Mexican hick with only a dream to go on wends his way to Oregon in Sebastian Hiriart’s debut feature, “A Stone Throw Away.” Well made on a shoestring, the pic says nothing new about the illegal-immigrant experience, though the current debate on the topic could offer platforms for exploitation. Still, given the large number of well-worn situations here, Hiriart needs to engage more thoughtfully with the question: Is a cliche still valid film fodder when it reflects the truth? While programmers throw that one about, “A Stone” is likely to roll around south-of-the-border sidebars.Shepherd Jacinto (Gabino Rodriguez, “Perpetuum Mobile”) is bored with herding goats in the arid scrub of central San Luis Potosi state. He finds an incongruous 4-H Club Oregon keychain and takes it as a sign that his dream, of uncovering treasure in a snowbound forest, will come true. Stealing money from his sympathetic uncle, Jacinto embarks on the journey north; he gets robbed, enjoys the company of a kind-hearted prostitute and encounters the usual assortment of well-meaning folk and scam artists. Good framing and solid lensing, plus Rodriguez’s thesping strengths, hold interest.
A Galopando Cine production, in collaboration with Verde Espina Studios. Produced by Ximena Hiriart, Sebastian Hiriart. Directed by Sebastian Hiriart. Screenplay, Gabino Rodriguez, Sebastian Hiriart.
Camera (color, HD-to-35mm), Hiriart; editor, Pedro G. Garcia; music, Emiliano Motta, Emiliano Gonzalez de Leon. Reviewed at San Sebastian Film Festival (Latin Horizons), Sept. 19, 2010. Running time: 94 MIN.
Gabino Rodriguez, Monserrat Angeles, Rogelio Medina, Alejandra Espana, Julian Silva, Randy Watkins, Janice Reese. (Spanish, English dialogue)