Toronto: Jonas Cuaron Tackles Mexican Border-Crossing in ‘Desierto’

Jonas Cuaron debuted his gripping action thriller “Desierto” at the Toronto Film Festival, about a group of Mexicans crossing the border into the U.S. In remarks to the audience at the Visa Elgin theater, Cuaron said the issue happens to be timely, “but it’s also universal,” adding that he started the script six years ago.

Gael Garcia Bernal stars as one member of the group, who are being pursued across the U.S. desert by a murderous vigilante (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) who wants to protect “my home!” The film, which was written by Cuaron and Mateo Garcia, drew big applause from the Sunday night audience, who also gave loud approval to the filmmaker and star.

At the post-screening Q&A, Garcia Bernal said immigration is “part of life. We all come from immigrants.” He said the film is “paying homage to all the people who make this journey.” It’s clear that the characters are seeking a better life, though there is no speechifying, no soapboxing about the topic in the film, which is in English and Spanish.

Cuaron said, “We view it as a problem, but it’s not a problem, it’s a phenomenon.” He added, “There’s no such thing as an ‘illegal’ human being.”

Bernal said, “Unfortunately, it is timely because there is a discourse of hate,” which he said is divisive and was begun for political reasons.

In the film, the vigilante is accompanied by a vicious German shepherd, and Garcia Bernal got a laugh from the audience when he said there were actually three dogs used in filming and they were all “so nice and easygoing.” Cuaron nodded and joked, “It was much easier to work with the dogs than the actors.”

The film, which is Cuaron’s second feature as director, also plays at the London Film Festival in October.

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Leonardo Dicaprio Once Upon a Time

    Leonardo DiCaprio's Earth Alliance Commits $5 Million to Amazon Fires

    Earth Alliance, an environmental initiative backed by Leonardo DiCaprio, has committed $5 million toward the preservation of the Amazon rain forest following an alarming surge in wildfires. After launching Sunday, the organization’s emergency Amazon Forest Fund is working to support local partners and indigenous communities in their efforts to protect the sensitive habitats within the [...]

  • (from left) Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson)

    Box Office: 'Hobbs & Shaw' Scores $102 Million Debut in China, Nears $600 Million Globally

    Universal’s “Hobbs & Shaw” returned to first place on the international box office charts, thanks to a massive $102 million debut in China. The “Fast & Furious” spinoff, starring Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham, collected another $120 million overseas, boosting its foreign tally to $441 million. “Hobbs & Shaw” is nearing the $600 million mark [...]

  • Angel Has Fallen

    Box Office: 'Angel Has Fallen' Rises to No. 1 With $21 Million Debut

    “Angel Has Fallen,” the third chapter in Lionsgate and Millenium’s action franchise starring Gerard Butler, had a stronger opening weekend than expected, collecting $21.25 million during its first three days of release. Those ticket sales were enough to top domestic box office charts, bumping last weekend’s champ, Universal’s comedy “Good Boys,” to second place. Starring [...]

  • Amanda

    ‘Amanda’ Takes Home Best Int’l Film at 15th Sanfic

    SANTIAGO, Chile    French director Mikhael Hers’ “Amanda” scooped up the Best Int’l Film award Saturday (Aug. 24) at the 15th Santiago Int’l Film Fest (Sanfic), which reported a 20% audience uptick in the past two years and continues to grow its reputation as the most vibrant and prominent film festival in Latin America’s Southern [...]

  • disney d23

    Cruella, Kit Harington and Black Panther's Return: Everything We Learned at D23 Day Two

    Not to be outdone by the avalanche of series orders and casting announcements bolstering the new streaming series Disney Plus, Walt Disney Studios showed off its film wares in a marathon presentation at D23 on Saturday. The Anaheim, Calif. expo brought star power, if perhaps fewer surprises than Friday’s presentation, as fans in princess and [...]

  • Harvey Weinstein, Katie Holmes, Taylor Swift'The

    Taylor Swift Downplays Association With Harvey Weinstein

    Taylor Swift’s association with disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein was among the topics the singer addressed in a revealing new interview with The Guardian. Weinstein held producer credits for the movies “One Chance” and “The Giver,” both of which featured Swift — in the former, a song, and in the latter, a supporting role. She [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content