The sound of silence dominated ArcLight Cinemas in Culver City as the LA Film Festival closed out its 22nd edition with the U.S. premiere of Jonas Cuaron‘s taut immigration  thriller “Desierto.”

“I did the film to have the audience on the edge of their seats from beginning to end,” Cuaron admitted to the audience in introducing the film.

He began working in 2008 on the story about illegal Mexican immigrants, led by Gael Garcia Bernal’s character, facing a nightmarish scenario in the desert north of the border due to a rifle-toting vigilante (played by #). He then teamed with his father Alfonso for the “Gravity” script before turning back to “Desierto.”

His father admitted that he was still struck by the contrast in terms of the amount of verbiage in each movie.

“Unlike ‘Gravity,’ which is very driven by dialogue, he decided to strip it of dialogue so it’s very visceral,” Alfonso asserted. “If there’s too much dialogue, there’s no room for poetry.”

The younger Cuaron noted that the location was essential to the movie. “I scouted deserts for two years — Almeria, Anza-Borrego, the Mojave — but southern Baja California worked best.”

STX Entertainment, which acquired the U.S. rights following its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival,  decided this week to launch the film on Oct. 14 — just three weeks before a presidential election in which Republican nominee Donald Trump has made stopping illegal immigration a cornerstone of his campaign.

Carlos Cuaron, an uncle of Jonas and a producer on the film, said on the red carpet that the election-season date makers sense. “My first reaction five years ago when I read the script was that here was an action story with a real social conscience,” he added.