I watched „Desierto” mainly because of its director: Jonás Cuarón, the main actor: Gael García Bernal and my admiration for the mexican cinema. After watching it I asked myself the following question: dear Mexico, why? What happened that even though you have everything, your own people need to leave this country? Because you don’t offer them anything? Until now, I haven’t met any Mexican who wouldn’t like their own country, who wouldn’t celebrate the Mexican independence on the 15th of September and who wouldn’t complain about lack of good tacos abroad or who wouldn’t have some typical Mexican decoration at home. I just haven’t met a Mexican who wouldn’t say: I’m proud of my country.
Yet, there are many reasons for emigration and this movie shows the saddest one: emigration because of the lack of opportunities, poverty and lack of future in a home country. A group of Mexicans risk their life and try to cross illegaly the border between Mexico and USA. It doesn’t only show the worse reason for emigration but also the worse image of racism as the group encounters a US citizen who decides to stop them in a drastic way. It makes you wonder if it’s possible that these events could have been true. And you hope that they weren’t. That such hate towards other nation doesn’t exist, no matter whether it’s USA or Mexico or any other country. It makes you think of poverty and inequality: why some people are forced to emigrate and leave their family although they even don’t want to do that. You even don’t think that it’s illegal so actually we should be on the side of the crazy US citizen. Emigration, in less dramatic way, refers also to my home country, Poland. No one needed to cross a border illegaly and risk one’s life but a lot of people were forced to leave family and move to Great Britain or Germany in order to earn money. I’ll never forget a situation I saw once at the airport: a whole plane of Poles coming from London. Among them a young woman who bursts in tears because of seeing two small children. She starts hugging the children who were maybe 6 or 8 years old and were just overwhelmed with this situation. Love for a child is also the main reason why Desierto’s main character, Moises as his child leaves in the USA and crossing the border is the only way theses two can meet again.
Desierto was chosen by Mexico to represent it at the 89th Academy Awards in the category of the Best Foreign Language Film but it didn’t get the nomination. In Mexico itself, it was nominated for Ariel awards in nine categories. It didn’t win in any of them. The movie generally didn’t get the attention it should get. Jonás Cuarón created a suspensful movie but even not his or Bernal’s name helped to promote it. Apart from the USA and of course Mexico, it was released only in 6 other countries: France (as it co-produced the movie) Colombia, Spain, South Africa, South Korea and United Arab Emirates. The last three are especially interesting. The box office results covered only production costs, leaving basically no profit. In Germany itself, the movie had only special screenings in the cinemas and was released directly on the DVD format. Depending on how one thinks about it, it was quite a good achievement taking into account how many Mexican movies do not get any cover abroad. But for an inspiring filmmaker who co-wroted Gravity, it was definitely a flop. Maybe the problem was the topic itself. It was too offensive for screening it in the USA, because of the main character: racist citizen of USA. The topic of crossing border between Mexico and the USA could be interesting for the Mexicans itself but they also didn’t rush to the cinemas. Not to mention not rewarding it with the Mexican awards for filmmakers. The rating? Rated as R movie and definitely having some drastic scenes, it wasn’t a movie for everyone.
Although Alfonso Cuarón was involved in the production of Desierto, it was his son who directed the movie. Sadly, by watching Desierto it’s impossible to not compare young Cuarón with his father, and no matter how couragous the movie was, it wasn’t so interesting like his father’s works. Hopefully, we do get a chance to see another work of Jonas Cuarón soon.