Oscars: Mexico Selects 'Desierto' for Foreign-Language Category

Desierto Still - H 2015
Courtesy of Toronto International Film Festival

The film stars Gael Garcia Bernal as a Mexican migrant worker who's being hunted down by a U.S. vigilante in the desert.

Jonas Cuaron, son of Alfonso Cuaron, hopes his immigration thriller can pull off what no other Mexican movie has yet to accomplish: bring home an Oscar for best foreign-language picture.

The Mexican Academy of Film Arts and Sciences on Wednesday announced that it has submitted Desierto (Desert), Cuaron's sophomore feature starring Gael Garcia Bernal (Mozart in the Jungle) opposite Jeffrey Dean Morgan (The Walking Dead). STX Entertainment plans to release the film in the U.S. on Oct. 14.

Since the mid-1950s, Mexico has received eight Academy Award nominations in the category, but has never won. The most recent Mexican films to land Oscar nominations were Alejandro G. Inarritu's drama Biutiful in 2010 and Guillermo del Toro's dark fantasy Pan's Labyrinth in 2006.

Cuaron co-wrote the award-winning space thriller Gravity with his father. Up next, he will reteam with Garcia Bernal for Z, a futuristic reboot of Zorro.

Desierto, winner of the international critics' FIPRESCI prize at Toronto last year, has received mixed reviews.

Producer credits on the film include Academy Award winner Alfonso Cuaron, Garcia Bernal, Mexican financier Alex Garcia and Participant Media's David Linde.

In Mexico, the film's trailer ran with an anti-immigrant voiceover from you guessed it, Donald Trump. The trailer shows Morgan's character shooting and killing migrant workers one by one as excerpts taken from a Trump speech refer to undocumented workers as rapists and criminals.  

The Mexican Film Academy also announced that it will submit David Pablos' Las Elegidas (The Chosen One), a drama about teen prostitution, to vie for best foreign picture at Spain's 31st Goya Awards.