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CineMunn Podcast is back with another new show! Vince Munn, Tommy Metropoulos and Benjamin Briggs invited me and Film Brat to join them on their podcast. We talked inspirations, favorite interviews and Oscar season thoughts. This is their longest show and funniest so please tune in and while your there...subscribe to these boys and give them some film love!!

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Jeri Jacquin

This week in theatres Summit Entertainment brings director Peter Berg’s film about the PB oil disaster and the courage of those aboard DEEPWATER HORIZON.

In April of 2010, a drilling rig known as DEEPWATER HORIZON owned by BP oil was a floating rig that could travel to any spot for drilling. Mike Williams (Mark Wahlberg) boarding the rig along with Jimmy Harrell (Kurt Russell), and Andrea Fleytas (Gina Rodriguez). 

With questions already looming about the readiness of the rig, Harrell has questions for the execs already on board. Already in conference are Vidrine (John Malkovich) and Jimmy calls them out on the inspection that seems to have been bypassed. Mike isn’t happy asking Caleb Holloway (Dylan O’Brien) who is working the pipes if the inspection has been done. 

Agreeing to a pressure test, everyone on the rig waits as the first test fails. It is Vidrine who consistently tries to out-talk the crew on what BP is expecting from the rig and there is nothing wrong. Nothing could be further from the truth when later in the evening the earth decides to revolt against the rig. 

The explosion brings out courage of the many to save lives!

Director Peter Berg has taken the story of Deepwater Horizon and made it into a film that tells the story bringing Mike Williams to the forefront as a hero. This isn’t the first film Berg has brought to the screen with an intense story about courageous individuals. In 2013 he directed the film LONE SURVIVOR about Marcus Luttrell (played by Mark Wahlberg) and his team on a mission to capture a Taliban leader. In 2017 has the film PATRIOTS DAY will be released about the Boston Marathon bombing and the city-wide manhunt for the terrorists.

I had the pleasure of speaking with Peter Berg about DEEPWATER HORIZON and what pushes him to tell stories of extraordinary people and events. 

JJ: Thanks for talking with me today Peter.

PB: Of course Jeri, it’s my pleasure.

JJ: Tell me what interested you in wanting to take on this project?

PB: There was a 60 Minutes piece about Mike Williams and it really just got to me. I thought it was a great story and it spoke to me. 

JJ: Did you realize the monumental scope of the making this film when you decided to go ahead and make the film?

PB: I did, I knew it was going to be a challenging movie and I felt absolutely ready for it. I was actually really excited to get involved and get it going.

JJ: Did you already have a cast in mind?

PB: Mark [Wahlberg] was already to go and we knew each other which was obviously part of the reason I was excited about the film.

JJ: He and Kurt Russell together are so fantastic and amazing in the film. Was Kurt some one else you knew right away needed to be in the film?

PB: Not right away but pretty quickly I thought of Kurt. I am a really big fan of his.

JJ: John Malkovich as well? I know I’m a huge fan.

PB: Absolutely, same here, I am a big fan of his work as well.

JJ: He is so amazing, his accent is pretty good.

PB: Perfect right?

JJ: Building the set, it must have caused a little bit of a shock to put together something so spectacular?

PB: It was fun! 

JJ: Really?

PB: Yes, because we got to big a real big set. We got to be kids with Lincoln Logs but bigger!

JJ: That’s a pretty massive Lincoln Log Peter.

PB: Yes it was. It was a massive Lincoln Log and fun to do at the same time.

JJ: I was surprised to see you in it as well, which is a nice bonus.

PB: Thank you, it was actually fun to do it.

JJ: You took on the film and started putting it all together, did you see it was going so big. I mean you have your human characters but now you have this big other character (the rig) to control. How did you manage the double duty?

PB: It was fun too. Making movies is always super challenging and for me it is getting myself fired up and getting excited for those challenges. The set was a big challenge and executing it in New Orleans with the heat and the water and you have to be up for it. As long as you are I find it all works out pretty well.

JJ: The storyline is so intense and you didn’t sugar coat anything?

PB: My grandmother Ruth said ‘shoot straight and don’t sugar coat’.

JJ: I was wondering how you were going to get around the BP situation and thank you for being straight with the story telling.

PB: BP messed up big time and you have got to be accurate with the facts if you are going to point the finger at some of BP’s behavior.

JJ: The scene with Russell and Malkovich when they are doing the pressure test, I have to say their interaction felt so brutally honest.

PB: I appreciate that. My grandmother also said honest is the best policy so I went with that. 

JJ: I think that is what makes this film bigger than just the action, that you were telling the story honesty. Now, dealing with all that mud and oil, how did you make that happen?

PB: We had this guy name Burt Dalton who is a physical production designer for films and he brought in all these gallons of mud and oil and this incredible pumping system. He was able to get heavy pressure and throw that mud around. I had my son and his friends from high school on summer break and made them clean it all up.

JJ: Excellent! 

PB: It’s true!

JJ: It looks like the cast took a beating. You’ve got fire, mud, falling metal, water – that’s pretty intense. How long did it take you to shoot the film?

PB: It was done in sixty days or around that. It didn’t take as long as you might think, we moved pretty quickly.

JJ: Working with such Malkovich, Russell and Wahlberg who you have worked with before. How is that for you as a director to look at that cast and think ‘wow’.

PB: I look at everything and say wow! I like my cast, crew, getting to meet Mike Williams and the men and women who were on that rig. It is all a process that I like very much and I’m very grateful to have participated in all of it.

JJ: I’ve seen interviews with Mike Williams, what an amazing person.

PB: I’ll say.

JJ: You seem to really enjoy doing films working with amazing people.

PB: I like non-fiction and I’m at a point in my life where I meet people who have gone through extraordinary experiences like Mike Williams and Marcus Luttrell (from the film LONE SURVIVOR) or some of the FBI agents, police and citizens of Boston (coming soon PATRIOTS DAY) who were involved in the hunting down of those who hurt people in the Boston Marathon, those are the stories that excite me. 

JJ: It gives you an opportunity tell those truths.

PB: It gives me so much inspiration. You spend time with the people who went through it and obviously it’s a more authentic experience and gives me access to that part of the process that inspires me. Every director is different and some like science fiction, I like non-fiction. 

JJ: Finally Peter, what do you want the audience to walk out of the theatre understanding about DEEPWATER HORIZON?

PB: There is never any one thing. I think certainly one of the things that resonates with me is that there were eleven people who died on that rig because of corporate bullying. They could have all run and jumped into life boats and they all would have been back with their kids. They did their jobs when a lot of other people like the executives who got off that rig. These working class men stayed on that rig and they died, it cost them their lives. To me that is worth knowing.

JJ: That means everything, thank you Peter. In DEEPWATER HORIZON Peter, it is nothing like I expected yet everything I want in good and true storytelling well done sir!

PB: Thank you Jeri, thank you so much.

Once again Director Peter Berg brings a true story to the screen and does it in a big way. From set design to casting, everything about the film is big. That being said, that is only a fraction of a moment thought compared to the truly amazing story that is told shooting straight from the hip.  

Not only did Berg tell the story of DEEPWATER HORIZON, but he took the time to explain it all. The performances of Wahlberg, Russell and the rest of the cast is so well done that it kept myself, as well as the screening audience totally engrossed from start to finish. This is an epic movie going experience!

In the end – inspired by the true story of real life heroes!

Director Peter Berg Talks About Film DEEPWATER HORIZON 

Jeri Jacquin

It’s that time of year again at the FOOD NETWORK brings the creepy and delicious together with the Halloween Baking Championship! 

Beginning Monday, October 3rd at 9 p.m. ET/PT, a new season begins as seven terrifyingly-talented bakers come together to create the spookiest and creative works of art for judges Damiano Carrara, Carla Hall and Sandra Lee. The five week competition will be hosted by funny man Jeff Dunham and his friend Walter.

In these five weeks bakers will be asked to take on tough challenges from bite-size creations to desserts with trick-or-treat candies and ghostly graveyards. Finally, the last three bakers still in the competition will design, bake and decorate a haunted “gingerdead” house (and I’m so going to be watching for that!).

The win is big as the Halloween Baking Champion will receive the hair raising $25,000 grand prize!

I had the complete joy of speaking with Veronica Von Borstel this morning about what made her take on the challenge, the experience and this amazing lady’s future!

Jeri Jacquin: Hi Veronica!

VVB: Good morning Jeri, how are you

JJ: I’m great thanks and how are you.

VVB: I’m super excited, thank you for taking the time to hang out with me this morning.

JJ: Actually that’s my line to you and I’m also excited to be talking with you. I have gotten into watching bakers create such amazing things on the FOOD NETWORK so I am thrilled that you would talk to me. So tell me what made you decide to get involved with the competition?

VVB: I have been in this industry about eighteen years at this point and I’ve done a bunch of things across the board in different spectrums - from moms & pops to fine dining. I’ve always kind of avoided television and a good friend of mine and mentor Chef Kerry Simon passed last year and I was thinking ‘what would Kerry do?’ This opportunity was presented to me and this man lived every moment to the fullest. He was the hardest working person I knew. So I really remember him doing his first pilot when Iron Chef America came over from Japan and when I found out the company produced the same show I knew I would be in good hands. I was really excited to apply and try to be on the show.

JJ: When you were chosen, what kind of instant pressure what that?

VVB: Don’t mess it up! San Diego is my hometown and I have a lot of love for this area and it means a lot to me to represent San Diego. You see all these shows and you know they are under such difficult time restraints and I just really wanted to do a good job representing the wonderful culture and people we have here.

JJ: Especially since you are doing Halloween.

VVB: Yes! San Diego loves Halloween and we are right next to the border and as a border community we have a lot of Latin American influences. Dia de los Muertos is involved a lot and with Old Town San Diego really celebrating the culture in a big way is important in being able to showcase that on national television. This showcases to other areas of the country that may not have a large Latino population and that is super important to me in sharing our culture with them. 

JJ: Did you have a chance to plan out the things you were going to do?

VVB: In about thirty seconds! They tell you what the challenge is and you have a minute to think of it.

JJ: I always wondered if you were given a little bit of time to think of something or how that worked.

VVB: Totally not! You are sitting there panicking racking your brain thinking of what it could be. They decorate the whole set so you try and gather clues as to what it might be. They are so great at their job that they twist and turn throughout the show keeping you on your toes.

JJ: I couldn’t handle that pressure.

VVB: It’s very stressful but fun. They try to make it fun for contestants which I think is really cool. They love their jobs and you can tell they love their jobs because it comes out in the finished product. 

JJ: When you are putting your creation together and time goes by, do you catch yourself looking at what the other contestants are putting together?

VVB: I did a little bit, and then it started freaking me out. We had the opportunity to get to know each other more and hang out in the green room. Once you start hearing the other people’s resumes and backgrounds and experiences, you are thinking ‘oh shoot!’ These are people they have brought in from all over the country. They are amazing and strong competitors so if you look at their work you are going to be insecure about what you are doing for yourself. Really, at the end of the day, you can only compete against yourself. It was about keeping my head down and making the best use of the time and really trying to do my personal best. That’s all you really can do and hope the judges like it. 

JJ: I know you can’t tell us too much about the competition but I have to ask; you are in front of these judges with your work, that has to be an emotional roller coaster?

VVB: It totally is! Having Jeff Dunham hosting who is an incredibly sweet, kind person and it’s nice because you have him there to defuse the stress of the situation. He helped keep us at ease, laugh and remember to lighten up because it was really tough. Then you have Damiano Carrara who probably the newest personality on the Food Network and has done a lot of the competition shows. He is a really sweet guy but tough though with very high standards so he has more of a European palate which is less sweet and more fruits and nuts. Then there is Sandra Lee who is one of the founding personalities of the Food Network and she has done it all and seen it all. She has more of a sweet, more traditional American flavor side. Then you have Carla Hall who is just extremely wonderfully talented and has also been on these shows and is front the South. Carla has a midrange of sweetness between Damiano and Sandra. Now you have three people with very different palates in a very specific spectrum so it’s tough thinking that Damiano isn’t going to like it if I use too much sugar and Sandra isn’t going to like it if I don’t use enough and Carla might want a little more salt. It’s a balancing act for sure.

JJ: When you were making your creations, especially with Halloween since there are so many directions you can go because it’s no longer just about pumpkins and witches, are you thrilled that you get to stretch your imagination? I mean we are in zombie mode right now; everybody loves a good zombie right?

VVB: Yes, I think that’s what is really great about this. I received my undergraduate degree in Fine Arts and so it was a little tough for me because I deal in things that are really very precise. I like being able to take my time and use my artistic background but I love the creative freedom that pastry gives you. You don’t get that in a lot of jobs. At the end of the day you execute the best you can and at least for me I kept true to the nature of my work by trying to keep that refinement and precision that I really enjoy having. It’s a challenge.

JJ: When you said you were precise my brain clicked thinking this had to be tough for you with time constraints and precision. 

VVB: You always wish you had ten more minutes and you think ‘if I had ten more minutes I could do this or I could have done that’. I think when you’re a perfectionist it always nags you to think you could have done better.

JJ: And you are with other bakers who are thinking the exact same thing.

VVB: Yes, definitely. We all get into the green room and all of us go over how we could have done this or that.

JJ: Isn’t it nice that you can go into a room with your competitors and even though it’s a competition you get to talk with other bakers?

VVB: Honestly, that was the biggest take-away for me in this competition. I work for myself and a lot of time it’s isolating because I’m making art and it’s a solitary process. I don’t really get a chance to interact with people who also do this for a living. It was nice to meet people who are on the same level and experience the same struggles. We are not only artists but business people. It was nice to share how to stay motivated being your own boss and have your own business and doing bookkeeping – all the things that you don’t get to talk to people about. Now I have this wonderful support group and we talk all the time. 

JJ: So this is baking and coming together!

VVB: We are already planning a reunion and what to do next as friends.

JJ: Tell me about your place and what you are doing and creating with your business?

VVB: I have had my own business since 2007 after being in the industry for quite some time. It has been interesting to see it evolve into different things. I think a big turning point for me was about three years ago when I realized I could only get through the day with the knowledge that I had. So I returned to San Diego State which is where I did my undergrad and am now pursuing an MBA degree. It has been wonderful and I graduate in December and I’m very excited to see the way I can apply all the things that I learned to my business and take it to the next level. Oprah and Martha Stewart are ladies that inspire me and you have to have the tools to get to that point. Through what I’ve learned at San Diego State I have been able to gain those tools as well as a network of really qualified people. I’m super excited to collaborate with all of them. I’m currently working on a book called Sugar Mama which is trying to save all of the heritage recipes that have been passed down through the generations. You know that sometimes grandma has passed on and she never wrote anything down or there are index cards in the back of folders somewhere. These are recipes that have made America what it is today. So I want to preserve them and make them easier for people today to use in the kitchen as well as candy making techniques from all over the world.

JJ: I want that book! My daughter and I around the holidays go on the internet and try to find a recipe for something we haven’t made before. I’m not saying we are always successful but we try.

VVB: What a wonderful bonding experience. That’s a tradition that keeps families together and can be passed down. It’s spending time with the family and not attached to electronics and – you get to eat it! You can’t beat that.

JJ: I do appreciate you speaking with me this morning and watch the show to see you and your creations.

VVB: Thank you too. I’m from San Diego and the military is a very large presence and I appreciate and respect all of our service members for their dedication. Their families as well because I know it is tough. I have a lot of friends in the service and I’m so very proud of them all!

I can not wait to see Veronica on the Food Network’s Halloween Baking Championship this Monday at 9 p.m. ET/PT. Her can-do spirit is truly inspirational and her dedication to baking up amazing creations has me in the fan club!

So San Diego, tune in and join me in cheering on Veronica starting Monday on Food Network!

HIDDEN FIGURES Tells the True Story of the Women of NASA:
Speaking with Director Ted Melfi

Jeri Jacquin

Coming to theatres later this year from 20th Century Fox from director Ted Melfi is a film from the book by writer Margot Lee Shetterly telling the true story of the exceptional women of NASA who were HIDDEN FIGURES.

It is the 1960’s and the United States is racing Russia in an attempt to put a man into space. Looking at every possible way to make that happen, three women are about to shake things up. Taraji P. Henson is Katherine Johnson, Octavia Spencer is Dorothy Vaughn and Janelle Monae is Mary Jackson and these women take the task of putting astronaut John Glen into orbit.

With minds that are akin to human computers with their skills in mathematics and engineering, this isn’t the only thing they will accomplish. Crossing gender, race and professional lines, these three women left their mark in history and now we will all know them too!

At the San Diego International Film Festival, Melfi brought the story to a panel discussion with first look footage. It was an opportunity for the audience to hear the director speak about the story and how the film came into being.

Melfi was also responsible for the screenplay along with Allison Schroeder. This isn’t the first time he has taken on that dual role as he also wrote and directed Bill Murray and Melissa McCarthy in the 2014 brilliant ST. VINCENT. I had the pleasure of speaking with director Ted Melfi about HIDDEN FIGURES and what it took to bring that piece of history to the silver screen.

JJ: Good morning Ted, thank you so much for speaking with me today about your film.

TM: You are so welcome Jeri.

JJ: I had never heard this story before, what inspired you to become involved?

TM: When I first read the proposal by producer Donna Gigliotti and had the same reaction as everyone else of ‘How is this possible? There is no way this is a true story.’ I started to dig into it and understand that it was a true story of how NASA had a team of women putting our guys up into space I was floored. I mean I have two daughters and they are still being told in this day and age ‘don’t worry about learning the math’. I find that shocking especially since we are trying to lift them up and show them that they can do anything a man can. This story inspired me and there way no way I could say no too making this film.  

JJ: Especially since it is part of history, a lot of girls were told even when I was younger that math wasn’t important to learn.

TM: It is a shame that we minimized women in Science, Math and Engineering and the truth is they are as good if not more so having the mind for it. 

JJ: I think maybe a little more patience too.

TM: Yes!

JJ: When choosing the cast, what drew you to these three women in particular?

TM: I have been in love with Taraji P. Henson’s work ever since the film BENJAMIN BUTTON and in that film she blew me away. My wife and I saw it together and said ‘who is that actress?’ that was playing Brad Pitt’s mother in the film. I was blown away by her passion, strength and raw power and honestly. Then you watch her in the role of Cookie in the television series Empire and that woman from BEJAMIN BUTTON was now Cookie in Empire. I knew that she had this incredible range in her and I knew she would be the perfect off-beat choice of Katherine Johnson. I wanted to go for it and she was so inspired by the challenge and took it on. She is absolutely amazing and inspiring in this role.

JJ: And Octavia Spencer?

TM: Octavia, I mean there is nothing that I can say enough about her as Dorothy Vaughn.

JJ: I was actually thinking the same thing. I mean what more can you say about her?

TM: I know, Octavia could play absolutely anything you could throw at her and it would be fantastic. She is one of the greatest actresses of our time in my mind. That one was a no brainer. Janelle Monae playing Mary Jackson and we wanted someone different, unique and exciting for this character. Janelle is exciting and passionate and wild and inspired and takes dramatic turns. She always makes wild choices with her work and it shows in this performance as well. 

JJ: It’s the beautiful trio to be sure.

TM: Yes, Taraji brings the quiet introverted brain of the group. Octavia is the foreman and the maternal leader of the group and Mary is the wild child who always has to be reminded that it’s 1961.

JJ: You have Kevin Costner in the mix who seems to be the buffer.

TM: Kevin Costner is one of the most unique men I’ve ever met in my life. He brings that integrity and worth ethic into every thing he does. His character, Al Harrison, represents the glue that kind of holds the teetering space program together. He balances the science and the math along with the business and imaginative people. Back in 1961 in the Jim Crow south is dealing with racial tensions in the workplace. It’s not that he is unaware of what is happening as much as he doesn’t care. He is about the mission. In his mind the mission and the math of what they are trying to do trumps race and sex of a person. 

JJ: I hope that people get that there are so many issues in this film, not just one specific issue. How was that for you as a director covering it all?

TM: It was exciting to be honest with you. To me the 1960s was an explosive time in history. The space race was happening, the Cold War was happening, Civil Rights issue were happening, the Kennedy assassination was happening, Martin Luther King assassination was happening…

JJ: See, that’s what I mean, so many, many issues!

TM: They are all running parallel to each other as well. The Freedom Riders bus protested to Washington D.C. the day before Alan Shepard launched his first mission into space. That should tell you the parallels between these two races and how they basically started to achieve success together in tandem is mind boggling. To pack all of this in one movie was an enjoyable task and to be able to get to say something about who we were and who we are and what we can become as a country when we work together.

JJ: Did you find that you had to do a lot of your own research to allow yourself to get deeper into the film?

TM: Oh yes, I did endless research. I researched every detail of the movie. I dug into a mass amount of books and documentaries about all of this. The Discovery Channel had a series When We Left Earth: The NASA Missions (2008) and I dug as deeply into Civil Rights as I did NASA. I re-watched the PBS series Eyes on the Prize [A documentary that documents the Civil Rights Movement from 1952 to 1965] about how it all occurred. I did tons of photo research as well. In regards to the math I learned everything from the ground up from like trajectory calculations etc. I kind of became a dangerous expert of it all. 

JJ: When you are talking about the mathematical side of it, how did Taraji handle it? I mean she’s writing equations on the board so fast!

TM: Taraji being the mathematician consulted with the same person I did from Rudy Home who received his PhD. out of Morehouse College. He trained Taraji and she memorized the math having so much time with him. Taraji might actually be a genius on her own. What she can do I have not seen that often, memorize something and understand it in a very short period of time. She did it effectively and efficiently in one take.

JJ: I realize there is so much in this film to experience but as the director what would you want viewers to take with them after watching the film?

TM: See the film to be reminded of how great American has always been and how when we work together, regardless of race, sex or creed, there is nothing that this country can not achieve together.

JJ: It’s so very well said and very true, thank you Ted!

This director has a straight vision for this film and with an absolutely stellar cast that also includes Kirsten Dunst, Jim Parsons, Mahershala Ali, Aldis Hodge, Glen Powell, Kimberly Quinn and Olek Krupa, HIDDEN FIGURES is a part of history that will be amazing to watch.

HIDDEN FIGURES – meet the women you don’t know behind the mission you do!

Director Ted Melfi

Bernie Wallace
Fred Ramirez

BANSHEE is on its way!

Alicia Glass
Ronald Oliver

THE WAILING is on its way!
Interested in a signed copy of DOCTOR THRONE? How about a signed copy from the amazing Julian Fellowes? Yes, I thought that would get your attention! Email with DOCTOR THORNE in the subject line and PLEASE add your mailing address and we will draw winners at random. This is one worth waiting for!
HBO's critically acclaimed series LOOKING: The Complete Series is coming to Bluray and here is your chance to own a copy of your own. Email with LOOKING in the subject line along with your mailing address (please don't forget that) and we will choose a winner at random! 
DESIERTO: Speaking with Director Jonás Cuarón

Jeri Jacquin

In theatres this week from writer/director Jonás Cuarón along with Mateo Garcia and STX Entertainment is a film that opens a bigger dialogue regarding those who put their lives at risk in the DESIERTO.

The film tells the story of a group of people trying to cross into the United States led by their coyote. When the truck that is their transportation breaks down, the group has no choice but to begin the long walk to the United States/Mexican border. Warned to stay together, they will face the toughest terrain.

What they don’t count on is Sam (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), an angry man with a rifle and gun who doesn’t like immigrants crossing his land. When he sees a group crossing, Sam doesn’t hesitate to open fire on them.

Not realizing that Moises (Gael García Bernal) and Adela (Alondra Hidalgo) with others have fallen behind, they witness everything. They might have escaped Sam’s wrath if not for his dog who alerts the gunman to their presence.

Now survival takes on a whole new meaning!

I had the opportunity to speak with director and if that name seems a bit familiar well it should. He is the son of GRAVITY director Alfonso Cuarón, the 2014 Oscar Winner for Best Director and wrote the screenplay with his father. 

What most don’t know is that was working on the script for DESIERTO at the same time! Here is the interview discussing the reason behind the film and the choices he made in every aspect of the film.

Jeri Jacquin: Thank you for talking with me today Jonás.

Jonás Cuarón: Oh you are very welcome Jeri, thank you as well.

JJ: What drove you to put this movie together?

JC: It started around 10 years ago when I had already been living in the United States quite some time. I was traveling through Arizona and there were a lot of anti-immigration laws being promoted then. There was this really strong rhetoric going on with hatred toward migrants and foreigners. As a Mexican growing up in the United States, what I truly admired about living here is the cultural diversity. I felt it was something I wanted to talk about and it wasn’t until a few years later that I had the chance to finally write about it for the film. I wanted to do it in this genre with horror because it would connect with audiences in a way they are not use to, connecting in a more visceral way. 

JJ: Working with Mateo Garcia and writing this together, where the ideas in the way to tell the story about the same?

JC: What happened was that I wrote a first draft and showed it to my father [Alfonso Cuarón] and he would make notes for me. When my Dad read it, instead of giving me criticism he said, “I want to make something like this!” He became very intrigued with the idea of an action movie that had very little dialogue and characters but ended up telling a bigger story. When we started putting that concept towards space we started working on GRAVITY. At the time I was invested in GRAVITY but also wanted to work on DESIERTO and I approached Mateo, my cousin, and I admire him as a writer. From then on while I was half of the day working with my Dad on GRAVITY, the other half of the day I was working with Mateo. In that sense it was an interesting back and forth.

JJ: I was going to say that had to be a challenge for you working on the vastness space with GRAVITY while working on the vastness of the desert for DESIERTO.

JC: I always find it very interesting that they both sprang from the same concept and have that as far as similarities but at the same time because the context are so different the stories became completely different. I thought GRAVITY was more of an allegory for the existential issues and DESIERTO is down to earth. Being in the desert specifically between the United States and Mexico it had geo-political undertones.

JJ: I have been out in that section going to Yuma, Arizona and there is that very long section of nothingness. That can be very frightening to look at let alone be out in the middle of.

JC: Definitely, the desert is one of the hottest landscapes I’ve ever been in and even during the shoot and we were lucky to have water and shade. I thought to myself that people really get lost in this landscape. Now that you mention Yuma, ten years ago when I was in Arizona, one of the things that really touched me was a book I found called The Devil’s Highway. It narrates the story of the Yuma 14 which is a case of a group of Mexican that the human traffickers abandoned. I think there was only one survivor of that group who reached Yuma, Arizona. That is the horrifying thing. Obviously I have never read of a Minuteman doing the things like you see in the film, it is just more a metaphor of what hatred can do to a person. Humans die every day in that desert which is why I called the film DESIERTO.

JJ: Tell me about the casting of Gael García Bernal and Jeffrey Dean Morgan. What was it about these two actors that you knew you were seeing Moises and Sam?

JC: As I was writing the script I knew I wanted to work with Gael. I grew up watching his career and admired what he was doing and wanted to work with him. When I did my research and started studying the issue of migration, I noticed that Gael had done a lot of documentaries either as a director, producer or actor in the pieces. He took a journey with a group of migrants all the way from Central American through Mexico to the United States. I knew Gael had a closeness with the subject matter that I knew was going to be very helpful for the film. With Jeffrey, when I started looking for the guy to play the villain I was immediately intrigued by him. He is a big scary guy but on the other side of him he is very charming! Now there is this contradiction that I found interesting. I didn’t wanted Jeffrey’s character to be human, not just a two dimensional bad guy. I was already intrigued but when he came to the meeting I saw he drove a pick up truck and he has tattoos. I mean the ones you see in the film are really his own. During our first meeting he talked to me about his dogs so in that sense he was ready to play that character.

JJ: Also, Alondra Hidalgo as Adela, she carries fear on her face that is so believable.

JC: Adela’s is one of my favorites in the film because I was able to touch on a lot of issues with the character. I really wanted to find a new face, a face that would show the hardship women go through. There is this violence that they live through when they go through the journey, it’s horrific. I saw a casting of Alondra and I knew immediately it was her.

JJ: You brought the right people into a film that does provide a touchy subject matter especially during an election year. Instead you managed to humanize the film.

JC: Thank you, when I started this project ten years ago with Mateo it was to just create a story. I didn’t think back then that one of the criticisms it would face when it came out was that people would say it was a far fetched situation. Now, after ten years and everything that’s happened, I have to wonder how far fetched the scenario truly is.

JJ: Congratulations sir on a job well done, the casting is well done and the cinematography takes the viewer along. The scene where Gael is standing on the hill looking down at cactus and sand to the nothing that went for as far as the eye can see – it was relatable to anyone who has been in the desert themselves.

JC: Thank you Jeri, that means a lot to me and I’m glad you enjoyed the film.

It is not hard to become wrapped up in the storyline when Gael García Bernal and Jeffrey Dean Morgan both deal with their characters demons to a conclusion that will leave everyone talking. DESIERTO won the International Critics’ Award at the Toronto Film Festival and was nominated for Best Film by the London Film Festival.

DESIERTO is gripping, horrifying, and raw bringing out the primal instinct to survive! 

Director Jonás Cuarón
When three Moms are overworked and under-appreciated they decide that a little “me time” is in order. Mila Kunis, Kathryn Hahn and Kristen Bell take matters into their own hands in directors Jon Lucas and Scott Moore’s take on comedy with BAD MOMS.

Coming to Bluray Combo Pack it is now YOUR turn to gather up the girls and go rogue with “me time” and your chance to win a copy of BAD MOMS. Just email with BAD MOMS in the subject line and please include your mailing address. A winner will be chosen at random! 

BAD MOMS is also available now on Digital HD and coming to Bluray, DVD and On Demand November 1st from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.

GERMAN CURRENTS SAN DIEGO Showcases its Festival Offerings This Weekend 

German Currents San Diego, celebrating its 6th Annual Festival of German Film, has unveiled a lineup of award-winning German feature films for this year’s festival. Presented by the German American San Diego Foundation, the festival will showcase five screenings in Balboa Park on October 22-23.

On Saturday, Oct 22, the festival will kick off with the screening of “Me And Kaminski” at the San Diego Natural History Museum’s state-of-the-art Kaplan movie theater, followed by a Q&A with director Wolfgang Becker and a gala reception with German food and drinks. 

The brilliant tragic comedy “Me and Kaminski” also sees Becker reunited with Daniel Bruehl, his star from “Good Bye Lenin!” On Sunday, October 23, the festival will continue with two family matinee screenings at the Museum of Photographic Arts (MOPA).

Also playing on Sunday, October 23 is the film HEIDI, OFFLINE – Are you ready for the next level?, 24 WOCHEN (24 Weeks) and ICH BIN DANN MAL WEG (I’m Off Then: Losing and Finding Myself on the Camino de Santiago).

All films are presented in German with English subtitles.

For more information on obtaining tickets please visit and for more details and preview trailers please visit