The story behind the image:

Alejandro Galindo filming in Texas at long last.


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Photograph taken by Rogelio Agrasánchez Jr. © 1977


Mexican filmmaker Alejandro Galindo was waiting for the staff to get ready to film on location, near Los Fresnos, Texas, in 1977.  The movie was Mojados/Wetbacks, produced by Rogelio Agrasánchez Linage.


For Alejandro Galindo, making this movie was the opportunity to approach again a subject that captivated him 24 years before: in 1953, Alejandro Galindo had directed Espaldas mojadas for ATA Films, a production company owned by José Elvira.


Espaldas mojadas was shot mostly on location, in Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, and the vicinity.  Attempts were made to film some scenes on the other side of the border, but permission was denied on the dubious grounds of film union conflicts.  The actual reason for the banning might have been the film’s subject, unthinkable in the era of McCarthyism:  illegal immigration to the United States, and the abuses mojados were victims of.  David Silva, Martha Valdés, Víctor Parra, and Óscar Pulido played the leading roles. 


The production was plagued by delays and problems that did not end when the film was ready for release, as it was vetoed by Mexican censorship for two years. In the United States, Espaldas mojadas was not widely screened in theaters that catered to Spanish-speaking audiences; it just had short runs in a few venues in 1958, and was not amply publicized.  Yet, it eventually became a classic of Mexican cinema.


By 1977, the situation was quite different.  Producer Agrasánchez got not only permission to shoot in the Rio Grande Valley, Texas, but also the support of local authorities and the community.  The Benítez brothers, leading film exhibitors in the area, were co-producers of the movie.


Alejandro Galindo was able to fulfill his dream to make a film about illegal immigrants in United States territory at long last.


Mojados/Wetbacks was based on a compelling story about illegal immigration written by Rogelio Agrasánchez Linage and screenwriter Rafael García Travesí.  Jorge Rivero, Narciso Busquets, Eduardo Noriega, Antonio de Hud, Carlos Agosti, and María Fernanda had the main roles in the movie.


García Travesí, a former diplomat and journalist who spent three years in jail because of political reasons created a credible story, and a character that might have been inspired in his own life:  a young journalist capable of sacrificing for an ideal.  In his own case, he fought against President Miguel Alemán’s politics, while the character he created gave his life in the defense of abused immigrants.


Mojados/Wetbacks counted on a mix of seasoned film people from the Golden Era and new talents; all of them teamed to make a realistic movie that premiered in Brownsville, Texas, with the attendance of some U.S. immigration officers.  Unlike Espaldas mojadas, this movie was efficiently advertised and distributed, and became a box-office hit in theaters that catered to Spanish-speaking audiences in the United States.  A new classic of border cinema was born.


Note:


For more information about Rogelio Agrasánchez Linage and Rafael García Travesí, readers can consult: escritores.cinemexicano.unam.mx/presentacion.htm


For more information about Alejandro Galindo, readers can consult: Alejandro Galindo, un alma rebelde en el cine mexicano, by Francisco Peredo Castro, published by CONACULTA/IMCINE, 2003, Mexico.