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Alambrista! Movie Review

robert roberto gillin beatty

The best scripted film of 1978's San Francisco International Film Festival may well have been Robert M. Young's Alambrista!, a compassionate study of the Mexican immigrants who entered the U.S. illegally in the late 1970s in search of better employment. Focusing on one unmarried father named Roberto (touchingly played by Domingo Ambriz), Young reveals the frightening, nomadic, and altogether unfree lives the Mexican farmworkers must lead in order to send money home to their families. Alambrista! has a strong documentary quality: Young's training was in that filmmaking tradition. He shows how Roberto goes from farm to farm, harvesting fruits and vegetables, and how he lives briefly with a Stockton waitress (stunningly played by Linda Gillin, who also made a couple of chiller-thrillers). For the most part, Roberto's new life is horrible: lonely and exhausting, and filled with the terror of discovery by immigration authorities. Alambrista! evokes memories of The Grapes of Wrath, and the picture deserves much wider distribution than it received on the now-defunct Visions series via PBS. A must on video, not only for Young's superb story-telling, but also because it gives a chance to see the early work of Oscar nominees Ned Beatty and Edward James Olmos, as well as the late Trinidad Silva (Crackers, Colors, The Night Before).

1977 110m/C Domingo Ambriz, Trinidad Silva, Linda Gillin, Ned Beatty, Julius W. Harris, Paul Berrones, Edward James Olmos, Stephen Walker, Blake Ritson; D: Robert M. Young; W: Robert M. Young; C: Robert M. Young.

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