"Bless Me, Ultima" Finally Gets Made Into a Film
…And premieres where it should: in the Southwest
Originally published at Se Fija
Published on LatinoLA: February 23, 2013
Originally published on LatinoLA on July 24, 2012
The classic Latino novel finally gets the screen treatment it deserves.
"Bless Me, Ultima," Rudolfo Anaya's powerful coming-of-age novel set in 1940's New Mexico, has been impressing people for 40 years – literally, it was first published in 1972. Now, finally, it's about to appear as a feature film, starring a strong cast of Latino actors, including Benito Martinez, Dolores Heredia, a young Luke Ganalon, and the legendary Miriam Colon. And best of all, the September red-carpet premiere will be taking place exactly where it should: in the Southwest.
The film is adapted and directed by Carl Franklin a character actor in his own right who moved behind the camera in the 1980s. He adapted "Devil In a Blue Dress" with Denzel Washington back in 1995, and worked with him again in 2003 when he directed the infamous hostage/hospital/daddy drama "Out of Time."
Since then, most of Franklin's work has been on very high-end TV projects, including "Rome," the mini-series "The Pacific," and most recently episodes of "Falling Skies" and the Cubana-centric crime series "Magic City."
The actors involved are equally accomplished: Benito Martinez best known for runs on the "Shield," "Sons of Anarchy," and most recently "Supernatural," while Dolores Heredia is known for "A Better Life" and "Get the Gringo" in the U.S. and a great many Spanish-language projects as well. Then there's Miriam Colon, playing Ultima herself – more than 75 years old and still going strong, with credits reaching from the 1950's to the present, from Marlon Brando's "One-Eyed Jacks" to "How to Make it in America."
Why it's taken quite literally a lifetime for "Bless Me, Ultima" to make it from book to film is an entirely different discussion, but it's finally happened, and this press event in El Paso is, in part, a way to attract the attention of distributors and the press. Fortunately, the city of El Paso itself is making a 'thing' of out if (see this article from ElPasoInc.com), and that, too, will draw the press.
We'll see. Meanwhile, here's a conversation with author Rudolfo Anaya from a couple of years ago part of the national Endowment for the Arts' program, "The Big Read." …and you can see the trailer here.