“Bless Me, Ultima” Based on the Classic Novel Premieres Nationwide February 22nd

BMU.510Acclaimed author Rudolfo Anaya’s classic novel Bless Me, Ultima premieres nationwide on February 22nd.  The film stars award-winning veteran actress Miriam Colon and introduces audiences to 12-old actor, Luke Ganalon in what is sure to be the breakout role his career.  Bless Me, Ultima is written and directed by Carl Franklin, (One False Move, Devil In A Blue Dress).  The executive producer is Christy Walton.  Ms. Walton read the book over 25 years ago, and felt it would make a terrific film.  Today Ms. Walton remarks,  “I’m proud to say that Bless Me, Ultima is a wonderful movie as well as a wonderful book.”

Benito Martinez (Far Left) with Martha Heredia, and Luke
(L-R) Benito Martinez with Martha Heredia, and Luke Ganalon and the two sisters

Bless Me, Ultima is a magical coming-of-age story about Antonio, a young boy growing up in New Mexico during World War II.  When a revered curandera (natural healer), Ultima, comes to live with his family, she teaches him about the power of the spirit world. Through a series of strange events, Antonio grapples with questions about his own destiny, good vs. evil, and ultimately how to reconcile Ultima’s powers and his parents’ (Dolores Heredia & Benito Martinez) beliefs.

Bless Me, Ultima  is one of the few dramatic family films produced this year. There’s action, adventure, and comedic moments while the audience is transported to life in the mid-1940s.  Set in the New Mexico majestic landscape, the story unfolds as we meet the people shape the world Antonio lives in, with Ultima at the center.  Antonio attends a one-room school with a rag-tag group of youngsters, each with their own personality – and nickname.  His friends include “Vitamin Kid,” “Bones,” and the big kid, “Horse.” The local priest, the town’s bartender, three sisters who are believed to be witches and their father the evil Tenorio, splendidly played by Castulo Guerra – all add to this colorful tale.

Noted film Critic Roger Ebert gives the film his highest rating of four stars, making this a must-see film for all movie fans and putting it on par with The Grapes of Wrath and To Kill a Mockingbird.  Since last September, Ebert has given four stars to only a few films,such as: Life of Pi, Lincoln, Argoand Skyfall.

Seventy-seven year old Colon, who turns in an award-winning performance, told the Miami Herald of playing the title character, “I want to see more characters like Ultima.  She’s more than a medicine woman. It doesn’t matter that she is an old lady. She has tremendous strength, dignity and composure.”

The movie is based on the much-praised book by Anaya, who many feel is one of our country’s best writers.  The World and I Magazine has said about the novel, “One of the great works of Chicano literature.  Young people will be enchanted and adults will recognize its depths of meaning, its haunting cultural lyricism. No reader can ask for anything more.”  Bless Me, Ultima was spotlighted on former First Lady Laura Bush’s Must-Read list.

Bless Me, Ultima is being distributed by Arenas Entertainment, the oldest Latino-owned and operated entertainment company in Hollywood.  Celebrating their 25th anniversary, Arenas CEO, Santiago Pozo, said, “This film is the best anniversary present we could have ever received.”

Bless Me, Ultima opens on February 22nd in Nationwide in select theaters on February 22nd in Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, Miami, and Las Vegas.  Other cities include, in California: Sacramento, Monterrey, Palm Springs, Fresno, Bakersfield.  Arizona: Phoenix, Tucson, Yuma.  Texas: Harlingen, Austin, Laredo, Odessa, Corpus Christi, Lubbock. Colorado: Denver, Colorado Springs, Pueblo. Florida: West Palm Beach, Orlando, and Tampa.  Spanish-subtitled prints will be available in theatres in McAllen, Fort Worth, and Pasadena, Texas, as well as, Aurora, Colorado, Phoenix, Arizona, and Los Angeles.  The film is rated PG 13. For more information:  BlessMeUltima.com.

Written by Nancy D. Reza