Puerto Rican actress Miriam Colón to play lead in “Bless Me, Ultima” film

This from the Associated Press . . .

The producer of a movie based on the classic 1970s novel “Bless Me, Ultima,” now being filmed in Santa Fe, says she and her crew are tackling a project in which the story is the star. Sarah DiLeo and her team are shooting the movie in and around Santa Fe through December. The final cut should be ready by next summer.

Rudolfo Anaya’s Bless Me, Ultima tells the story of the bittersweet saga of Antonio and Ultima. The novel is beloved in particular by New Mexicans. DiLeo, in an interview with the Santa Fe New Mexican, said she feels the movie will be a faithful adaptation. “The challenge is not to be literal,” she said during a break in shooting while the crew was filming at an old elementary school. “The challenge is to capture the essence of the novel and distill it in a different medium.”

The movie is being directed by and was scripted by Carl Franklin, whose credits include the tough-as-nails crime drama “One False Move” and the Denzel Washington noir film “Devil In a Blue Dress.” The actors in the movie include a number of no-name newcomers, including 9-year-old Luke Ganalon as a young Antonio. Ganalon was one of about 55 youngsters repeatedly running through a scene that captures the chaos of the first day of school. Ganalon said he just began auditioning for acting work last spring, and he’s only been in two commercials. “To me, Antonio is kind of more shy than me and he questions his own culture,” Ganalon said while still clad in a pair of blue overalls that suggested rural 1940s New Mexico.

He said Antonio’s relationship to Ultima is “very close.”

“Ultima knows he has the power to heal but I don’t think I knew I had it in me,” he said.

Veteran actress Miriam Colón, who plays an adult Ultima, praised her younger co-star as having a voracious appetite for knowledge. Colón, a native of Puerto Rico who lives in New York City, said she hadn’t read Anaya’s book before she auditioned for the role. Upon reading it, she said of Franklin’s script: “He has managed to preserve the meaning of the characters; the essence of the story is all there. I am not an expert in literature, but the way the author describes these people — people of the earth, people who are struggling, people trying to live their lives and encountering situations and relationships that cause a lot of tension — you realize they are flawed people, but you care about them,” she said.

According to DiLeo, Anaya has been an adviser on the script. He has yet to visit the set, but she’s hoping to convince him to play a cameo role if he does show up. “Everyone I encounter who has read the book — even if they read it 20 years ago in high school — has a high excitement for the project. It’s a story that stands out for people,” she said.

The film will shoot in the Abiquiu area for a few days, and then return to Santa Fe for some interiors at Garson Studios on the Santa Fe University of Art and Design campus.

DiLeo said the company is taking advantage of New Mexico’s film incentive program. About 140 New Mexicans are working on the film as either crew members or performers — including all the children who were working as extras at the elementary school this week.

For the original report go to http://www.krqe.com/dpp/news/Film-shot-in-NM-based-on-beloved-novel

2 thoughts on “Puerto Rican actress Miriam Colón to play lead in “Bless Me, Ultima” film

  1. Very nice article
    Looking forward to the release of the film.
    What is happening with it?
    It is now the last day of 2011 and it seems it hasn’t been released yet.


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