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‘Ultima’ Film To Show in N.M.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — “Bless Me, Ultima” is coming home.

After a successful run and premiere in El Paso on Sept. 17, the film adaptation from Rudolfo Anaya’s 1972 novel will open in Albuquerque and Santa Fe on Oct. 19 — a day after its New Mexico premiere at the Santa Fe Independent Film Festival. The screenings will take place at Cinemark and Regal theaters.

“We are thrilled and honored to bring ‘Bless Me, Ultima’ to the native land of the renowned author, Rudolfo Anaya,” said Santiago Pozo, founder & CEO of Arenas, the Los Angeles-based company that is distributing and marketing the film. “Add to that the fact that the film was shot locally in Santa Fe, and a number of our cast and crew members are local to the area, which makes this a wonderful homecoming for the film.”

Leyla Fletcher, vice president of marketing at Arenas, said there were a lot of upset people in New Mexico when the film was chosen to premiere in El Paso.

“We wanted to screen the film in a non-biased market,” she explained. “El Paso was a market that embraced Chicano literature and knew of Rudolfo Anaya’s work. But now we have a case study and it’s been successful and Albuquerque and Santa Fe are the next stops for the film.”

“Bless Me, Ultima,” is set in the small town of Guadalupe, N.M., during World War II.

The novel follows the story of Antonio Márez who has a curandera named Ultima come live with his family when he was 6.

The main plot line involves Ultima’s struggle to stop the witchcraft of the three daughters of Tenorio Trementina, the main villain.

Antonio, who witnesses several deaths, is forced to deal with religious and moral issues.

“Bless Me, Ultima” is an award-winning classic, but it has been controversial and has been banned in school curriculum and public libraries, as recently as this year in Arizona.

“I am delighted the movie is coming home to New Mexico,” Anaya said. “Thanks to all the people in El Paso who made it a success. Here in Albuquerque it will be a super success. I am extremely pleased with the movie, and I’m sure all my paisanos here will show up for the opening. It’s like celebrating your first child’s birthday, so let’s party!”

The movie was directed by Carl Franklin at Greer Garson Studios on the campus of Santa Fe University of Art & Design in 2010.

It was filmed at Ruby Ranch in Las Vegas, N.M., Pecos River Ranch in Rowe, Abiquíu, Garson Studios and the old Manderfield School in Santa Fe, and the production employed 150 New Mexicans during its nearly three-month shooting schedule.

Fletcher said the film opened in four theaters in El Paso on Friday.

“The film averaged over $10,000 per screen,” she said. “And was the No. 2 overall film in El Paso for the weekend, just behind the national release ‘End of Watch.’ ”
— This article appeared on page C1 of the Albuquerque Journal