« 9/29: Bruce Thomson for AMAFCA Meet and Greet at O'Niell's Pub in Albuquerque | Main | Fiesta Spirit Sweeps Southern New Mexico (and NM Democrats) »

Saturday, September 25, 2010

"Bless Me, Ultima" To Be Filmed in New Mexico Reports Gov. Bill Richardson

Another coup for New Mexico's film industry. Governor Bill Richardson announced this week that the film Bless Me, Ultima will shoot in the Santa Fe area beginning next month. The production is expected to hire 150 New Mexicans for the cast and crew and more than 400 for background talent, according to information released by his office. Carl Franklin is directing and Sarah DiLeo and Jesse B’Franklin join Academy Award-winner Mark Johnson as producers. Christy Walton will serve as executive producer.

Based on Rudolfo Anaya’s novel of the same name, Bless Me, Ultima chronicles the turbulent coming-of-age story about Antonio, a young boy growing up in New Mexico during World War II, and his relationship with Ultima, an elderly medicine woman who helps Antonio navigate the dangerous battle between good and evil raging in his village, and ultimately helps him discover his own spiritual identity.

“This is a wonderful example of New Mexico’s rich artistic culture combining with our beautiful locations, skilled crew base, and financial incentives,” Richardson said in a written statement. “I am proud that the work of a New Mexican writer as talented and respected as Rudolfo Anaya -- one of the most prominent Latino writers of our generation -- will come to life right here.”

The novel has received critical praise from the New York Times, which states that it is “probably the best-known and most respected contemporary Latino Fiction.” According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Anaya’s novel is “poignant ... an important book that deserves to be hailed as a classic.” Upon its release, it won the prestigious Premio Quinto Sol literary award.

“Bless Me, Ultima” was selected for The Big Read, an initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts designed to revitalize the role of literary reading in American popular culture. One of only 30 books selected annually, Anaya is in the company of such authors as Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Steinbeck, Poe and Tolstoy. The novel was also chosen as one of the literary works included in the 2009 United States Academic Decathlon.

Mark Johnson is currently in post-production on The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader directed by Michael Apted, which will be released on December 10th, 2010. He also produced with Guillermo del Toro the upcoming Miramax horror film Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark starring Katie Holmes and Guy Pearce. He is the executive producer of the Emmy-winning AMC drama Breaking Bad, which will begin production of its fourth season in Albuquerque early next year.

Carl Franklin most recently directed an episode of HBO’s Emmy-winning miniseries The Pacific. He has directed many films working with frequent producing partner Jesse B’Franklin, including 1990’s award-winning One False Move, Devil In A Blue Dress and High Crimes.

Sarah DiLeo most recently served as the supervising producer on a slate of documentary films for The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in support of education reform.

Since Governor Richardson took office in 2003, more than 142 major film and television productions have been made in New Mexico, with an estimated economic impact of more than $3.3 billion. There are 10,000 direct and indirect film-related jobs in the state, and more than 250 businesses and services directly related to the industry.

Visit the New Mexico Film Office website for more information on New Mexico's film industry.

September 25, 2010 at 12:08 PM in Books, Economy, Populism, Film, Gov. Bill Richardson | Permalink