It’s an exciting week for Latino film. There are lots of options at theaters across the country including the Oscar nominated NO (starring Gael García Bernal), the Puerto Rican thriller Los Condenados, and Bless Me, Ultima based on Rudolfo Anaya’s classic Chicano novel.
Starring: Miriam Colon, Luke Ganalon, Dolores Heredia, Benito
Martinez, Castulo Guerra, Joaquin Cosio
After a small regional release last summer, Bless Me, Ultima is now in the second week of its national release. This past weekend its box office sales passed the $1 million mark, a feat that few Latino films achieve. Last year only three Latino films were able to surpass six figures.
Based on the controversial, award-winning Chicano novel by acclaimed author Rudolfo Anaya, Bless Me, Ultima is a turbulent coming-of-age story about a young boy, Antonio (Luke Ganalon), growing up in New Mexico during World War II. When a mysterious curandera (healer) named Ultima (Miriam Colon) comes to live with his family, she teaches him about the power of the spiritual world. As their relationship grows, Antonio begins to question his strict upbringing by his parents (Dolores Heredia & Benito Martinez). Through a series of mysterious and at times terrifying events, Antonio must grapple with questions about the nature of divinity and his own destiny.
Bless Me, Ultima is currently playing in over a hundred theaters in California, Arizona, Texas, Nevada, Colorado, Illinois, and Florida.
Starring: Cristina Rodlo, René Monclova, Axel Anderson
Country: Puerto Rico
In this haunting psychological thriller, dark and terrible secrets hidden in an old mansion stir back to life when the original owner of the house returns. Beautiful Ana travels to a remote town to transform the abandoned family mansion into a museum detailing her father’s scientific and humanitarian achievements. She discovers that the mysterious caretaker has kept the house in pristine fashion. However, the townspeople – now destitute and helpless — do not welcome her warmly. And neither does the house.
The Condemned is currently playing at the Quad Cinema in New York City and opens Friday, March 8 at Laemmle’s NoHo 7 in Los Angeles.
Starring: Gael García Bernal, Alfredo Castro, Antonia Zegers
It didn’t win the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film but the nomination has helped build buzz for Pablo Larraín’s political drama inspired by actual events in Chilean history. Now in the third week of its theatrical release, it is expanding to many major cities beyond just New York and Los Angeles.
In 1988, Chilean military dictator Augusto Pinochet, due to international pressure, is forced to call a plebiscite on his presidency. The country will vote YES or NO to Pinochet extending his rule for another eight years. Opposition leaders for the NO, persuade a brash young advertising executive, Rene Saavedra (Gael García Bernal), to spearhead their campaign.
Reviewing materials already created for the campaign, René is convinced their grim, endless montages of killings, torture, tanks and tear gas will turn off voters. With the opposition outspending them an estimated 30 to 1, NO must come up with campaign ads that speak to the heart of the people of Chile and motivate them go to the polls. "Everyone wants to be happy," René says in his quiet, convincing way. "Happiness" will be the campaign: "Happiness is coming if you vote NO!" This approach meets resistance from colleagues who see it as an affront to the many who have suffered under Pinochet, but René confidently commissions jingles and celebrities to join in delivering the message: "Chile: happiness is coming!!!"
NO is currently playing at theaters in New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Diego and will open in other cities in the coming weeks.