The Mexican American coming-of-age novel “Bless Me, Última” is set to grace the silver screen in February, as the independent film adaptation will see a limited release on February 22. The film is based, of course, on the novel by Rudolfo Anaya and follows the story of a boy named Antonio growing up in World War II-era New Mexico and learning about the spiritual world from his curandera grandmother, Última.
Originally published in 1972, the book has sold hundreds of thousands of copies since, and received a myriad of accolades. Former First Lady Laura Bush selected the book as one of her “25 books to read,” has been highlighted by the National Endowment for the Arts and has won all manner of awards.
The book is one of the most widely read works of Mexican American literature in the country, but has sporadically caused controversy due to some of the scenes and themes in the book.
Among the reasons the book has been controversial, or that some have tried to ban it from schools, are: the treatment of non-Christian spiritual beliefs, curse words, and sexual content, among other things.
Anaya told The Los Angeles Times in 2009 when one California school banned the book, “What are these people afraid of? We have ample evidence throughout history of what happens when we start banning books, when we are afraid of ideas and discussion and analytical thinking. The society will suffer.”
The film features several Latino actors in major roles, including: Miriam Colón, Joaquín Cosío and Dolores Heredia.
Previousy released in El Paso and New Mexico to much success, the movie will be expanded into more than 200 theaters in February.
Many of the cities included in the release are in the Southwest, where the majority of Mexican Americans in the U.S. are concentrated, such as: Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Antonio, Las Vegas and Denver, although Chicago and Miami will also screen the film.