The cultural significance of the recently released film, “Bless Me, Ultima,” for the San Luis Valley and Northern New Mexico community resonated with Adams State University and the Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area. Thanks to the persistence of individuals from both those institutions, “Bless Me, Ultima,” will show on the Adams State campus April 5, 6, and 7.
Based on the controversial novel by acclaimed author Rudolfo Anaya, “Bless Me, Ultima,” is a turbulent coming-of-age story about Antonio Marez (Luke Ganalon), a young boy growing up in New Mexico during World War II. When a mysterious curandera 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 the strict Catholic doctrine that he has been taught by his parents (Dolores Heredia & Benito Martinez). Through a series of mysterious and at times terrifying events Antonio must grapple with questions about his own destiny, the relationship between good vs. evil and ultimately how to reconcile Ultima’s powers with those of the God of his church.
The film, directed by Carl Franklin, will show at 6 p.m. Friday, April 5; noon and 6 p.m. Saturday, April 6; and 1 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. Sunday, April 7, in Carson Auditorium, located in the Adams State Student Union Building. The noon show on Saturday, April 6, will be followed by a discussion panel including community members and faculty. The last showing on Sunday, April 7, will be followed by a free reception.
Tickets are free for AS&F and students, with a valid school I.D., and a recommended $10 donation for community members. The donation supports programs and projects for the Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area.
Adams State committee members including Andrea Benton-Maestas, Institutional Reporting director; Donna Griego, executive assistant to the senior vice president; Michelle Romero, assistant director of Admissions; Cheryl Ruybal, Extended Studies program manager-brokered programs; and Bernadette Torres, Extended Studies quality assurance specialist; first began work on bringing the film to Adams State last fall. According to the committee, this will be the first of many spring events highlighting San Luis Valley culture.
The group attended the 2012 Hilos Summer Institute in San Luis. “We were struck and mesmerized with the many cultural elements within the valley and Northern New Mexico,” Griego said. Benton-Maestas agreed: “We were motivated to begin promoting the value and significance of the Upper Rio Grande community.”
The committee hopes by organizing annual spring events, focusing on culture, the community and campus will better understand and appreciate differences. “When you understand somebody, it is harder to judge them by their outside appearance,” Ruybal said.
The committee originally hit many “road blocks and obstacles” when trying to bring the film to campus. Eventually, they were put in contact with Christina Gallegos, Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Association executive director. Together SdCNHA and Adams State worked diligently and persistently to secure the screenings.
“As we modernize, our language and traditions are in danger of being lost to future generations,” Griego said. “Our goal is to promote the diversity of cultures within the region, starting with “Bless Me, Ultima.”
For more information visit SdCNHA.org or call 719-376-6760.