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Interview: 'Bless Me, Ultima'

February 22, 2013 6 a.m.

KPBS arts reporter Beth Accomando interviews the young actor from "Bless Me, Ultima."

Related Story: Interview: 'Bless Me, Ultima'


This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

ANCHOR INTRO: “Bless Me, Ultima” has been cited as the best-selling Chicano novel of all time but it took more than 4 decades for it to reach the screen. KPBS arts reporter Beth Accomando says the film boasts an impressive performance by the young lead.

ULTIMA 1 (ba) 1:15

Director Carl Franklin gained fame for his edgy indie films “One False Move” and “Devil in a Blue Dress.” Both dealt with race and violence. For “Bless Me, Ultima,” he turns to story about a young boy growing up in New Mexico during World War II.

CLIP “Why is there evil in the world?”

Antonio wants to make sense of the world, a world that introduces him to violence at an early age. Actor Luke Ganalon identifies with Antonio’s inquisitive nature.

LUKE GANALON: Everything’s just coming at him when he’s 7. He has questions about life and religion and really needs help and that’s where Ultima comes in.

Ultima is a mysterious healer that some call a witch. Antonio’s father explains that understanding the world is about having sympathy for people.

CLIP And Ultima has sympathy for people, with her its so complete that she can touch them and cure them.

“Bless Me Ultima” explores an intersection between religion and spiritually that’s complicated by cultural differences. Ganalon says the film gave him something to think about.

LUKE GANALON: We call things evil because we don’t really understand them sometimes and that is something that’s really stuck with me.

“Bless Me Ultima” is now playing at San Diego theaters.

Beth Accomando, KPBS News.