It was one of the few books written from a Chicano perspective that made it onto the curriculum of any of my literature courses in college at the University of Colorado. And now Rudolfo Anaya’s award-winning Bless Me, Ultima is being made into a movie! Imagine my delight when I learned that Walmart heiress Christy Walton (whose worth is estimated at $23.2 billion) is set to finance and executive produce the project. Apparently, she’s always been a huge fan of the book, and has now set up a single-purpose company called Tenaja Productions specifically to finance the film. Originally published in 1972, the book tells the turbulent, coming-of-age story of Antonio Marez, a youth growing up in the small town of Guadalupe, New Mexico during World War II. With the help of Ultima, an elderly curandera, Antonio learns to question life and death, religion and spirituality, family tradition versus free will, and eventually reconciles the differences.
Apparently, Walton has been itching to make this movie since 2004. She and producer Sarah DiLeo both shared a passion for the book, so they started courting the author. Though Anaya initially passed on the offer, he eventually relented after DiLeo crashed his vacation in Mexico. Hopefully he won’t regret his decision, since dealing with Walton means she’ll have a great deal of creative control.