June 16, 2008
By DAN LYBARGER
Screenwriter Ligiah Villalobos waited almost seven years for her movie “Under the Same Moon” to hit theaters. Her patience has been rewarded.
The $2 million Spanish-language film, directed by Patricia Riggen, opened to solid reviews and started a bidding war at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival. When it was released nationwide in March, it earned $2.7 million from only 266 theaters on its opening weekend.
“Moon” has now raked in $22 million worldwide. The film comes out on DVD today, and the package includes two “making of” featurettes: one in English, the other in Spanish.
“Under the Same Moon” follows a 9-year-old boy from Juarez, Mexico, named Carlitos (Adrián Alonso, “The Legend of Zorro”). After his grandmother dies, Carlitos crosses the U.S. border in the hope of finding his mother, Rosario (Kate del Castillo), who has been working in Los Angeles.
Villalobos was in Kansas City for the Kansas City Filmmakers Jubilee last April, and she said the subtitles and the immigration themes haven’t alienated viewers.
“Whether it’s in an art-house theater or in the Mexican community or African-American community, I think the story has transcended race, socio-economic level and everything else,” she says. “For some reason, even though we’re telling a Mexican experience, this is something every immigrant — whether they’re Chinese, Vietnamese or whatever it is — has experienced in their own life. It transcends the ‘Mexicanness’ the movie may have.”
Before she took up screenwriting, Villalobos had worked as an executive with Disney and the WB. Since then she has written episodes of “Ed” and was head writer for the cartoon series “Go, Diego! Go!” She is especially proud of the latter.
“ ‘Diego’ was probably the hardest thing I’ve ever had to write,” she said. “And you would never know by looking at the episodes because they look so simple. But it’s the amount of consultants involved in the show and the amount of research that you do going to preschools and getting the kids’ response about what they like and don’t like, what they do and don’t do that make the show incredibly complicated.
“But it was also one of the best jobs I’ve ever had. You’re literally changing the perception of young children about people of color and about getting into science and about taking a second language. All of those things have been really rewarding.”
Source: The Kansas City Star