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Same Moon, Same Vision

20 Jun, 2008 By: Ruby Cardenas

June 17 La Misma Luna (Under the Same Moon) migrated to stores on DVD ($29.99), from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. For screenwriter and producer Ligiah Villalobos, the release not only marks the success of her record-breaking immigration film, but also the successful recount of the unknown story of those who have become mere numbers.

“Hopefully it brings to light that the issue is a 3-D person,” she said.

La Misma Luna tells the story of Carlitos (Adrian Alonso), a boy left behind in Mexico by his mother, Rosario (Kate Del Castillo), while she goes to work in the United States. The story follows his journey to cross the border on his own to be with his mother.

“What I wanted to capture was the abandonment — what happens to children as a result of immigration and being left behind while their parents work,” she said. “It is not just another immigrant story. It's a story about the children and the emotional consequences.”

Many of the characters are based on people Villalobos has known, as well as on herself. The payphone scenes between Carlitos and his mother are not a fabricated idea, she said.

“My parents split up when I was very young and my abandonment was the divorce,” Villalobos said. “I bounced back and forth between my parents my entire childhood. When I was sent to live with my father [in the United States], who didn't have a phone, talking to my mom in Durango on the corner payphone weekly was the only way to communicate.”

The roles played by America Ferrera and Jesse Garcia, who play U.S. students getting paid to bring Mexican immigrants across the border, are based on the experience of an intern who worked with Villalobos.

The screenwriter has faced criticism that the film feeds Latino stereotypes through the portrayal of the mother as a maid. However, she responds that if people have focused on the lead as a maid, then they have completely missed the point of the story.

La Misma Luna broke the three-day weekend gross for any Spanish-language film in the United States and simultaneously became the highest opening in Mexico for 2007-08. It also is the third-highest-grossing Mexican film of all time in the United States.

“I did not expect that kind of success at all,” she said. “I only prayed that the film would make at least $5 million so that the investors could make their money back. It feels great to be third to classics Y Tu Mamá Tambi?n and Como Agua Para Chocolate.”

The DVD includes a behind-the-scenes-featurette with commentary as well as a short documentary of a mural done in East Los Angeles, the theme of which is based on the film.

Villalobos said she hopes the release of the film on DVD will allow people who did not see it in English to see it now.

She may not have anything to worry about when it comes to the DVD's success, as Villalobos jokingly said the film has done quite well in the piracy market.

“Piracy is terrible,” she said. “My cleaning lady came to my house the other day and told me how she sent the DVD to Guatemala. She was so excited and completely oblivious to the fact that she bought a bootleg version, as the copy she bought was $10.99, as opposed to the normal rate of $5.99 for other bootlegs.”

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