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Tony Rossi

Radio Host/Producer

Art Has Power to Bring People Together
August 16, 2015

Eduardo Verastegui was a popular singer and telenovela star in his native Mexico when he came to Hollywood looking to build a career in the States. But when he reconnected with his Catholic faith during that time, he decided to focus his energies on projects that gave greater glory to God—projects like the movie “Bella,” which he is best known for.

Now, Verastegui has executive-produced and co-starred in a World War Two period drama called “Little Boy” (on DVD August 18th). It’s about a young boy who believes that if he has faith the size of a mustard seed, he can bring his father home from fighting in the Pacific. The film, with exquisite cinematography designed to look like Norman Rockwell paintings, also deals with the topics of bullying, prejudice, the Corporal Works of Mercy, and the friendship between a Catholic priest and a non-believer.

When I interviewed Verastegui recently on “Christopher Closeup,” he explained what drew him to the story: “I was very moved because it’s an American story with a universal message that was going to be made by Mexicans in Mexico. As an immigrant, I’m grateful to this country for opening the door to my dreams. 

At the same time, it’s a movie for everyone. It’s a fairy tale for adults through the eyes of a little boy who, even though he’s eight years old, looks like he’s four. He’s the underdog, and I have been an underdog my whole life.”

One of the movie’s strong points is that there are Catholic elements to it, but they’re not preachy. They occur naturally in the story, like the inclusion of the Corporal Works of Mercy. Verastegui said he approached the portrayal of faith in “Little Boy” with an open heart: “It was important for us to make [the movie] a family experience where everyone can come see it, regardless of where they’re from, what language they speak, what faith they profess. It’s got a universal message. It’s about using your talents to do the right things. It’s about forgiving people, it’s about loving people. It’s a love story between a father and a son. And the Corporal Works of Mercy is a universal list of things to do. Feed the hungry, visit those who are in prison, visit the sick—this is something that we all should be doing. I guarantee you that we would make this world a better place.”

Another of the movie’s strengths is the character Hashimoto. He’s a non-believer who is friends with Father Oliver, the local priest. A lot of times in the world today, people who believe differently can often demonize each other, but here they have created a beautiful friendship based on mutual respect. Verastegui hopes the example of this relationship extends far and wide.

He concludes, “I believe that art has the power to heal and bring people together. Right now, we are living in a world that is divided, with a lot of violence and war and pain and sadness and depression. We’re all suffering from that. There’s a lot of fear. My hope as a filmmaker is to bring people together. That’s why the character of Hashimoto has a different belief system than Father Oliver, but nonetheless they respect each other, they love each other, they help each other. That’s a profound message because there’s more that unites us than what divides us. Sometimes we focus on what divides us…[but] I think we can start focusing on the things we agree on—and the rest, let’s still have that dialogue with respect, charity and humility.”

 

For a free copy of the Christopher News Note, STAYING POSITIVE AROUND NEGATIVE PEOPLE, write: The Christophers, 5 Hanover Square, New York, NY 10004; or e-mail: mail@christophers.org