A Better Life" directed by Chris Weitz (About a Boy, The Golden Compass, and New Moon) who along with producer Christian McLaughlin was present for the interesting thirty minute Q&A. See the some of the highlights below...
Chris Weitz last film was "The Twilight Saga: New Moon" with Summit Entertainment. While Chris was working on New Moon Summit approved to finance his follow-up "A Better Life" which stars Demián Bichir as a illegal immigrant father trying to provide for his son in Los Angeles. Director Chris Weitz was first to say that he likes to "try something different every time." He mentioned that most directors want to establish a representation by doing the same sort of film but as Chris said, "it's never been my thing." What a lot of people do not know is that Chris Weitz great grandma is Mexican. Early in her twenties she was scouted by a Hollywood agent in Mexico and brought to the United States to be a silent film actress. With that background knowledge producer Christian McLaughlin (Legally Blonde) brought the script to Chris Weitz two or three years ago to see if he was interested. Weitz said he instantly clung to the script, calling it "irresistible," also wanting to make the movie for personal reasons. Weitz said he is the first generation of his family to not speak Spanish and he aimed to change that while making the movie.
Weitz was clear to say that A Better Life does not, "stand on a soapbox" instead it is "a story of a father and son and what people will do to live in this country." Having seen the film I completely agree with this point. The story invites sympathy but this film is not preaching to the choir. It will probably make the audience think twice, but it has a clear path which is not display some political agenda. Carlos Galindo (Demián Bichir) is an invisible character and that is intentional says Chris Weitz. "We wanted no one American audiences would be immediately familiar with." He added, "It was important not to take out insurance on a star." Weitz and producers believed that if Summit went after a Benicio Del Toro or Javier Bardem type the film could quickly not be what it was intended to be. For a very good reason "A Better Life" is filled with a cast of unknowns. The son in the film Luis, is played by José Julián, a first time actor but you couldn't tell from the performance on screen. Chris Weitz noted that when Demián Bichir and José Julián tested together they "immediately felt like father and son."
"A Better Life" is set for limited release on June 24th in New York and Los Angeles. Like so many of the other films showing during the summer series, these films will open small and grow by positive word of mouth. Stay tuned for more from KCET's Cinema Series running through August 2nd in the coming weeks and look for my review to A Better Life later this month.