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'Better Life' tells the story of immigrant life in LA

June 21, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
Director Chris Weitz, whose films include "About a Boy" and "The Twilight Saga: New Moon," is taking on the topic of illegal immigration with the drama, "A Better Life."

"The Hollywood studios think that Latinos go and see a lot of movies but they don't see movies about themselves, and we want to prove them wrong," Weitz said.

"A Better Life" premiered Tuesday night as part of the 17th annual Los Angeles Film Festival.

On the red carpet was the film's leading man, Demian Bichir.

The movie tells the story of an illegal immigrant who works as a gardener in Los Angeles to provide a better life for himself and for his teenage son, but the odds seem against him.

"He needs to become invisible in order to survive and that's a really, really, really difficult way of living a life," Bichir said.

To play the role, Bichir spoke to real gardeners in Los Angeles who shared their stories with him.

Bichir also had to learn how to scale a palm tree.

"In every gardener's group, there's one guy that climbs up, and it has to be the strongest, the better fit guy and fearless because there's a real risk of losing your life every time you go up," the actor said.

The film also deals with the gardener's often unsupervised son, a kid who on the verge of gang life.

Some of the gang member characters seen in the film are actually former gang members who turned their lives around with a little help.

"These guys found a better way, a better life because of Homeboy Industries and we were lucky to have them on the film, too," Bichir said.

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