Antonio Banderas plays the title role in HBO Films? AND STARRING PANCHO VILLA AS HIMSELF, a larger-than-life portrait of the Mexican revolutionary. Exploring the fine line between fact and fiction, the film tells the little-known but extraordinary true story of how pioneering movie giants D.W. Griffith and Harry Aitken bought the exclusive rights to film Villa?s Mexican revolution, creating Hollywood?s first action movie. It debuts SUNDAY, SEPT. 7 at 9:30 p.m. (ET), exclusively on HBO.
In 1913, General Francisco ?Pancho? Villa (Antonio Banderas) conceives an innovative strategy to help finance his Divisi?n del Norte rebel forces in their war against the dictatorship of Victoriano Huerta. With his limited resources further hampered by a U.S. arms embargo, Villa offers U.S. filmmakers unprecedented access to shoot his army in actual combat ? at a price set by Villa and payable in gold.
From the moviemaking capital of Fort Lee, New Jersey, Mutual Films partners D.W. Griffith (Colm Feore) and Harry Aitken (Jim Broadbent) are intrigued by the offer, but are busy with other projects, including Griffith?s ?The Birth of a Nation.? They decide to send Aitken?s young nephew, production assistant Frank Thayer (Eion Bailey), to Mexico to sign the exclusive deal. Thayer and his crew soon find themselves in the thick of battle at Villa?s legendary victory at Torr?on, risking life and limb as they roll their cameras to make film history with the first full-length action blockbuster. Released in 1914, ?The Life of General Villa? is a box-office hit and helps turn the tide in American support of the Mexican Revolution.
AND STARRING PANCHO VILLA AS HIMSELF completed filming entirely on location in Mexico, in and around the state of Guanajuato, in fall 2002.