A feature film, a documentary, two television programs and a multimedia platform will commemorate the 300th anniversary of the birth of Fray Junipero Serra on Nov. 24, 2013, and will acquaint people with the Mallorcan who is considered to be one of the "cultural fathers" of the United States.
The joint audiovisual project between the La Periferica and Tresques Comunicacio production companies, which was presented Thursday in the Spanish city of Palma in the Balearic Islands, will unfold over the next two years until the day of the anniversary and has the support of the Association of Friends of Fray Junipero Serra, the Mallorca Film Commission and the Cluster Audiovisual de Baleares, or CLAB.
The aim of those in charge of the project is to reveal and provide information about Father Serra, who is "very little known in Spain and not sufficiently valued in the United States and Mexico," according to what organizers said at the presentation of the project.
Fray Junipero Serra, born on the island of Mallorca in 1713, set sail from Cadiz to "New Spain" as a Franciscan missionary on Aug. 28, 1749, and never returned to his native land.
In Upper California, he founded - among others - the missions of San Diego de Alcala, San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo, San Gabriel Arcangel, San Luis Obispo de Tolosa, San Francisco de Asis and San Juan de Capistrano, which over time would become the cities of San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Sacramento.
Nowadays, most of these missions are UNESCO World Heritage Sites and are part of a road network covering portions of the United States and Mexico.
An old route known as the Camino Real links the mission of San Francisco Solano, in Sonoma, in northern California, with that of San Jose del Cabo, in the south, covering about 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) along the Pacific coast.
Known by the nickname "el viejo" (the old man), Serra was 51 when he traversed California in the service of the Spanish Crown and Catholic Church, making the journey almost completely on foot.
Serra died in the Carmel mission in Monterrey in 1784 and is buried there, and he is the only Spaniard honored in the National Statuary Hall at the Capitol in Washington as one of the illustrious personages (two per state) immortalized with a monument.
The organizers of the four big audiovisual projects based on Serra's life have initiated contact with independent and government institutions in both the United States and Mexico in the hopes of securing financing and other involvement.