One of four children in a migrant farming family from Mexico, José Hernández encountered many challenges throughout his childhood. His family never stayed in one place for more than a few months at a time, which affected his schooling. He didn’t learn English until he was 12 years old. Despite all this, from a young age, he had a thirst for knowledge, especially about the NASA space program.
Fast forward several decades. On August 29, 2009, José Hernández prepared to achieve his heart’s desire: to become an astronaut. He would travel 14 days as a crew member on the Shuttle Discovery, transporting seven tons of equipment and supplies to the International Space Station.
Launching globally on Prime Video on September 15, A MILLION MILES AWAY is an inspiring real-life adventure based on Hernández’s book, Reaching for the Stars: The Inspiring Story of a Migrant Farmworker Turned Astronaut. Directed by Alejandra Márquez Abella and starring Michael Peña, Rosa Salazar, Bobby Soto, Sarayu Blue, Veronica Falcón, Julio César Cedillo, Garret Dillahunt, and Eric Johnson, the film is a powerful reminder that pursuing your dreams can launch reality.
ABOUT A MILLION MILES AWAY
Inspired by the real-life story of NASA flight engineer José Hernández, A MILLION MILES AWAY follows him and his devoted family of proud migrant farm workers on a decades-long journey, from a rural village in Michoacán, Mexico, to the fields of the San Joaquin Valley, to more than 200 miles above the Earth in the International Space Station. With the unwavering support of his hard-working wife, parents, relatives, and teachers, José’s unrelenting drive and determination culminates in the opportunity to achieve his seemingly impossible goal.
Michael Peña as Hernández leads a solid cast of seasoned actors. He portrays Hernández as a man determination to achieve his dreams while still caring for his family. Rose Salazar portrays his wife Adela as a strong woman with a deep love for her family, dreams of her own, and who occasionally loses her cool when things get overwhelming.
The film’s production values are good. Instead of jumping back and forth in José’s life, the script follows a linear timeline, using costumes, cars, music—as well as various family events—to smoothly show the change of decades. It not only examines José’s drive and determination to achieve his dream, but it also showcases the power of family love as José family sacrifices for his dreams and for each other. Throughout the film, José’s father Salvador (Julio César Cedillo) reminds him of The Recipe for Success; five ingredients for setting and working towards goals. The script also includes other people who were powerful influences in José’s life, including his second-grade teacher, Ms. Young (Michelle Krusiec). After José begins working for NASA, he meets fellow immigrant Kalpana Chawla, (Sarayu Blue), who tells him about the importance of striving to achieve their goals. For those who might remember, Chawla and her fellow crew members were lost in 2003 when the Space Shuttle Columbia was destroyed upon re-entry to Earth’s atmosphere.
With a run time of 120 minutes and rated PG for thematic elements and language, A MILLION MILES AWAY is a powerful, uplifting story of never giving up on your dreams and the sacrificial power of love.