President Barack Obama hosted a screening at the White House yesterday, and now the city of Knoxville's equivalent is doing the same: The new biopic Cesar Chavez will be premiering here with an appearance by Mayor Madeline Rogero.
Since Knoxville doesn't have a mayoral mansion with a fancy screening room, those wanting to check out the movie will have to travel all the way to the giant Regal cinema at Turkey Creek. (Why? We don't know. Does Regal just hate its downtown theatre, for which the city just spent all that money building the fancy pedestrian bridge next to it? Has Rogero just never been to Turkey Creek on a Saturday afternoon before and has no idea what she's in for? We can only speculate.) Anyway, the special screening of the new film will be followed by a discussion with Rogero, who worked for Chavez in the 1970s organizing farm workers to improve their conditions, and Chavez's great-niece Julz, who presumably has some good anecdotes to tell.
Disappointingly, none of the stars of the film will be attending. We don't get all into Hollywood and stuff, but if there's anyone for whom we'd make a fool of ourselves on the red carpet, it's John Malkovich. (Malkovich does not play Chavez, but an evil farmer opposed to paying workers a living wage.) The film stars Michael Peña -- recently in American Hustle as the guy who pretended to be the Sheik -- as Chavez and America Ferrera as his wife. (Honestly, we love her almost as much as Malkovich. She was totally better than Blake Lively in Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.) Rosario Dawson and Gabriel Mann (better known as Nolan Ross on Revenge, that show that used to be good but is now pretty unwatchable) also star.
Cesar Chavez is the first English-language film by Diego Luna, whom you may remember as the other main guy in Y Tu Mamá También that was not Gael García Bernal but was still pretty hot. (You probably do not remember him as the main guy in Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights, because that is a movie that never should have existed in the first place.) The biopic just won an audience award at SXSW, so people enjoyed watching it, we suppose. Variety found the film a little dry, but our alt-weekly pals at the Austin Chronicle call the movie, "a small miracle, a true hero's journey that inspires without reaching for larger-than-life emotional crescendos. ... The film deserves comparisons to classic film depictions of labor movements in America like Norma Rae and Matewan." (The movie doesn't open nationally until March 28, so none of the big-name critics have yet reviewed it.)
In any case, the Knoxville screening is scheduled for Saturday, April 5, at 3 p.m. As of now, that's the only time the film will be shown locally, so get those tickets in advance. (And Mayor, if you're listening, can you bring the Veronica Mars movie here next?)
Here's the full press release:
REGAL TO SCREEN CESAR CHAVEZ FILMCatch a special screening of the new movie "Cesar Chavez" at Regal Pinnacle Stadium 18 in Turkey Creek at 3 p.m. on Saturday, April 5.Following the movie, Julz Chavez, a great-niece of the legendary farm worker advocate, and Mayor Madeline Rogero will facilitate a 45-minute Q&A session in the auditorium.Mayor Rogero has a special connection to this film. She postponed her college studies in the mid-1970s to work with Cesar Chavez in the movement to help farm workers improve their living and working conditions."That experience really instilled in me a sense of working for economic fairness, as well as the need to embrace inclusion and diversity," Mayor Rogero said.Centro Hispano de East Tennessee, HoLa-Hora Latina, Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of East Tennessee and Regal Entertainment Group are sponsoring the special screening. The master of ceremonies will be WVLT Channel 8's Marco Villarreal."Regal Entertainment Group is proud to be working with some of the leading Hispanic organizations in East Tennessee, Mayor Rogero and Julz Chavez for a special screening," said Samantha Owens, Hispanic marketing and PR coordinator at Regal Entertainment Group. "Hearing from those who have had first-hand experience working with such an iconic figure in civil rights will provide a unique perspective."Julz Chavez, founder and principal of Chayo Productions, has penned a script, "King Chavez," which chronicles the correspondence between Martin Luther King Jr. and Cesar E. Chavez. She's also developed "Labor of Love," the biopic mini-series of her family's legacy.Seating is limited, and interested guests are encouraged to make their purchase early. Tickets to the special screening may be purchased at the box office or in advance online at www.REGmovies.com/theatres by selecting the 3 p.m. April 5 show date.The biopic, directed by Diego Luna, was screened this week at the White House. It was an audience award winner, in the narrative spotlight category, at the South by Southwest Film Festival.The April 5 event is part of a year-long series of events commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act in 1964. Under the title "Unfinished Business: Then, Now & Going Forward," the series includes lectures, films, panel discussions and other events. For a calendar of activities, see www.cityofknoxville.org/civilrightsact.