The new film A Most Beautiful Thing, based on Arshay Cooper's upcoming autobiography of the same name, was going to debut at South by Southwest this week and then open nationally in theaters on March 27. Rowers in the nine opening cities across the country were rallying to attend, buying up blocks of seats for friends and teammates, and generally anticipating a great night out to watch a great rowing film.
With the cancellation of South by Southwest, the film was going to debut at a special event in Chicago, the home of Arshay and his Manley High teammates, but those plans are also now on hold. We got in touch with director Mary Mazzio about the current status of the film's debut, which is now scheduled for June 12; here is her recap of the events of the past couple weeks.
(Ed.s note: in the meantime, this review of the movie snuck out: The SXSW That Never Was: The Documentaries on rogerebert.com)
"A 'work-in-progress' screening of A MOST BEAUTIFUL THING was quietly hosted earlier this year in Washington DC for members of Congress by the Motion Picture Association and the Recording Association," Mazzio said. "The event gave Arshay, Malcolm, Pookie, Preston, and Alvin the opportunity to see the film for the first time up on the big screen.
"Representative Joe Kennedy (MA) introduced the film, Representative Jan Schakowsky (IL) made some remarks, and the panel conversation afterwards was anchored by Representative Danny Davis (IL). Davis remarked that he was blown away by the film and that 'millions of young people need to see this film, especially millions of African American boys and girls to see what can be possible.' Olympians Aquil Abdullah and David Banks joined along with Susan Smith, interim-CEO of USRowing, and Ken Alpart the founder of Manley Crew."
"We were then headed to our official public premiere of the film at South by Southwest (which Arshay, Pookie, and Malcolm as well as Aquil Abdullah and David Banks and I were headed to) when the festival was cancelled. Representative Danny Davis, the City of Chicago and Chaz Ebert (a philanthropist and married to the late Roger Ebert) had also scheduled a special event in Chicago (which was now our 'new premiere'), which was also cancelled late last week.
"In terms of our theatrical run with AMC Theatres scheduled for March 27, all of us felt that the health and safety of our larger community was more important, and that we could not put anyone at risk with close contact in a theater setting. AMC agreed to postpone our release until June 12 (more details soon on that) and refund all prepaid tickets as people had already begun buying seats in bulk for opening weekend.
We so appreciative of the many partners, rowing clubs, and friends of the project, and we look forward to sharing Arshay’s story in June which, when that happens, will be a most beautiful thing. If people check in at www.AMostBeautifulThing.com, we will have the site updated with details."