SANTA FE, N.M. — Just when Ben Lujan, the late speaker of the New Mexico House of Representatives, is back in the news, there’s a report of movie about him and his widow.
Mayor Javier Gonzales, in a news release Thursday, invited everyone to see the movie called “Ben and Carmen Lujan,” according to a City Hall news release The film will be shown as part of the upcoming Santa Fe Film Festival.
The 20-minute documentary will be shown at 6 p.m. May 1 at the Jean Cocteau Cinema at 418 Montezuma, according to film festival director NaNi Rivera. The movie was produced by Local 480 of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) and was directed by Susan Magestro. Lujan himself came up as a blue-collar labor leader.
Rivera said in an email that “Ben and Carmen Lujan” represents “their love for each other and their family and how they helped so many people.”
The documentary is being paired at with the classic “Salt of the Earth,” the 1954 film based on an actual strike against a mining operation in New Mexico and which deals with prejudice against the Mexican-American workers.
After the movies, there will be a concert by Jessie Bridges (daughter of Jeff Bridges) free to the public outside the Jean Cocteau, Rivera said. The event is sponsored by the IATSE local.
Some of the themes of “Salt of the Earth” might have political relevance this week.
Mother Jones magazine published an article critical of Gov. Susana Martinez and posted recordings of private discussions with aides during her 2010 gubernatorial campaign.
In one of the recordings, campaign staffer Matt Kennicott attacked then-Democratic state House Speaker Lujan, telling Martinez, “Somebody told me he’s absolutely eloquent in Spanish, but his English, he sounds like a retard.” Kennicott now works as spokesman for the state Human Services Department.
The comment has drawn negative reaction from Lujan’s family, including Carmen Lujan. Their son, U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Lujan, said it was “sad that a Martinez official believes that New Mexicans who speak with a Spanish accent have a disability.” Kennicott said he was repeating what someone else said and apologized if anyone was offended.