ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Eddie Alcazar never imagined he would make a documentary about one of his heroes.
The Albuquerque native also didn’t realize that he would be screening the documentary after his hero’s death and that it would receive rave reviews.
“The whole project started from conversations that Johnny (Tapia) and I were having over the years,” Alcazar says. “It’s been a long journey to get this done and it’s finished for everyone to see.”
Alcazar’s “Tapia” will make its New Mexico premiere on Oct. 17 at the Lensic Performing Arts Center as part of the Santa Fe Independent Film Festival.
This will be the second festival where the documentary has been screened. It had its world premiere this summer at the Los Angeles Film Festival.
The documentary also gained some steam after rapper, actor and producer Curits “50 Cent” Jackson acquired the rights to it along with promoter Lou DiBella.
The documentary chronicles Tapia’s very public struggle with drug addiction and the perpetual trauma caused by the brutal rape and murder of his mother when he was 8 years old. Her death became the catalyst for both his unprecedented boxing career as well as his volatile drug addiction. It features interviews with Mike Tyson, trainer Freddie Roach and Tapia’s widow Teresa.
Jacques Paisner, co-founder of the festival, says getting the documentary falls in line with what the festival wants to do with New Mexico films.
He says last year the festival got the film versions of Judy Blume’s “Tiger Eyes” and Rudolfo Anaya’s “Bless Me, Ultima” to screen and both did very well.
“Getting ‘Tapia’ is a major get for us,” Paisner says. “It really gives us the chance to show a film that so many New Mexicans can relate to. Johnny was a world champion but he was also a beloved figure in the state. I think many New Mexicans will be wanting to see the film.”
Alcazar says he wanted to do the world premiere in New Mexico, but the L.A. Film Festival came along first and it was around the anniversary of Tapia’s death.
“A lot of people showed up and the festival added a third screening because of the demand,” he says. “This entire project was so unexpected.”
Paisner says there is only one screening slated for the festival but that could change with demand for the film and if the producers want to add more screenings.
“This will be the only screening in New Mexico right now,” he says. “It should then after be released with either HBO or Showtime, who have been interested in the documentary.”
Paisner says long before Jackson got involved with the documentary, the festival was already in talks with Alcazar and others.
“This is a film that we’ve wanted to show at the festival,” Paisner says. “Not only is it done by a New Mexican, it tells a piece of New Mexico sports history. It also encompasses all that we are trying to do with the festival.”
Alcazar says he feels lucky to have been able to tell Tapia’s story and get all the interviews done before Tapia’s death.
“Johnny knew he had to tell his story,” Alcazar says. “Now we’re bringing his story to the world.”
Community cinema: New Mexico PBS and the Latino Education Task Force are presenting a public screening of “The Graduates/Los Graduados” at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 25 and Oct. 30 at the KiMo Theatre, 423 W. Central. The two-part special examines the many roots of the Latino dropout crisis through the eyes of six inspiring young students who are part of an ongoing effort to increase graduation rates for a growing Latino population.
These student profiles offer a first-hand perspective on the challenges facing many Latino high school students, including overcrowded schools, crime-ridden neighborhoods, teen pregnancy and pressure to contribute to family finances. Both screenings are free and open to the public. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.