Magnolia Pictures will premiere “John Lewis: Good Trouble,” a new documentary about the Civil Rights icon and congressional leader, in Tulsa, Oklahoma on Juneteenth. The film, which Magnolia and Participant are distributing, will screen at Circle Cinema, a non-profit organization that operates out of a theater that traces its inception back to 1928.
The screenings will be free and are intended to serve as a bit of counter-programing to President Trump’s political rally on Saturday. That rally ignited a firestorm of controversy because it was originally scheduled to take place on Juneteenth, a holiday commemorating the end of slavery. Tulsa was the site of a race massacre in 1921 that has been called “the single worst incident of racial violence in American history.” The president later moved the date of the rally back by a day.
“Our city is searching for ideas and ways to do peaceful protest of Trump,” Chuck Foxen, film programmer at Circle Cinema, told Variety. “This feels like a powerful way to celebrate the spirit and meaning of Juneteenth.”
In addition, Foxen has reached out to local community leaders and activists to encourage them to speak as part of the screenings. It will offer the film virtually and will operate theaters at 25% capacity in order to allow patrons to social distance and keep the theater free from COVID-19.
Neal Block, Magnolia’s head of marketing and distribution, said the indie studio hopes to partner with other community groups to showcase the film. It will also offer the movie on-demand and in as many theaters as it can access after its debut on July 3. The distribution chief says that Lewis’s story will resonate at a time when people across the country are protesting racism and police violence.
“We think John Lewis’s story is a crucial story to share with Tulsa audiences,” said Block. “Rep. Lewis has been at it for six decades, fighting for equality, and I’m sure he wishes he didn’t have to fight as hard as he still does. His work is sadly, depressingly still relevant at a time when this country is confronting issues of systemic racism.
“John Lewis: Good Trouble” chronicles Lewis’ social activism and legislative action on voting rights, gun control, health-care reform and immigration. It uses both present-day interviews with Lewis, as well as archival footage and interviews with other political leaders, family members, and Congressional colleagues. Lewis represents Georgia’s 5th district. Before entering Congress in 1987, he was chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and played a key role in the Civil Rights movement.