The Inspirational True Story of the Students from a Working-Class Neighborhood in Miami that Won the U.S. National Chess Championship is Brought to Life in the Movie “Critical Thinking”

Multifaceted Latin performer John Leguizamo directs the movie and plays the charismatic chess coach who changed his students lives forever.

MIAMI, FL (Dec. 5, 2018) — “Critical Thinking,” directed by and starring John Leguizamo, tells the true story of the remarkable feat accomplished by a Cuban-American teacher who in 1998 took a group of disparate kids from Miami Jackson High School to become the first inner city school to win the U.S. National Chess Championship. The prolific actor, producer, and Emmy Award winner John Leguizamo portrays the teacher Mario Martínez, who through his Critical Thinking class, shows his Latino, African-American, and White students to use their minds to believe in themselves so that they can achieve what they never thought possible.

“Critical Thinking,” which is currently being filmed in Miami, Florida, presents a deep look at the less fortunate lives of these aspiring chess champions, becoming a testament to the belief that every mind is worth cultivating, and no one deserves to be pushed aside. “Critical Thinking” is an immigrant story that also captures the American spirit of resilience as everybody has something positive to contribute to the world.

“Latin and African-American people are highly intellectual, and what this movie brings to light is the fact that so many kids in these neighborhoods are brilliant, and if you nurture them a little bit they can become anything they want,” said director John Leguizamo, known not only for his roles in movies such as “Carlito’s Way” and “Ice Age”, but also for his advocacy for empowering Latinos. “There is a lack of positive Latinx images in the world and I am excited to bring attention to these inspirational stories through this movie.”

Joining John Leguizamo is a talented diverse cast of actors such as Michael K. Williams (The Wire), who portrays Mr. Roundtree, the father of one of the protagonists; Rachel Bay Jones (Ben is Back), the skeptical Principal Kestel, who lacks faith in the abilities of her students; and Jorge Lendeborg Jr. (BumbleBee) as Ito Paniagua, a Dominican troubled student struggling to find his true purpose on the team.

“Critical Thinking,” an independent film scheduled to be released in the summer of 2019, is written by Dito Montiel (FightingBoulevard), produced by Scott Rosenfelt (Home Alone, Mystic Pizza) and Jason Mandl(To Be Friends, Noah’s Arc) and executive produced by Carla Berkowitz, Harvey Chaplin, Emilio Estefan and John Leguizamo.

For more information about “Critical Thinking” visit:www.imdb.com/title/tt7870102/

For more information about John Leguizamo visit: john-leguizamo.squarespace.com

About “Critical Thinking”

The true story of the Miami Jackson High School Chess team which was the first inner city team to win the U.S. National Championship. Director: John Leguizamo. Writer: Dito Montiel.  Producers: Scott Rosenfelt and Jason Mandl.  Stars: John Leguizamo, Michael Kenneth Williams, Rachel Bay Jones, Jorge Lendeborg Jr., Angel Curiel, Will Hochman, Corwin Tuggles, Jeffrey Batista and Ramses Jimenez, among others.

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