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CNN Films, HBO Max Arthur Ashe Doc Premiering at VMFA

Two screenings of "Citizen Ashe" will take place June 25.


The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA), CNN Films and HBO Max announced today that the museum will host two free community screenings of "Citizen Ashe," the upcoming documentary film about trailblazing tennis legend and Richmond native Arthur Ashe.

According to a press release: "The public showings are slated for Saturday, June 25, at 10:30 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. in the museum’s Leslie Cheek Theater. The 10:30 a.m. screening will be followed by a panel discussion with co-director/producer/cinematographer Rex Miller, brother Johnnie Ashe and sister Loretta Harris, moderated by historian Dr. Lauranett Lee." Tickets will be free, though reservations are required.

To reserve free tickets to "Citizen Ashe" at the VMFA, visit Theater doors open 30 minutes before each screening. The film is directed by Emmy® Award-winner Rex Miller and Academy Award-nominee Sam Pollard.

“The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts is delighted to partner with CNN Films and HBO Max to present this compelling documentary about one of the country’s greatest athletes,” said Alex Nyerges, VMFA’s Director and CEO, in the release. “The film will be shown in Richmond for the first time, and we invite the community to see it here in the city where Arthur Ashe honed his incredible tennis skills, on courts at historic Brook Field Park.”

The release notes that "Citizen Ashe" will make its Richmond debut two days before the start of The 135th Wimbledon Championships, where Ashe became the first Black man to win a singles title in 1975.

Here's more from the press release:

Told largely in Ashe’s own voice and featuring rare archival film, photography and newsreel coverage of his athletic career, the documentary follows his self-exploration, evolution on race relations, family relationships and the pivotal decisions that shaped his life.

“Growing up in segregated Richmond and playing on segregated courts, Arthur Ashe became a leader in the Black community, advocating for racial equality in the United States and abroad,” said Dr. Monroe Harris Jr., President of VMFA’s Board of Trustees. “As a respected athlete, he defied stereotypes, used his platform to give voice to social justice issues and gave agency to other Black athletes.”

Citizen Ashe also features exclusive, intimate interviews with his wife Jeanne Moutoussamy-Ashe and brother Johnnie Ashe. Tennis legends Billie Jean King, John McEnroe, Donald Dell, Charlie Pasarell and Lenny Simpson and activist Dr. Harry Edwards discuss Ashe’s life and his influence on athletes who came after him.

“I learned that Arthur Ashe was different from who I thought he was in the 1960s. He was more than just a phenomenal tennis player,” said Director Rex Miller. “I wanted this film to shed light on the man. Arthur was also deeply committed to activism and to educating others about HIV/AIDS after he was diagnosed.”