Theater Hosts Payson's First Big-Screen Premiere

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The movie "Black Cloud" -- produced and directed by former "NYPD Blue" star Rick Schroder -- will premiere Sunday afternoon at Sawmill Theater in front of an audience of invited guests and cast members.

The movie will not officially be released to a nationwide audience until Oct. 1.

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Rick Schroder

Following Sunday's private showing, from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Mazatzal Casino Bingo Hall, the public is invited to meet some of the actors who appear in the movie.

Payson is a site for a premiere of the movie mostly because of a mid-August meeting at the Mazatzal Casino that was attended by Tonto Apache tribal members, casino officials and Schroder.

During the meeting, the tribe agreed to help sponsor premieres of "Black Cloud" in Phoenix and around the state.

Following the meeting, Schroder made an appearance on KMOG radio. Schroder told the listening audience that former Payson resident Shawn Haught first introduced him to Tonto Apache tribal officials and helped engineer an agreement for the tribe to pick up sponsorship of "Black Cloud."

Schroder said he had approached other Arizona tribes, but all declined to help with the movie.

He said he thought it was ironic that Arizona's smallest tribe was the one to step up with sponsorship.

The movie is an inspirational story about a Native American boxer facing personal challenges as he comes to terms with his heritage while fighting for a spot on the U.S. Olympic boxing team.

According to an Internet movie preview, "Black Cloud feels alone in the world. He's troubled by his uncertain ancestry, and the future is unfolding without direction. The only thing of which he is certain is his passion for fighting. Fortunately for Black Cloud, he has a more than a spiritual guide on his journeys."

That guide, "Bud" his boxing coach, is played by Russell Means. Bud is the driving force for Black Cloud and the one who will help him achieve his dreams.

The movie was made on the Northern Arizona Navajo and Hopi reservations. It features country singing sensation Tim McGraw in his big-screen acting debut. Schroder will make a cameo appearance.

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