Almost 400 people attended the world premiere of “Aces & Knaves” at the Halloran Centre for Performing Arts on Monday, much to the delight of filmmaker Jackie Paré.
“I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect premiere,” Paré said. “I was surprised there were so many people given the difficulty of squeezing this into people’s complicated tournament schedules.”
The hourlong film is split into two sections, one focusing on the characters who populate the world of top-level bridge – the Aces – and one that examines the 2015 cheating scandals and aftermath – the Knaves. Virtually all of the people featured in the film, many of them stars of the bridge world, were able to attend the premiere.
“We really enjoyed it a lot,” said Brad Moss. “In the time I’ve gotten to spend with Jackie, I’ve learned she’s competent, capable and passionate. I had high hopes for it, and it exceeded them.”
“It was excellent,” said Joe Grue. “Zia was absolutely great.”
Following the evening screening, a panel discussion was held, featuring Zia Mahmood, Boye Brogeland, Christina Lund Madsen and Paré. Most of the questions were about cheating, Paré said, as people asked Brogeland where things stand with the players who were exposed as cheaters.
Jacob Freeman, an 18-year-old member of the Canadian youth team who also attended, found the cheating story most interesting. “It was interesting to see how Boye went about proving it,” he said. “So many times, player memos you file go nowhere.”
Stephanie Coles, a fellow Canadian, liked the Aces better. “For a very new bridge player, it’s nice to see how people get so hooked on this game,” she said.
Bonnie Brewer, another new player from Memphis, agreed. “I thought it was a cool perspective on that world,” she said. “The emotional aspect of the game, moving on after defeat – that is so true in all of life.”
Grue appreciated that subjects strived to avoid using bridge terms that would be unfamiliar to the initiated – referring to a psyche as a bluff, for example.
“I think she did a really good job making it accessible to people who don’t play bridge and interesting to those who do,” Moss said. “The feedback we’ve heard has all been positive.”
Freeman, however, felt the target audience landed more on one side. “I think it’s a better movie for bridge players than non-bridge players.”
Paré also got several questions about future screenings.
“People reached out to me form all over the world,” she said. “‘Can I show it at my club? At our regional? At the university?’ I would like to make all of that happen. I want this to reach as many people as possible.”
What’s next for the film is Paré needs to figure out licensing fees for the various types of groups who want to screen the film. She encourages anyone interested in scheduling a screening to contact her at email@example.com.