Film leaves locals satisfied

Marta McGonagle of Los Angles, an actress in “Believe in Me,” and John Manulies, a co-producer of the film, take a few moments to chat Thursday evening with Clovis fans at the Clovis Civic Center. (CNJ staff photo: Tony Bullocks)

By Kevin Wilson: CNJ staff writer

The city of Clovis took itself out for a movie, drinks and memories Thursday night.

“‘Believe in Me,’ believe in Clovis,” Clovis/Curry County Chamber of Commerce President Terry Moberly said as he toasted the crowd at Thursday’s party for “Believe in Me,” a film shot in Clovis and Portales.

The VIP reception at the Clovis Civic Center was squeezed between the 5:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. showings of the Robert Collector film that merged Hollywood talent and eastern New Mexico hospitality.

“It was really an extraordinary adventure,” producer John Bard Manulis said after receiving a key to the city, “and I know many of you shared it with us until 2 or 3 in the morning sometimes.”

Moviegoers entered the North Plains Cinema 7 on red carpet, and left with positive feelings about the story of a 1960s Oklahoma girls basketball team.

“It reaches every age,” said Paula Vander Dussen, who had a small role in the movie and laughed off “she’s a star” boasts from her sister-in-law, Heidi Vander Dussen. “It was a good family movie.”

Lupe Dodge of Clovis saw the 5:30 p.m. show and was surprised Rock Staubus Gym was the site of a state title game. She was joined by Marissa Lansford, whose father, Clovis Mayor David Lansford, played an assistant coach, and by Lauren Malloy.

“I was so surprised with how many people I knew in the movie,” Malloy said, “and how well they acted.”

The local connection was recognized even by talent who didn’t call Clovis home. Marta McGonagle, a Texas native who played Cyclones player Sadie York, thought it made the party special.

“What’s great is that everybody at this release party was in the film or knew somebody who was in the film,” McGonagle said. “It’s a release party for everyone.”

Monika Kiser of Clovis was pleased with the film as she left the theater, especially since “they usually don’t make girls basketball movies.”

Across Clovis at the Civic Center, McGonagle echoed Kiser’s sentiments.
“It was uplifting,” McGonagle said, “to be part of something that was empowering and inspiring to women in sports.”