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Acclaimed Tommy Lee Jones Film to Screen Sept. 25-28 at UW-Eau Claire

RELEASED: Sept. 12, 2008

scene from "The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada
Julio Cedillo, left, as Melquiades Estrada and Tommy Lee Jones as Pete Perkins in the movie "The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada."

EAU CLAIRE — "The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada" (2005), the award-winning directorial debut of actor Tommy Lee Jones, will be presented Sept. 25-28 at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. The poetic modern-day Western will screen at 6 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. Thursday through Sunday in Davies Theatre.

Jones stars as Pete Perkins, a veteran cowboy living in a small Texas border town. He becomes friends with Melquiades Estrada (Julio Cedillo) soon after he hires him as a ranch hand. When Estrada is gunned down in mysterious circumstances and hastily buried, Perkins kidnaps the border policeman (Barry Pepper) responsible and forces him to disinter the body. With his captive in tow and the body tied to a mule, Perkins undertakes a dangerous and quixotic journey into Mexico to take his friend's body home.

"'The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada' tells the kind of story that John Huston or Sam Peckinpah might have wanted to film," wrote film critic Roger Ebert in his four-star review. "It begins with a bedrock of loyalty and honor between men, and mixes it with a little madness. In an era when hundreds of lives are casually destroyed in action movies, here is an entire film in which one life is honored, and one death is avenged."

Jones describes the film as "a study of the emotional, psychological, spiritual, and social implications of having an international border running through the middle of a culture." The actor was moved to produce and direct his first feature film after a senseless 1997 murder on the U.S.-Mexico border for which no one was ever charged. Jones befriended screenwriter Guillermo Arriaga ("Amores Perros"), who crafted a script that weaves past and present as it gradually reveals a great friendship, the lonely subterfuge of an illegal migrant's life, and the redemption of a callous, if accidental, killer. Much of the film was shot on Jones' Texas ranch.

"The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada" won Cannes Film Festival awards for Best Screenplay and Best Actor. Presented by the University Activities Commission of the Student Senate, the 121-minute film is rated R.

Admission is $2 for International Film Society members and UW-Eau Claire faculty and staff and $1 for UW-Eau Claire students. Tickets are available at the Service Center (715-836-3727) in Davies Center's east lobby, and will be sold at the door.

Tickets for all campus events are on sale at the Service Center's ticket office in the main lobby of Haas Fine Arts Center. The ticket outlet is open from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, and is closed during holidays and academic breaks.

Information about the campus film series is available online and at the Activities and Programs office, Davies Center 133.

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JS/NW

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