005 Chess in Film: The Executive Producer of "Critical Thinking," Carla Berkowitz

chess entertainment Feb 22, 2022


In 2020, the chess world was gifted an extaordinary film. 

Yet not nearly enough of us saw it. 


The pandemic blunted its theater release.

So, it never received the attention it deserved.

That movie is Critical Thinking, starring John Leguizamo, who also directed the movie.

The film is about the true story of a high school chess teacher who leads the first inner-city school to win a US National Chess Championship.

But even more than that, Leguizamo’s real-life character, Mario Martinez, uses the lessons of chess to guide his students to a better life.

In this episode, I chat with the film's creator and Executive Producer, Carla Berkowitz. We discuss:

  • The amazing story of how it took 20 years for the film to get made.
  • Behind-the-scenes of recreating realistic chess for a Hollywood film.
  • The profound life lessons of chess.
  • How chess serves as a refuge for those struggling in life.
  • Will there be a "sequel" to this film?

NOTE: There are no spoilers in the interview, so you can enjoy it without seeing the film. But you’ll get even more out of our discussion if you see it first. So, to that end...

Here is the Trailer for Critical Thinking


Rent or Watch the Film Here:




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