Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX

April 15, 2014

Local reviews ‘Tomato Republic’

Sam Hopkins
Jacksonville Daily Progress

JACKSONVILLE — A Note from reviewer Sam Hopkins (Tater Tot): On April 9, I had the privilege and pleasure of seeing the world premiere of The Tomato Republic, a documentary movie about the 2013 Jacksonville, Texas, mayoral election. The film was entered in the Dallas Film Festival within the Texas subjects division. I only wish that I could have voted on the judges’ panel to give it a first place medal. As it is, the film won the Special Jurist Award, which is a well deserved high honor and will certainly lead to more awards in other film contests.  The P+R production company has an entertaining feature that I will try to help be brought back at a future date for local showings. Since the movie is all about East Texans, it is well worth a look because of the entertaining people who have parts in it.  The film producers and directors have lived in Jacksonville and know their community and culture very well. Take a bow, Jenna Jackson, Whitney Graham Carter, and Anthony Jackson. After seeing my own brief appearance on the screen, please tell Mr. DeMille that I am ready for my close up now.  


The Tomato Republic is a 63 minute, skillfully made documentary film that covers the 2013 mayoral election in Jacksonville, Texas.  The film crew skillfully follows the activities of one citizen who attempts to revitalize a conservative East Texas town that is 30 miles inside the Pine curtain.  Challenger Rob Gowin’s campaign efforts are the central focus of the feature, with background coverage of the other two candidates, incumbent mayor Kenneth Melvin and challenger William Igbokwe.  Gowin’s reactions are shown when he won the primary and after he lost the runoff election.  The film has all the charm and humor of the delicious 2012 movie Bernie, another story about an East Texas headline event. However, this movie exceeds Bernie because it was unscripted and did not use professional actors, yet achieved equally good results.   The citizens’ accented comments are frequently punctuated by the sounds of the many mighty freight trains that roar through the center of town.  After seeing the entertaining, natural acting talents of Rob Gowin, his cousin Kirk Sadler, and County Judge Chris Davis, some Hollywood director may want to sign them up for a sequel.  Since I am a partisan local resident and have a few scenes of my own in the film, I admit that my viewer rating is totally biased in favor of giving this feature the Palme d’Or at Cannes.  In honor of this documentary’s subject, the Potato Head rating scale will change its unit of measure and give this movie a four tomato rave review.

Tater Tot