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Arts and Entertainment

Local Loves Docu 'Senna' So Much, She's Offering 100 Free Tickets for You to Go See the Movie With Her on Sunday

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No, this is not a sponsored post, and yes, we checked to make sure this isn't a stunt. It turns out the response to the film Senna has been so profound that people are doing crazy things to show their love, like getting a "Senna" tattoo, or, like Angeleno Laurel Miller, buying 100 tickets to give away so you can go see it with her this weekend.

"Senna," is a documentary on Brazilian Formula One racing driver Ayrton Senna, who won the F1 world championship three times before his death at age 34. Miller says she was most struck by Senna's character both on and off the track. "He was a truly phenomenal talent with a humble spirit; a seemingly rare combination," she explained to us via e-mail. "I've always looked to sports figures who are less interested in fame and legend and more about the science and soul of their craft - even if they aren't the absolute best - for me, they are a far more interesting story, and they are what keeps me watching."

Miller also adds that the film has an inspiring message, no matter what religious beliefs the viewer may have: "The film explores the possibility that because he was deeply religious he was able to put his life in God's hands; I personally took away the idea that he did it because he didn't know how not to do it. Overriding the fear and pushing himself to the limit was the point and regardless if you care about sports or not, that notion is a powerful thing. That is something we can all take away from the film and use in our lives, at those pivotal moments when doubt creeps in."

We asked Miller, who knew nothing of Senna before seeing the film and says she's not even much of a racing fan, why she thinks people should go see the documentary:

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What I can say is: see this film because it's inspiring and it's moving. I think that is often why we go to the movies, or read a book, or listen to a piece of music - because we want to feel something. It's not about happiness and triumph all the time. It's about opening yourself up to experience, to pain and to pleasure. "Senna" is a visceral experience that makes you feel alive.

But to put up $1250 of your own cash to buy 100 tickets to give to strangers? That's an unusual kind of experience, to say the least. Miller explains how she came up with the idea to give up her own hard-earned money to in essence promote the film:

I came up with the idea of giving tickets away because I know how a review or recommendation isn't always enough. Also, people don't like to be oversold on something. Sometimes a zealous review is a turn off and we want to discover little gems for ourselves. I realized I could recommend this movie to my friends until I was blue in the face, but the majority wouldn't go. If they live on the Eastside, it might be the whole trek to the Westside; if they don't know who Senna is, or if they aren't into sports that could be another deterrent. By buying tickets and offering them up, this was a way I could ensure people would come and hopefully feel what I felt. What excuse can you have if there is a ticket waiting for you at one of the best theaters in the world?

Miller, who works in documentaries herself, adds that she's also fueled by a disappointment that her colleagues don't always immerse themselves in the products of their own field. She's also aiming to challenge the stereotype that documentaries aren't worth seeing at the theater. "I hope what this gesture does is to help facilitate a positive in-theater experience of a documentary," Miller explains. "Not all of them are all dry, elongated news segments. Actually, most aren't and if people give them a chance, they can be far more innovative and moving than a traditional narrative film." Miller says "Senna" is the ideal fodder for this exact experience.

"Senna" director Asif Kapadia was "moved" by Miller's gesture, and supports her unique response to the film. She contacted him by e-mail to share with him her reaction to the film, and how she wanted to share it with so many people at once, and at her own expensive. Kapadia said he and his colleagues worked seven years on the film, and feared there would be no audience for their movie in America.

If you want to see "Senna" on Miller's dime, she's picking up 100 tickets today for the 4:50 p.m. showing on Sunday, August 21st, at the Landmark Theater on Pico, with the theatre's blessing. She's set up an e-mail account, so if you'd like a ticket, or a few, drop her a line at with your name and she'll keep a list running with your "reservations." Miller will be with some friends, and a sign that says "Laurel's 'Senna' Tickets," in the lobby next to the Landmark wine bar, and she really hopes her unique plan works.

And if you can't make it Sunday, may you still be inspired: "I hope people will be encouraged by my gesture to buy themselves and a friend a ticket and go see what I think is a movie of a lifetime," says Miller.

See you at the movies! Let us know if you take up Miller on one of her free tickets.

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