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CMI professor to make film about Mayfield High School hero Canaan Bower


Canaan Bower was a Mayfield High School wrestling champion who gained international prominence at age 16 after stopping a kidnapping. But two years later, he died in a motorcycle crash.

Ross Marks, a film professor in NMSU’s Creative Media Institute, will honor Bower in a feature film he plans to shoot in Las Cruces in the summer of 2024.

On March 25, 2020, Bower, an MHS junior home from school, went to a gas station in Doña Ana, Marks said in a news release. “When he came out of the building, he heard a woman screaming at Chucky’s Gas Station which was across the street. Fearlessly, Bower ran into Chucky’s and stopped the would-be kidnapper, wrestling him to the ground and holding him harmlessly until the police arrived. The story made the news all over the world.”

Bower was honored by The Carnegie Hero Fund Commission, Ultimate Fighting Championship President Dana White, USA Wrestling, Doña Ana County and the City of Las Cruces for his bravery, Marks said.

“Dad, that woman and her kids needed help. I’m not a hero.”  Bower is quoted as saying.

Marks will direct “Canaan” – the Canaan Bower Story” with a budget of $5-7 million, he said.

“Much of the cast and crew will be from Las Cruces,” Marks said. “My goal is always to grow the film industry in southern New Mexico, creating jobs and opportunities here. This film helps me with that mission.”

The film will be produced by Marks Rio Road Productions, Keagan Karnes Inspirado and Mary Haarmeyer, who is writing the script for “Canaan.” Marks, Karnes and Haarmeyer are collaborating on the upcoming films “The Santa Assist” and “Vengeful,” shooting back-to-back in Las Cruces in the fall of 2023.

“Canaan’s story is a powerful tale of heroism, faith, and family,” Marks said. “He was much more than one act of great bravery. It is a very inspirational tale. It is important to tell Las Cruces stories to the world. And Canaan’s is one of the best.”

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