Kevin Willmott likes to make waves. Right now he’s approaching tsunami levels. Last year the noted filmmaker and professor of Film Studies at the University of Kansas made national news for wearing a bulletproof vest to his classes to protest guns being allowed on campus. Terming the policy “insane,” he says he will continue wearing the vest till the law is changed.
Just a four-minute walk from Kansas City’s old First National Bank at Baltimore and 10th Streets —now the home of the downtown Central Library — some of the biggest names in American entertainment once made their way to a small photography studio and a man they trusted to cast them in just the right light. Al Jolson and Eddie Cantor. Fanny Brice and a local ingénue named Billie Cassin (who’d eventually become Joan Crawford).
On a warm evening in late February, the premiere screening of “The Gospel According to Glenn North” played to a packed meeting room at the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art. Many in the audience had come to honor North, the nationally renowned inaugural poet laureate of the 18th & Vine Historic Jazz District, but they left the event with a new appreciation for the talents of the documentary’s creator, artist Harold Smith.
The Mississippi River Flood of 1927 was one of the worst natural disasters in the history of the United States. Hundreds lost their lives and thousands were displaced, land and livelihoods lost, making for another component of the Great Migration, which brought people from the agrarian south to the industrialized northern regions and the opportunities of the West.
“Someday” is a grab-you-by-the-throat short film about a man living several different lives all at once. According to the closing credits his name is Butler, and he is played by Wes Studi, the great Native American actor.