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In the making of 'Chiraq,' KU professor Kevin Willmott explores race relations through film co-written with Spike Lee

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Growing up in Junction City, filmmaker Kevin Willmott rarely saw black people in film. He didn’t know of any film schools in Kansas or any classes he could take.

To satisfy his interest in film, he and his family went to the movies every weekend. Although the majority of the movie casts were white, he remembers one casting that would change his life.

“[The theater] showed Gordon Parks making ‘The Learning Tree,’ and he was shooting it in Fort Scott, Kansas. When I saw this black man in this cowboy hat from Kansas, making a movie in Kansas about black people in Kansas, it was like ‘Oh, my God,’” Willmott said. “That’s when it’s like you could see yourself being a filmmaker. It was a reality.”

Today, Willmott, a professor in the department of film and media studies, works with one of the most recognizable black filmmakers in Hollywood — Spike Lee. Their newest film, “Chiraq,” premieres in December. Read more.



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