Kevin Willmott – Jorgensen Guest Filmmaker Lecture
October 15, 2013
IU Cinema and the Black Film Center/Archive welcome Kevin Willmott for the Jorgensen Guest Filmmaker Lecture. The event will be conducted with the participation of English Professor De Witt Kilgore. The event is free and open to the public.
For almost 15 years Kevin Willmott has independently written, produced and directed films that critically examine American’s racial history and its associated images. He works in a variety of cinematic genres, exploiting their potential to represent characters and subjects generally avoided by mainstream cinema. As a native Kansan, Willmott is also committed to producing stories situated in the landscape and history of Kansas. This Midwestern aspect of his filmmaking reminds us of the potential of cinema to reveal a deep structure that is local and particular.
Kevin Willmott grew up in Junction City, Kansas and attended Marymount College receiving his BA in Drama. After graduation, he returned home, working as a peace and civil rights activist, fighting for the rights of the poor, creating two Catholic Worker shelters for the homeless and forcing the integration of several long standing segregated institutions. He attended graduate studies at New York University, Tisch School of the Arts, receiving several writing awards and his M.F.A. in Dramatic Writing. Willmott is now an Associate Professor in the Film Studies Department of Kansas University.
Willmott’s most critically acclaimed feature film, C.S.A: Confederate States Of America, is about America, had the South won the Civil War. After its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival, IFC Films purchased the film for domestic theatrical distribution. CSA was released theatrically in the U.S. by IFC and was distributed in several foreign countries.
The Only Good Indian, starring Wes Studi (Avatar, Last of the Mohicans), J. Kenneth Campbell (Bulworth, Yulee’s Gold) and newcomer Winter Fox Frank, which premiered at The Sundance Film Festival, is set in Kansas during the early 1900s, and tells the story of a teen-aged Native American boy is taken from his family and forced to attend a distant Indian “training” school to assimilate into White society. When he escapes to return to his family, Sam Franklin, a bounty hunter of Cherokee descent, is hired to find and return him to the institution.
Willmott’s other films include The Battle for Bunker Hill, starring NYPD Blue’s James McDaniel, Saeed Jaffrey (Gandhi), Laura Kirk (Lisa Picard is Famous), Kevin Geer (American Gangster) and Blake Robbins (Oz, The Office) and Ninth Street, an independent feature film starring Martin Sheen and Isaac Hayes, was written, produced and co-directed by Willmott. He also played the role of “Huddie” one of the films main characters.
For television, Willmott co-wrote with Mitch Brian House Of Getty and The 70’s, both mini-series for NBC. The 70’s aired on ABC in May of 2000. In 2005, he produced High-Tech Lincoln, a special which premiered on The History Channel.