Live Session: Kansas University film professor Kevin Willmott, co-writer of Spike Lee’s Chi-raq – The Hype Magazine

Live Sessions

Published on June 6th, 2016 | by Jerry Doby

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Live Session: Kansas University film professor Kevin Willmott, co-writer of Spike Lee’s Chi-raq

Old Father Studios, University of KansasFirmly ensconced in the middle kingdom so to speak, #HypeKansas, screenwriter, director and film professor Kevin Willmott is somewhat of a hidden gem for the midwest. This University of Kansas film department educator holds the mantle as co-writer of one of the most talked about films in current day, Spike Lee’s Chi-Raq and his upcoming release Destination: Planet Negro due out June 10, 2016, may have the just the spark to evolve the conversation to a new level.

Akin to another Kansas filmmaker, Gordon Parks, Willmott addresses black issues but in a less visceral manner. His claim to fame is presenting issues in a less aggressive, in your face manner, but with all the setup and impact of a Paul Mooney riff on stage.

Immersed in visual metaphor and satirical lines delivered with the punch of a wrecking ball, Destination: Planet Negro should rapidly transport viewers and reviewers out of the cinema doldrums we’ve been experiencing. I look for the film to give aware minds some inspiration to actively elevate the unity movement from talk to action.

Two key lines from Destination: Planet Negro stand out as talking points I’m forecasting to kick things off:

One: “We just can’t live with these folks.”

Two: “Well, they aren’t killing us like they used to.”

With those two lines as part of our discussion for this exclusive Live Session, Professor Willmott digs in and shares with us why he’s in film and how he tames his anger as he’s creating films like the award winning C.S.A. : Confederate States of America; Only Good Indian; Ninth Street and Bunker Hill. He also delves into the “State of Urban” as it relates to film and media.

FYI, we’ve got some bonus segments with Kevin Willmott discussing what new filmmakers should have in mind when coming into the film world so stay tuned for more from our #HypeKansas featured creative!!!

About Professor Willmott

Kevin Willmott, co-writer of Spike Lee’s Chi-raq and director of the award-winning mockumentary CSA: The Confederate States of America, releases DESTINATION: PLANET NEGRO!  this June on Candy Factory Films.  Willmott wrote, directed and stars IMG_4263in the thought-provoking satire on race and American society, which also stars Trai Byers (Andre Lyons in “Empire”) and Wes Studi (Showtime’s “Penny Dreadful” and Avatar).  Winner of a Special Jury Prize at Dallas Videofest, DESTINATION: PLANET NEGRO! will be available via VOD and digital HD on all leading digital platforms on June 10, 2016.

About Destination: Planet Negro

CO-WRITER OF SPIKE LEE’s CHI-RAQ, KEVIN WILLMOTT, WRITES, DIRECTS AND STARS IN NEW SATIRE ON RACE, DESTINATION: PLANET NEGRO! 

OFFBEAT COMEDY ALSO FEATURES “Empire” STAR TRAI BYERS AND “Penny Dreadful” ACTOR WES STUDI

 FILM AVAILABLE VIA VOD AND DIGITAL HD ON JUNE 10ON ALL LEADING DIGITAL PLATFORMS

VIA CANDY FACTORY FILMS

The clever comedy spoofs history while addressing today’s very real societal issues, opening in 1939 when Jim Crow laws prompt black leaders W.E.B. DuBois and George Washington Carver to devise a utopian plan to leave Earth and colonize Mars.  Paying homage to early sci-fi movies, a campy and comical spacecraft carries an improbable crew of three that jumps into a time warp instead of heading to Mars, landing its brave scientist-astronauts in modern day Kansas City.  Many of the film’s laugh-out-loud moments come when the brilliant men discover changes on the surface of American culture (super baggy pants, President Barack Obama), but DESTINATION: PLANET NEGRO! reveals the sobering reality that things may not have changed since 1939 as much as they seem.

Featuring a talented ensemble cast which The Chicago Tribune called “a cunning group of actors expert at deploying side-eye reactions and deadpan one-liners”, the film stars Willmott as Dr. Warrington Avery, Trai Byers (Andre Lyons in “Empire”, Selma) as B-12, Tosin Morohunfola (“Chicago Med”) as Dr. Race Johnson and Danielle Cooper as Beneatha Avery.  Co-stars include Wes Studi (Showtime’s “Penny Dreadful”, Avatar) and Walter Coppage (Jayhawkers, The Association).

About Candy Factory Films

Candy Factory Films is a forward-thinking, filmmaker-friendly multimedia company dedicated to producing and distributing high impact, unique and compelling films.  Embracing emerging distribution trends to successfully promote releases, Candy Factory is at the forefront of a new vanguard of independent distributors maximizing profit by reaching distinct audiences in numerous ways.  With a catalog stocked with award-winning and acclaimed films across every genre, they’re committed to creating and fostering communities around independent and progressive cinema.  Avenues for distribution include all leading digital platforms including Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, iTunes and the national Video on Demand platform on cable television.


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About the Author

Editor-in-Chief of The Hype Magazine, and internationally published arts & entertainment journalist. Member of the U.S. Department of Arts and Culture as well as the United States Press Corps.


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