DER Documentary

Manhattan, Kansas

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by Tara Wray
color, 78 min, 2006

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The parent-child relationship is emotionally charged from the moment a person is born. But it becomes especially complex when your single parent is mentally unstable, as is the case for filmmaker Tara Wray.

In her first film, Wray travels to rural Kansas in an attempt to reconnect with her mother, Evie, for the first time since Evie's psychotic breakdown five years earlier. She finds a parent still chasing her demons, both real and imagined, struggling to make a career for herself as an abstract artist and searching for the Geodetic Center of the United States, the finding of which, Evie says, will bring about world peace.

When Tara takes it upon herself to help in her mother's search, it sets into motion a surprising chain of events that may just rescue Evie from a catastrophic fate and help Tara reconcile with her mother on different terms.

"A touching portrait of [Wray's] tumultuous relationship with her mentally unstable mother; never self-indulgent, the film shows Wray unabashedly exhibiting her frustration with and love for her mother, in the process creating a story about self-healing and moving on that many will relate to." Filmmaker Magazine, Fall 2008
"[an] evocative personal documentary...that unfolds with increasing resonance; a poetic, universal journey." Utne Reader, November-December 2008
"Painfully intimate, Manhattan, Kansas plumbs a contentious mother-daughter relationship, showing a family's journey from estrangement to reconciliation and posing lingering questions about the line between mental illness and unconventionality. It's an honest look about growing up and letting go... it's everything a personal documentary should be." — Marrit Ingman, The Austin Chronicle
"Manhattan, Kansas is extremely emotional; it will make you question your own relationship with your mother, because there is no such thing as a "normal" relationship. The film has its moments where you will tear up, and Tara's expression of emotion will have you pulling for her and her pursuit for a happy family." — Elizabeth Stannard Gromisch, Feminist Review

Film Festivals, Screenings, Awards
Best Film, Brooklyn Arts Council's 41st International Film and Video Festival, NY, 2007
Audience Award Runner-Up, SXSW Film Festival, Austin, TX (World Premiere), March 2006
Newburyport Documentary Film Festival, MA, 2007
Girl Fest Hawaii, 2007
Port Townsend Film Festival, WA, 2007
Charlotte Film Festival, NC, 2007
Maine International Film Festival, 2007
Biografilm Festival, Bologna, Italy, 2007
Independents Night Film Series, Lincoln Center's Walter Reade Theater, NYC, 2006
Tallgrass Film Festival, Wichita, KS, 2006
Southern Circuit Tour of Independent Filmmakers, 2006/2007
San Francisco Independent Film Festival, San Francisco, CA, 2007
NewFilmmakers Screening Series at Anthology Film Archives, NYC, 2007
Wisconsin Film Festival, 2007
Wagner College, Staten Island, NY, 2007
White River Indie Films, White River Junction, VT, 2007
Biografilm Festival, Bologna, Italy, 2007
Jackson Hole Film Festival, Wyoming, 2007
St. John's International Women's Film Festival, Canada, 2007
Camden International Film Festival, Maine, 2007
India International Women Film Festival, New Delhi, 2007
Regular Company Films, Zagreb, Croatia, 2008
Black Lily Film & Music Festival, Philadelphia, PA, 2008
Broadcast, KPTS, Wichita, KS, 2008
Women & Creativity Film Festival, National Hispanic Cultural Center, Albuquerque, NM, 2008
Peninsula College Screening Series, Port Angeles, WA, 2008
Docúpolis - International Documentary Film Festival of Barcelona, Spain, 2009
The Documentary Channel, American Dreamers series

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