DER Documentary

What's the Matter with Kansas?

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by Laura Cohen & Joe Winston
color, 56 min / 90 min, 2010

Non-profit, K-12, and Individual pricing also available
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Based on Thomas Frank's best-seller, What's the Matter with Kansas? shows how Kansas transformed from an outpost of radicalism to a bastion of hard-core conservatism. Unforgettable characters and their stories shed new light on our nation's political divide.


“★★★½ One of the Ten Best Documentaries of 2009... I've rarely seen a documentary quite like it. It has a point to make but no ax to grind. It doesn't connect the dots, nor does it need to. It takes no cheap shots. It is all there to see. ” Roger Ebert
“Other documentarians have approached the denizens of the heartland as if on safari. The filmmakers spend enough time with those profiled to get a sense of what led them to where they are.” Variety
“Winston presents us with a broad view of Kansas and Kansans. He's chosen to interview people in depth and let them speak at length. That's the mark of a good documentary.” Time Out Chicago
“Carefully cultivating a nonjudgmental tone that's largely free of condescension – no small achievement – the filmmaker's approach pays off in the final reel, when everyone's dilemmas touch us.” Village Voice
“A fascinating and, really, heartbreaking doc... What's beautiful about the movie is its lack of judgment by the filmmakers. They just let their subjects – good people whom you like – talk. Draw your own conclusions.” San Francisco Chronicle
“A funny, smart and important look at the intersection of religion and politics in America today. It's a movie that needs to be seen in both red and blue states, by liberals and conservatives alike.” In These Times
“Suitable for high school classes and college courses in cultural anthropology, political anthropology, and American studies, as well as general audiences.” — Jack David Eller, Anthropology Review Database
“The film would do very well in classes that treat social movements, social change, religion, politics, identity, family, or any other staple of introductory sociology.” Contemporary Sociology: A Journal of Reviews, July 2012

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About the Filmmakers
Laura Cohen is a veteran of film and television production and Joe Winston is the director of Burning Man Festival and This Week in Joe’s Basement. They live and work in Chicago.

Related Resources
Thomas Frank's book What's the Matter with Kansas? How Conservatives Won the Heart of America

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