Kansas City FilmFest’s big tickets

Besides Richard Linklater: Dream Is Destiny (read our interview with its co-director here), KC FilmFest is screening several intriguing titles, including established favorites and some that may be poised to join their ranks.

Miles Ahead
6:45 p.m. Friday
KC-born Don Cheadle earned an Oscar nomination for playing a heroic real-life figure in Hotel Rwanda and is probably best-known playing Iron Man’s less impulsive sidekick War Machine in the Marvel Universe movies. He plays a different sort of superhero (as least by musical standards) in Miles Ahead, which he also co-wrote and directed. Cheadle’s take on trumpeter Miles Davis appears to be as daring as the man himself was. Cheadle will be on hand to present the film, as will Chuck Haddix, the host of KCUR 89.3’s The Fish Fry.

7:05 p.m. Saturday
Rudy is a heartwarming real-life story of a diminutive fellow who worked his way up to becoming a benchwarmer for the Fighting Irish. It may also be the first sports movie in which winning — or even being good at a sport — is incidental. As Daniel Ruettiger, Sean Astin (later a star of The Lord of the Rings) hits the right inspirational notes. Screenwriter Angelo Pizzo, who also wrote Hoosiers and directed My All American, will be at the theater for a Q&A and will be conducting a free screenwriting workshop at Unity Temple on the Plaza at 10:15 a.m. Saturday.


7 p.m. Thursday
Gordon Parks Elementary
3:20 p.m. Saturday
University of Kansas film professor Kevin Willmott, who took the hilariously disturbing CSA: Confederate States of America to Sundance, teams up with director Spike Lee to set Aristophanes’ ancient Greek play Lysistrata in contemporary Chicago. When two gangs turn the Windy City into a killing field, a young woman named Lysistrata (Teyonah Parris) teams up with the lovers of rival gang leaders and starts a sex strike to deter the bloodshed. As with Lee’s Do the Right Thing, Chi-Raq makes overkill a virtue. The festival is awarding Willmott for a series of cleverly uncomfortable films, and he’ll be there for the screening.

For Gordon Parks Elementary, Willmott follows the closing of a Missouri charter school that served economically disadvantaged students. The school was named for local icon Gordon Parks, who made significant breakthroughs as a writer, photojournalist and film director. Willmott’s documentary deals with how the staff of the school and the families in the neighborhood try to deal with the soon to be closed building.

Dazed and Confused
9:45 p.m. Saturday
Richard Linklater’s second feature film was his first for a major studio, but Universal didn’t quite know what to make of the Texas-set story of high school freshmen who endure hazing before chilling out with a few tokes when it’s all over. They’d had similar issues with George Lucas’ American Graffiti 20 years earlier. Both movies are still fun to watch decades later. Jason London, who stars as Pink in the film, sits for a Q&A after the screening.