Movie News & Reviews

KC Fringe films find humanity

“We Are Superman” highlights progress at 31st Street and Troost Avenue.
“We Are Superman” highlights progress at 31st Street and Troost Avenue.

While “fringe” refers to the peripheral or extreme, the film portion of KC Fringe takes a more holistic approach. Humanistic, even.

Subjects include the impact of good Samaritans on a racially divided neighborhood and a rumination about the global impact of “oneness.”

But don’t worry, there are also short thrillers and rap-rock videos in the mix.

Here is a look at the movies and compilations playing the fest, each of which will screen multiple times:


Filmmaker Sue Vicory takes a fringe idea to the extreme in “One,” her documentary that makes its premiere at the fest.

She asked 25 individuals from different walks of life five basic questions:

1. How would you define the word “one”?

2. Do you feel that you are a significant part of humanity?

3. Do you feel that you have impacted humanity?

4. What will be your legacy to humanity?

5. What one act of oneness has changed your life or the lives of a loved one?

From those 25 interviews, she created a tapestry that allowed all of her subjects (12 of whom were taped in KC) to voice their perspectives. The result is a movie she says documents the importance of “global humanity.”

“Our acts of kindness resonate somewhere to someone for all of time,” the former Kansas City resident says. “I started with the title ‘One.’ After I determined that it could be an interesting topic to explore, it morphed into a desire to see what others thought connected us as human beings.”

Vicory will take part in a Q&A following the first two screenings (Saturday and Sunday).

She adds, “The hardest part was stopping because each interview was so inspiring that I could have gone on and on and on.”

“We Are Superman”

Superman is associated with Smallville, Kan., but in the new documentary “We Are Superman: The Transformation of 31st and Troost” his name is invoked when discussing Kansas City, Mo. Director Kevin Bryce reveals many local superheroes who worked tirelessly to transform a racially divided area — the stigmatized 31st Street and Troost Avenue — into a community gathering place. The documentary earned Bryce and producer Christopher Cook the 2013 Emerging Filmmakers Award at the Kansas City FilmFest. As the film’s tagline states: “Sometimes to save a city, it takes a village.”

IFC at the Fringe

The Independent Filmmakers Coalition has spent decades promoting local filmmaking. Here, the group highlights short projects created by members. The lineup was still being formulated at the 11th hour, but IFC president Dustin Adair says, “We are trying to make sure it is all ‘original content’ — i.e. not screened at IFC events before.”

Best of Reel Spirit

The voices of youth are given a podium in Best of Reel Spirit. The video production compiles the top entries culled from the youth division of the Kansas City FilmFest over the past three years. Participants range from grades two through 12, stylistically tackling documentaries, narratives, animation and commercials. The work not only showcases cinematic technique but emphasizes creativity and innovation.

Kansas City Jazz & Blues

“Jazz may have been born in New Orleans, but it grew up in Kansas City” — so proclaims “Kansas City Jazz & Blues; Past, Present & Future.” The documentary (also by Vicory) features footage from legends such as Big Joe Turner and Jay McShann to modern greats Bobby Watson and Karrin Allyson. It premiered at the Gem Theater in 2010 and has since aired on PBS. The 65-minute picture follows the city’s musical heritage from the 1920s to current day, examining how its cultural influence was felt across the nation.

Smoking Monkey Pictures Music Festival

A quick Google search of the phrase “Smoking Monkey Pictures” will deliver many haunting images of simian tobacco addicts, but it also introduces a KC-based film company of the same name. Now in its third year of screening at the fringe fest, the company has assembled three programs highlighting music videos produced by area musicians. Smoking Monkey’s David Berry promises “all sorts of different kinds of music in the fest: rock, musicals, country, rap, moody.

Films at KC Fringe

All films will be shown Thursday through July 27 at Screenland Crown Center, 2450 Grand Blvd. Go to for show times and ticket prices.

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