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John Waters, Kevin Willmott and more to be featured at Free State Festival; tickets on sale now

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In-person appearances by filmmaker John Waters, comedian Cameron Esposito and musicians The Black Creatures are among some of the highlights of Free State Festival’s Act Two.

And no Lawrence-based film celebration would be complete without Kevin Willmott, the Oscar-winning University of Kansas professor of film and media studies.

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Organizers have planned “An Evening of Oscars: Celebrating Kevin Willmott and Oscar Micheaux,” who was a Black silent film pioneer, on April 13.

“Join Kevin Willmott and film critic Lonita Cook for a conversation about Micheaux’s influence on cinema as a whole and Kevin’s career in particular,” according to the festival’s website.

Free State Festival / Contributed Image Oscar Micheaux and Kevin Willmott

“After a short intermission, we’ll return for a community tribute featuring clips from Willmott’s films from the early indie Ninth Street, the Sundance smash hit CSA (C.S.A.: The Confederate States of America) and his Oscar award-winning screenplays in collaboration with Spike Lee. Enjoy remarks by some of his closest collaborators, and get off your feet for a live music finale by acclaimed sonic duo, The Black Creatures.”

Tickets are available now for the long-awaited events, scheduled for April 12-16. Organizers hope to “rejuvenate the art of film-going with unique experiences in front of the silver screen.”

“Programming highlights include False Negative, John Waters’ all new comic monologue, an accessible big-screen premiere of Aorta of an Archivist accompanied by live audio description and American Sign Language interpretation, … a spotlight on Indigenous Cinema, a short film tea and pastry pairing, and standup comedy by Cameron Esposito,” according to a news release about the festival.

Find the full schedule of events — and even meet this year’s interns — at freestatefestival.org. To jump straight to ticket info, check this link.

Proof of vaccination against COVID-19 will be required to attend all festival events. Full COVID safety protocols are available on the Lawrence Arts Center website.

The Free State Festival is produced by the Lawrence Arts Center in partnership with organizations such as the Spencer Museum of Art, the Audio-Reader Network, Kansas Public Radio Liberty Hall, the Lied Center of Kansas, the University of Kansas, Haskell Indian Nations University, Transformations, the Watkins Museum of History, Lawrence Public Library, Lada Salon, the Raven Book Store and Plymouth Congregational Church, according to the release.

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