Kansas film news, take one — A movie inspired by "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" is having its world premiere with events this weekend in Kingman.
"After the Wizard" is based on characters created by L. Frank Baum, and more closely follows the book's mythology than the classic 1939 musical, starring Judy Garland, did.
This film's original story follows the plight of a 12-year-old girl named Elizabeth who lives in an orphanage in Kingman. She is a fan of the "Oz" novel, but also believes she is the real-life Dorothy.
Meanwhile back in the "real" Oz, things have not gone well for the Scarecrow, Tin Woodman and Cowardly Lion. Oz is in trouble and they believe that Dorothy is the only person who can help them, so the Scarecrow and Tin Woodman leave Oz to search for Dorothy in Kansas. In their cross-country trek, they meet lots of colorful characters, including children they mistake for munchkins.
The film, which stars Jermel Nakia, Orien Richman, P. David Miller and Jordan Van Vranken, —all Screen Actors Guild members — was headquartered in Kingman during the Kansas portion of its shoot in 2010. It drew more than 200 volunteers from the area, and also was shot in Pretty Prairie, Hutchinson and Topeka.
Los Angeles-based writer/director Hugh Gross said he and the production crew felt very welcome in Kansas, and that Kansans' assistance "made a big difference in the quality of the movie."
He said that's why the film is being premiered in Kingman, "as a way to reciprocate for the tremendous support that we received."
"After the Wizard" (which filmmakers are calling "family-friendly") premiered in two screenings on Saturday, but other events continue through Monday.
Another screening starts at 1:30 p.m. today at the Kingman Theater, 237 N. Main Street in Kingman; admission is free. A Q&A session with Gross and cast members will follow at 4 p.m. today at Livingston Price Family Center, 1830 N. Main Street, in Kingman (admission is free). That will be followed by a hamburger feed ($5 adults; $3 children), ice cream social, pool party for children and fireworks (all of which are free).
On Monday, a meet-and-greet party will start at 12:30 p.m. at Pretty Prairie Civic Theatre, 105 W. Main Street in Pretty Prairie, followed by a screening at that theater at 1:30 p.m. Admission to both events is free.
For more information, go to www.afterthewizard-themovie.com.
Kansas film news, take two — Prolific Wamego-based filmmaker Steve Balderson premiered his latest film "The Casserole Club" in New York City at VisionFest to a sold-out screening last weekend.
The story focuses on a group of 1960s-era suburban housewives who start a recipe club and hold dinner parties. But when the gatherings become increasingly focused on boozy flirtation, chaos and jealousy ensue.
The film won five awards at the festival's Independent Vision Awards on closing night, including best picture, best director, best actor (ex-Backstreet Boys singer Kevin Scott Richardson — seriously), best actress (Susan Traylor) and best production design.
Balderson has made a name for himself with his at times campy and surreal films. His last was the women-in-prison drama "Stuck!"
For more information on "The Casserole Club" and other upcoming screenings, go to www.dikenga.com.