Some independent films on the horizon in Wichita:
Crop art king — Kansas' own Stan Herd is the subject of the independent film "Earthwork."
It dramatizes his journey from Kansas to New York in 1994, when he risked everything to create a massive environmental artwork on land owned by Donald Trump. The multi-acre piece was made from soil, rock, plants and vegetation near an underground railway tunnel.
Herd recruited a number of homeless people as his crew. Over the months it took to complete the work, he dealt with the difficulties of bringing his rural art form to an urban canvas and with how the endeavor affected his life.
Herd later went on to international fame.
"Earthwork" stars John Hawkes (who received an Oscar nomination last year for his performance in "Winter's Bone") as Herd, and it's directed by University of Kansas alum Chris Ordal. The film has played at more than 40 film festivals across the country and has won more than 20 "best feature film" awards.
It will screen at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday at Murdock Theatre, 556 N. Broadway. Tickets are $8. For more information, go to www.murdocktheatre.com.
Unlocking the pain — Kristin Scott Thomas (who received an Oscar nomination for "The English Patient") has been getting raves for her performance in " Sarah's Key" as Julia Jarmond, an American journalist working in Paris who is assigned to write an article about the disastrous Vel d'Hiv roundup in 1942 Paris, when French officials rounded up more than 10,000 Jews and placed them in concentration camps.
In a dual timeline, we follow 10-year old Sarah Strazynski and her family as they are being arrested. She quickly hides her younger brother in a closet, but later realizes that she won't be allowed to go back home, so she does whatever she can to get back to her brother.
Meanwhile, in 2009, Julia's research takes her to her father-in-law's childhood apartment, which she discovers once belonged to the Strazynski family. She vows to find out what happened to Sarah and her family.
The film's limited release brings it to Wichita this week; it's now playing at the Warren Theatre (east). Go to www.kansas.com/movies for showtimes.
Other upcoming indies — The Warren Theatre (east) also tells me these independent/art house films are coming soon:
* "The Guard" — Brendan Gleeson ("In Bruges") and Don Cheadle ("Iron Man 2") star in this comedy about an unorthodox Irish policeman with a confrontational personality who is teamed up with an uptight FBI agent to investigate an international drug-smuggling ring. The film opens Friday.
* "Restless" — Quirky director Gus Van Sant ("Milk") returns with this story about a terminally ill teenage girl who falls for a boy who likes to attend funerals, and their encounters with the ghost of a Japanese kamikaze pilot from World War II. Mia Wasikowska ("Alice in Wonderland") stars. The film is slated to open Oct. 7.