Benedictine College MLK Day Presentation to Feature Noted Film Director Kevin Willmott

Published: Thursday, January 5, 2017

Kevin Willmott on the Benedictine Campus in 2004

Benedictine College and its MLK Day Committee will bring noted writer and director Kevin Willmott to campus for a special presentation on “Dr. King and Being Creatively Maladjusted.” Using a quote and concept from Martin Luther King, Jr., Willmott will explore the concept using examples from his own life experiences and the films he has directed to challenge us all to become better Americans. The event was postponed due to weather and has been rescheduled for Sunday, Jan. 22, at 7:00 p.m. in O'Malley-McAllister Auditorium. It is free and open to the public.

Wilmott, an accomplished playwright and screenwriter, is a Professor of Film and Media Studies at the University of Kansas. He grew up in Junction City, Kansas, and received his BA in Drama from Marymount College in Salina, Kansas. After graduation, he returned home and worked as a peace and civil rights activist, fighting for the rights of the poor, creating two Catholic Worker shelters for the homeless, and forcing the integration of several long standing segregated institutions. He attended graduate studies at New York University, Tisch School of the Arts, receiving several writing awards and his M.F.A. in Dramatic Writing.

As a screenwriter, Willmott has worked with some of Hollywood’s biggest names. He co-wrote Shields Green and the Gospel of John Brown with Mitch Brian and the script was purchased by Chris Columbus' 1492 Productions for 20th Century Fox. He also co-wrote Civilized Tribes for Producer Robert Lawrence and 20th Century Fox. Producer and director Oliver Stone hired Willmott to co-write Little Brown Brothers about the Philippine Insurrection of 1899-1902. He adapted The Watsons Go to Birmingham for CBS, Columbia Tri-Star and Executive Producer Whoopi Goldberg and also adapted the book Marching to Valhalla by Michael Blake for Oliver Stone.

Willmott has also been prolific as an independent filmmaker, generally creating films commenting on civil rights and social justice. Among the many movies he has written, directed and/or produced are Ninth Street, an independent feature film starring Martin Sheen and Isaac Hayes. For his film, C.S.A - The Confederate States of America, about the United States had the South won the Civil War, Willmott worked with Spike Lee. C.S.A. was selected to for the 2004 Sundance Film Festival.

The award-winning The Battle for Bunker Hill, written, directed and produced by Willmott, made a splash in theaters in select cities and at film festivals in 2008. The Only Good Indian, starring Wes Studi, was directed by Willmott. It was selected to the 2009 Sundance Film Festival and has won numerous awards.

Willmott wrote, directed, produced and starred in the comedy spoof, Destination: Planet Negro! The 2010 movie tells the story of African American intellectuals colonizing Mars in 1939. He also wrote and directed Jayhawkers, a 2014 movie set in Lawrence, Kansas, that tells the story of Wilt Chamberlain, Phog Allen, and the 1956 Kansas Jayhawks basketball team. Willmott again worked with Spike Lee on his latest movie, Chi-Raq, which debuted in 2015. The film, co-written by Lee and Willmott, is set in Chicago and is a retelling of Aristophanes’ classic Greek play Lysistrata, in which the women of the city withhold sex as a means to get their men to stop violence.

Founded in 1858, Benedictine College is a Catholic, Benedictine, residential, liberal arts college located on the bluffs above the Missouri River in Atchison, Kansas.  The school is proud to have been named one of America’s Best Colleges by U.S. News & World Report as well as one of the top Catholic colleges in the nation by First Things magazine and the Newman Guide.  It prides itself on outstanding academics, extraordinary faith life, strong athletic programs, and an exceptional sense of community and belonging.  It has a mission to educate men and women within a community of faith and scholarship.