Manhattan, Kansas directed by Tara Wray
About the film | About the filmmaker| Tour Dates & Locations | Manhattan, Kansas web site | Audio Interview - 24m:43s (MP3 - 22.7MB)
When she was nineteen years old, director Tara Wray fled her childhood home of Manhattan, Kansas after her mother, in a mentally unstable state, threatened to kill her. “My mother was my entire life,” she says, “But, we were always running from her demons, both real and imagined.” Her mother’s undiagnosed emotional and mental state terrorized Wray for years. “One minute she was Mom—funny, tiny, strong, a pleasure to be around. Mom,” recalls Wray, “Then she was Not-Mom—scary, dark, shrunken, yet huge. I spent my whole life trying to anticipate which one was present, which one might show up next. It made me a pretty tightly-wound kid.” Following five years of estrangement, Wray knew it was time to go back – with her camera.
Manhattan, Kansas delves into the complicated ways family members connect with each other. In the same way that everyone tries to forge relationships with their parents or siblings, Tara Wray desperately wants to connect with her mother. The Film Society of Lincoln Center writes, “Wray’s film articulates the moment we truly see ourselves removed from our parents and see who they are beyond the world they created for us.” According to the Independent Feature Project, the American representative of the Cannes’ Film Festival, “This intimate and engaging documentary acknowledges that love abides, even when forgiveness is not always easy or possible.”
Tara Wray was born and raised in “The Little Apple” of Manhattan, Kansas, and has since relocated to “The Big Apple” itself. Wray took her first plunge into film work, without the formal training of film school, by makingManhattan, Kansas. “The only thing I had going for me,” she says, “was an interest in learning how to make a documentary, and a belief I have a good story to tell.” Knowing the risks she took for her documentary were great, she asserts, “you have to trust your guts and surround yourself with people who know what they’re doing and are willing to help you out.”