by Kevin Willmott
by Kevin Willmott
JAYHAWKERS reveals how a small group of unlikely allies in 1950s Kansas modernized college sports and changed a community.
Director Kevin Willmott will attend the opening night screening of his movie on Friday, April 1 at 7:30 p.m. for a Q&A with the audience following the screening.
Jayhawkers is the new movie from Kevin Willmott, the acclaimed director of C.S.A (Confederate States of America). The film reveals how a small group of unlikely allies in 1950s Kansas modernized college sports and changed a community, serving as a parallel to the Civil Rights Movement that would transform an entire American society. Teams across the country wanted him, and their efforts resulted in the first modern competitive attempt to land a superstar. His goals were to play in an integrated community and to win a national championship. To the dismay of bigger colleges in bigger markets, University of Kansas (KU) was his final choice – the place where he could learn from the man who created the modern game, and learned coaching from the inventor of basketball himself - James Naismith. While most people know that Wilt Chamberlain was a gifted athlete, the full extent of his gifts – both physical and intellectual – are rarely understood. There was simply no one like him, certainly not before, and according to many sports enthusiasts, not since. What Wilt Chamberlain could do bordered on the magical – a seven foot giant who could bring the ball down the court, could leap from the foul line to lay the ball through the rim, or could catch a ball thrown from behind the backboard and drill it through. He so frightened the traditionalists that rules were changed to protect the game. Famed sportswriter Jimmy Breslin even asked in a column, “Can Basketball Survive Wilt Chamberlain?” During his years at University of Kansas, hounded by the media and fans alike, Wilt created a second world, in the black community of Kansas City jazz music and nightlife. Naive to the institution of segregation, Wilt Chamberlain almost left Kansas before he started when he discovered that Lawrence, Kansas was a world separated by black and white. That bleak reality threatened to strain his relationship with Coach Phog Allen, but with the backing and support of Chancellor Murphy, his presence helped to change a community. The movie’s emotional climax comes during the triple overtime 1957 National Championship bout between the University of Kansas Jayhawks and their bitter rivals from The University of North Carolina, a game that is decided in the final seconds, and one that has been called the greatest in college history.
Blake Robbins, Jay Karnes, Justin Wesley, Kip Niven, Trai Byers
1 hour, 40 minutes
Assisted Listening Devices Available
Apr 1 through Apr 7
Tickets are available for purchase online.Buy Tickets