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Filmmaker Patrick Wang chats with Prof. Theodore Swetz, the Patricia McIlrath Endowed Chair in Theater Arts

Hollywood at Home

Red carpet premiere event benefits LGBTQIA scholarships

The New York Times review called it “one of the most accomplished and undersold directorial debuts this year.”

Robert Butler, dean of Kansas City’s film review community, called it “the ‘Citizen Kane’ of domestic issue films.”

Star Kelly McAndrew – an alumna of the Department of Theatre at the University of Missouri-Kansas City – calls it simply “a beautiful movie.”

The film is “In the Family,” and McAndrew was the UMKC connection who was chiefly responsible for bringing the film to Kansas City for a gala red carpet premiere event April 17 to raise money for the university’s LGBTQIA Scholarship.

“In the Family” is an acclaimed independent film depicting a custody dispute between a gay man and his deceased partner’s family over his late partner’s biological son. McAndrew plays the dead father’s sister, the executor of his estate.

The premiere event drew a crowd from the UMKC Theatre, local film and LGBTQIA communities, who had the opportunity to meet and chat with McAndrew and writer/director/star Patrick Wang over dinner and cocktails at Californos. Then came a spring evening stroll up Pennsylvania Avenue from the restaurant to the nearby Tivoli Cinemas theater for the red carpet photo op with the stars and a showing of the film.   

McAndrew said the event concept came about from conversations in New York, where she lives, with Karen English, UMKC’s Director of Advancement for the College of Arts & Sciences.

“She thought it would be the perfect way to get me back to UMKC, bring the film to Kansas City and do a fundraiser,” McAndrew said. The event was her first trip back to Kansas City since performing at the Unicorn Theatre in 1999.  

“I really believe in the film,” McAndrew said. “It’s a beautiful movie. It’s inspirational in terms of the way that it is made. The story is complicated, moving and important.”

Filmmaker Wang said he was delighted to offer his film as a fundraising tool for an LGBTQIA scholarship. He said such scholarships are an important form of recognition and validation for a young person.

“Those kinds of scholarships didn’t exist when I was in school,” Wang said. “It’s important because it tells you that you exist, and that others recognize value in that part of you.”

McAndrew, who earned a master’s degree from UMKC Theatre in 1998, was greeted warmly by several of her former teachers, and said she was excited to be back.

“My training at UMKC was invaluable. I had just amazing teachers,” McAndrew said. “I loved going to school here and I loved the city. I thought I would be back more; I’ve just been lucky enough to keep working.”

“In the Family” will open at the Tivoli for a special one-week-only engagement April 20-26.  Show times will be available at the Tivoli website.

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"Those kinds of scholarships didn’t exist when I was in school. It’s important because it tells you that you exist, and that others recognize value in that part of you."

Filmmaker Patrick Wang

Above, Dr. Howard Martin, adjunct professor in the departments of Theatre and Communications; and Dr. Felicia Hardison Londre, Curators' Professor of Theatre, were among the guests at the premiere party. Below, director-writer-star Patrick Wang and star-UMKC alumna Kelly McAndrew posed on the red carpet at the Tivoli.