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Background Image Two men walking through prairie landscape

Kansas: An Eclogue

By Patrick Ross

Two native Kansans, Patrick Ross and Joshua Nathan, graduates of the University of Kansas seeking careers in the film industry, find themselves splitting rent on a house in LA—where Kansas is generally thought of as something you fly over. It’s not long before a plan emerges to return to Kansas in search of a story that would reveal this place they love to a seemingly uncaring world.

Burdened with backpacks weighing about 60 pounds each, filled with camping gear, nutrients and camera equipment, they step from the train onto the Garden City station platform. It is the beginning of what becomes a seven-week walking tour. Their goals: to experience the state organically, to capture the beauty inherent in nature, to be ferried by generous Kansans, to be free from itinerary, and to remove themselves (mostly) from modern luxuries. 

The shepherds of Kansas, the citizens who live there, reveal to these wayfarers the state’s treasures, its stories, its people who shaped the world, and the potential the state holds for the future.

In addition to filming landscapes and wildlife, they engage in a montage of interviews with individuals from a variety of experiences including, among others, farmers, an artist/paleontologist, a boxer, a Nicodemus park ranger, a missile silo renovator, a botany professor, a writer, a political activist, a blacksmith, a librarian, a hatmaker, a retired judge-turned-museum-curator, and a poet and scholar/translator of classic Greek literature. 

At trail’s end Patrick and Joshua have about 40 hours of video to review, sort, and edit down to a rough-cut of a film, weaving selected excerpts from this massive collection into a meaningful story. Patrick and Joshua partnered with Steve Nowak, Executive Director of the Watkins Museum of History in Lawrence, to apply for and receive a Humanities For All grant from Humanities Kansas in support of the film.

The resulting film, Kansas: An Eclogue, a feature-length documentary still in development, examines Kansas from the perspectives of the state’s natural and human history, its community and rural culture, and its future. The narrative is an encounter with the land and its people, ranging from pre-historic times as an inland sea to its time as a frontier in the nation’s westward expansion; from events of bleeding Kansas to life in the 20th century; from issues of the present day to its future potential. 

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