The parent-child relationship is emotionally charged from the moment a person is born. But it becomes especially complex when your single parent is mentally unstable, as is the case for filmmaker Tara Wray. In her first film, Wray travels to rural Kansas in an attempt to reconnect with her mother, Evie, for the first time since Evie s psychotic breakdown five years earlier. She finds a parent still chasing her demons, both real and imagined, struggling to make a career for herself as an abstract artist and searching for the Geodetic Center of the United States, the finding of which, Evie says, will bring about world peace. When Tara takes it upon herself to help in her mother s search, it sets into motion a surprising chain of events that may just rescue Evie from a catastrophic fate and help Tara reconcile with her mother on different terms.
Simple and direct - and emotionally blunt and affecting - MANHATTAN, KANSAS acknowledges that love abides, even when forgiveness is not always easy or possible. --Film Society of Lincoln Center
Painfully intimate, MANHATTAN, KANSAS plumbs a contentious mother-daughter relationship, showing a family s journey from estrangement to reconciliation and posing lingering questions about the line between mental illness and unconventionality. It is an honest look about growing up and letting go ... it is everything a personal documentary should be. --The Austin Chronicle
Anyone who has ever struggled through a long-standing family rift, only to come back together in tentative fashion, should appreciate Tara s low-key and no-frills approach to storytelling. Her self-deprecating attitude only serves to amp up the reality of the tale. This is not a filmmaker aiming for a huge sweeping statement, but a girl with a camera hoping to reconnect with one lonely parent. --efilmcritic.com