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Patrick SumnerPatrick Sumner
“Civil War on Wheels,” a documentary film directed by Patrick Sumner, will premiere in Kansas City at 7 p.m. Thursday, May 23, at the Tivoli Cinemas Westport, 4050 Pennsylvania, Kansas City, Mo.
Sumner, film producer and director, said the film explores the regional demolition derby subculture and efforts to recognize the ongoing border feud between Kansas and Missouri in the derby arena. The screening is free and open to the public.
“The documentary presents a slice of life into the demolition derby subculture,” Sumner said. “A thread of the Civil War and the border war runs throughout the film. The film doesn’t take a stand for either side, but rather is personal narrative about how our experience of the demolition derbies affected the life of my family.”
He added that there’s good historic content and strong visual information in the film. Plus, it evokes nostalgia for the old muscle cars and the large cars that have since become collector’s items and are no longer used in today’s demolition derbies.
Sumner dates this film project to 2004 and the early days leading to the development of the Crossroads art district where he met Mac McClanahan. The Kansas City, Kan., resident invited Sumner to the demolition derby at the Wyandotte County Fair. Subsequently, he met Greg Clemons whom Sumner describes as “living and breathing the Civil War and demolition derbies.”
Clemons, a demolition derby promoter on the Missouri side, liked the idea of advancing the border competition and mixing in his Civil War interests. He coined what became the film’s title: “Civil War on Wheels.” Sumner was hooked on exploring this subculture, and the idea for the film was born. He directed shooting an estimated 12 hours of video, but for years the film remained “in the can.”
Last year, Sumner invited Chris Snipes to assist with production and editing. They co-produced the 57-minute film with a soundtrack of blue grass, jazz and some blues composed by regional musicians. In April, the film premiered at the Free State Film Festival, Lawrence, Kan. The film with closed captions is scheduled to be aired on regional PBS affiliates. The film will also soon be available for purchase and rental.
Sumner is site manager of Frank Williams Outreach Center, an outreach center for the homeless and persons in need and an affiliate of Wyandot Center, Kansas City, Kan. He points to the interesting juxtaposition in that the outreach center’s Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/FrankWilliamsOutreachCenter) that he manages is positive and peaceful and then there’s Civil War on Wheels Facebook page that he also administers that’s action-packed and full of crashes. For more information about the May 23 showing of “Civil War on Wheels,” email Sumner at email@example.com or see https://www.facebook.com/CivilWarOnWheels.