The Free State Festival is for everyone. Through year-round educational outreach to the Boys and Girls Club and Van Go Inc., the Lawrence Arts Center teaches children from a wide variety of backgrounds to tell their stories through film and digital media.  With a traveling “Best of the Fest” roadshow that visits both urban and rural areas throughout the state, the Lawrence Arts Center ensures that all Kansans have a chance to experience a taste of Free State.


In 2014 and 2015, the Lawrence Arts Center joined forces with 44 students from Boys and Girls Club of Lawrence and Van Go Inc. to produce 18 short films for the Free State Festival. Working closely with Film Festival Artistic Director Marlo Angell in intensive weekly classes in digital filmmaking, the students used skills gained in screenwriting, cinematography, sound recording, editing and sound design in narrative and documentary filmmaking. The shorts narrate a wide and poignant range of youth experience, tapping Lawrence as a common element and backdrop of the films. The apprentice filmmakers from Van Go Inc. also engaged in a behind-the-scenes experience in film festival operations by screening, evaluating and making curatorial decisions about submissions to the Free State Festival's youth film showcases.


The Free State Festival “Best of the Fest” showcases the Festival’s award winning short films and filmmakers by taking them on tour throughout Kansas. Bringing cinematic highlights and thoughtful conversations between filmmakers and Festival staff to underserved areas of the State, the “Best of the Fest” screenings are FREE and open to the public. Screening locations in 2014-2015 include Bethel College, the Marianna Kistler Beach Museum of Art at Kansas State University, the Lawrence Public Library, and Haskell Indian Nations University. To schedule a “Best of the Fest” screening in your area, click to contact Marlo Angell.