The relationship with one’s mother is usually a charged dynamic from the moment one is born, but the mother-daughter variety can be particularly complex, especially if your single mom is mentally unstable and threatens to kill you when you’re 19 years old. In this first film, first-person documentary, Tara Wray, who was born in the “Little Apple” of Manhattan, Kansas, bravely captures her attempt to reconcile with her mother five years after that threat. “My mother was my entire life…she and I were so close it was difficult to tell where one of us ended and the other began. But we were always running from her demons, both real and imagined,” she confesses. “I was taking care of the person who should have been taking care of me.”
In 2004, she finds her mother, Evie, in a small house in Hunter, Kansas, that she is renting from a local cult. She had chosen to live there to fulfill her quest to find the Geodetic Center of North America but, true to form, keeps wandering around the area without focusing on the exact location. When Tara helps her with her mission, the experience changes Evie’s life. Raw in technique and emotion, Manhattan, Kansas steadfastly articulates the moment we truly see ourselves removed from our parents, the moment when we see who they are beyond the world they created for us. It’s “everything a personal documentary should be,” wrote The Austin Chronicle, and in the end, it proves, indeed, that there’s no place like (a) home.