Sacha Baron Cohen's method of filmmaking is all the rage these days: Put a camera in front of a few typical Americans, and let them make fools of themselves. The latest specimen of the genre is What's the Matter With Kansas?, based on Thomas Frank's book about how conservative political strategists won over the hearts and votes of the middle of the country. But director Joe Winston doesn't use a narrator; instead, the Kansans in this film speak for themselves—with sometimes painful, but endearing, results. After the world premiere, CUNY professor Frances Fox Piven moderates "The Future of Conservatism: A Debate," which pits New York Observer national correspondent Joe Conason and New York Times editor Chris Suellentrop against National Review Online editor Kathryn Jean Lopez and conservative author and editor Ryan Sager.
Thu., Aug. 6, 6:30 p.m., 2009

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