Kansas City FilmFest 2014 – ‘Slingshot’

by Trey Hock on April 8, 2014

in Print Reviews,Reviews

Filmmaker, Film aficionado and contributor to Scene Stealers, Will Findley got the chance to see Paul Lazarus’ documentary Slingshot which is playing at the Kansas City Film Festival on April 10 at 6:10 PM and April 12 at 5:00 PM. Here is Will’s take on the film.

The guy that invented the Segway? Didn’t he drive one off a cliff and die?

As it turns out, Dean Kamen, is alive and well. He is also the inventor of the battery powered insulin pump and the home dialysis machine, but nobody really talks about those. Kamen’s newest ‘over-night-success,’ is the Slingshot, and for some reason, no one is talking about it either.

Kamen and his team have been working on the device since the early 2000s. What started as a way to make home dialysis more efficient and affordable, quickly became what is now known as the Slingshot. The machine can turn any water source, regardless of contamination into pure, medical grade water. Kamen immediately saw the use for a machine of this kind, and began pushing to have them in use in developing countries around the world. But the reality is: giving the whole world free, clean water isn’t cheap.

Filmmaker Paul Lazarus constructs the film around Kamen’s struggle with financial and political support for the Slingshot, while balancing his work on his other inventions, and the development of his organization FIRST, which brings robotics and engineering into high schools. Interviews with many members of Kamen’s family, including his parents and siblings, shed light on his childhood and upbringing, all coming together for a very balanced and engaging look at the denim-clad inventor.

Kamen cited an inspiration for FIRST being a series of conversations he had with families attending the science museum he developed. He was shocked that none of them could name a single scientist or engineer, and approached it with a “Well, we need to change that.” Lazarus’ film cannot do justice for the vast advancements Kamen and his team have made over the last 30 years, but he does shed light on an incredible and generous man that thankfully is still alive and well.

Slingshot plays at the Kansas City FilmFest on April 10 at 6:15 PM and April 12 at 5:00 PM. Click here for tickets and information.

In addition to contributing to Scene-Stealers, Trey makes short films and teaches at the Kansas City Art Institute. Follow him here:

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