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Tallgrass has stars for 1-day fest

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Friday, April 20, 2012, at 8:06 a.m.

If you go

“VI to X: Six Months to Tallgrass Ten”

What: One-day film festival to celebrate the upcoming 10th anniversary of the Tallgrass Film Festival

Where: Orpheum Theatre, 200 N. Broadway

How much: Some screenings are free but require a sticker for admittance, which can be found at various locations around Wichita; check www.tallgrassfilmfest.com for locations. The TALL Access VIX button ($25 and gets you into everything) and individual screening tickets may be purchased at the door or at www.tallgrassfilmfest.com.

When: Saturday

•  10 a.m.: “L.A. Comedy Shorts Best of the Fest World Tour” — A compilation of short films from the L.A. Comedy Shorts Festival (some may be for mature audiences; free with sticker).

•  Noon: “The Sandman” (directed by Peter Luisi) — The opening-night film from last year’s film festival follows a man who discovers sand in his bed when he wakes up one day. Soon, he learns that the sand is leaking from him (free with sticker).

•  2 p.m.: “Bomb the System” (directed by Adam Bhala Lough) — The opening-night film from the first Tallgrass Film Festival follows a group of New York City graffiti artists (free with sticker).

•  5 p.m.: “The Big Fix” (directed by Josh and Rebecca Tickell) — This documentary follows the filmmakers as they explore the cause and effect of the devastating oil spill that occurred in 2010 in the Gulf of Mexico. ($10 or included with TALL Access VIX button)

•  8 p.m.: “God Bless America” (written and directed by Bobcat Goldthwait) — A 45-year-old man and a teenage girl go on a killing spree. Actors Joel Murray and Tara Lynne Barr will participate in a Q&A after the film, which is rated R for mature audiences. ($10 or included with TALL Access VIX button)

•  10 p.m.: ’80s throwback after-party (Executive Centre, 125 N. Market) with music, open bar and food. (TALL Access VIX button holders only)

•  Midnight: “Troll 2” Red-eye Screening — Horror film presented by Hurts So Good Films. (free with sticker)

Bobcat Goldthwait likes to tread taboo ground. Actually, he stomps on it and smashes it to pieces.

The former comedian has evolved into a daring film writer/director with such offbeat movies as “Sleeping Dogs Lie,” which had its female protagonist admit to her husband that she experiments with bestiality, and “World’s Greatest Dad,” which stars Robin Williams as the father of a loathsome teenager who kills himself. Williams forges the son’s diary, which makes him look the model father, and he finally finds success as a writer. Both films were hits at the Sundance Film Festival.

Goldthwait’s characters do unthinkable things, but we can’t stop watching. There’s an uncomfortable air that permeates his work — he seems to revel in making audiences squirm in their seats.

His latest, “God Bless America,” is an angry, giddily violent — and very funny — commentary on the state of modern society and its infatuation with empty-headed stardom and repulsively mindless “entertainment.”

It follows Frank (Joel Murray of TV’s “Mad Men”), the divorced father of a bratty girl who is fed up with the rudeness of the world. And he reaches his wit’s end when he discovers he is terminally ill. So he decides to become a vigilante and rid the world of its ugliness.

He finds an unlikely accomplice in 16-year-old Roxy (Tara Lynne Barr), who joins Frank on his killing spree. They soon become a modern, ultra-violent Bonnie and Clyde, of sorts.

The film has overtones of Oliver Stone’s “Natural Born Killers,” but edges more into dark comedy while skewering popular culture. It’s a revenge fantasy, but rooted in the relationship between Frank and Roxy, which becomes almost paternal but never romantic.

“God Bless America” is certainly not a film you’ll normally find at the local multiplex. But that’s exactly the reason the Tallgrass Film Association has chosen to showcase it as a Wichita premiere at “VI to X: Six Months to Tallgrass Ten,” a one-day film festival on Saturday at the Orpheum Theatre, 200 N. Broadway.

The event, which celebrates the upcoming 10th anniversary of the Tallgrass Film Festival in October, is designed to introduce new audiences to the film festival experience, which often includes filmmakers in attendance. Actors Murray and Barr will attend the screening of “God Bless America” and participate in a Q&A session after the film (which starts at 8 p.m.).

Overall, six film programs will be presented throughout the day, starting at 10 a.m.

Outside the Orpheum, First Street will be closed to showcase vendors and attractions organized by Wichita State University’s Communication Campaigns class to add to the festival atmosphere. Arcade machines, a photo booth, casino parties, spray tattoos, a hookah lounge, and a graffiti artist will be featured, as well as food by popular roaming food vendor The Flying Stove.

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