Tallgrass: Love the film, ask the questions

10/17/2013 11:22 AM

08/06/2014 8:47 AM

Seeing a film you love is fun.

But seeing a film you love and then immediately being able to ask the filmmaker how he did it is Film Festival Fun.

This weekend’s 11th annual Tallgrass Film Festival will feature 52 films, and at more than half of them, the makers of the films will be present to take questions after the screenings.

It’s the sort of treat film festivals are known for, said Lela Meadow-Conner, the festival’s executive director.

“You can go to the movies any time at the Warren, but you don’t get to ask the filmmakers question afterward,” she said. “It totally takes the movie-watching experience to a new level.”

Tallgrass will continue through Sunday with film screenings, parties and filmmaker workshops. It’s being staged at venues across town, including The Orpheum, the Wichita Scottish Rite Center, the Hotel at Old Town and Exploration Place.

The festival brings a long list of highly regarded films to Wichita – and it brings their makers right along with them. Meadow-Conner said organizers try to get as many filmmakers to the festival as they can, and as their reputation grows, the task becomes easier.

Among the visiting filmmakers Meadow-Conner said she is most excited to hear talk are two women who helped make Quentin Tarantino’s 1994 hit film “Pulp Fiction.” Music supervisor Karyn Rachtman and casting director Ronnie Yeskel both will speak following a special 7:30 p.m. screening of the film on Friday at the Orpheum.

She’s also looking forward to hearing from Brad Bernstein, who directed the documentary “Far Out Isn’t Far Enough: The Tomi Ungerer Story.” Bernstein will be at the screening of his film, scheduled for 7 p.m. Sunday at the Orpheum, and will take audience questions afterward.

The film is about Ungerer, a French illustrator who is known for his children’s book as well as for his controversial erotic illustrations. Bernstein’s film combines a traditional documentary style with selections of Ungerer’s work brought to life by animation.

The question and answer sessions at film festivals are as rewarding for the filmmakers as they are for the audience members, said Bernstein, who also is a regular producer of VH1 “Behind the Music” documentaries.

So far, Bernstein’s film has shown in about 30 film festivals, and he’s traveled to half of them.

He loves to watch audiences watch the film and to observe their reactions to different segments, he said. He also loves that his film inspires curiosity about Ungerer, and nearly every audience asks him how he got the idea and how he got such unrestricted access to his subject. They also want to know more about Ungerer’s family.

“You never know how the film will resound with people,” Bernstein said. “It’s left such a mark on so many people. It’s been really interesting the effect it’s had.”

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