Tallgrass Film Festival has grown into a world-class event

10/20/2013 9:01 AM

08/08/2014 10:19 AM

Why should you go to the Tallgrass Film Festival if you’re never heard of any of the films being shown?

Because they are films that deserve to be seen. Passionate projects that were fought to get made by any means possible. They are films you wouldn’t ordinarily get to see. But because the festival strives to bring Wichita the best independent films traveling the festival circuit, we do.

Starting Wednesday and continuing until Oct. 20, Tallgrass – now in its 11th year – has grown to be a world-class event. And the films are just the beginning. There will be gala parties, filmmaker roundtables, filmmaking workshops and more. It’s dizzying just to look at the schedule. There’s so much going on you couldn’t possibly do everything. But it’s fun to try.

About 30 filmmakers (consisting of directors, writers, producers and actors) will be at the festival supporting and promoting their films, participating in Q&A sessions after their screenings. It’s a unique opportunity to experience.

Because there’s no better way to see a film than at a festival. The vibe in the air will be contagious. Just go with the flow.

A special section guide to the festival ran in Friday’s Eagle. Here are some highlights of this year’s offerings:

•  Films in competition – You get your say! Audiences can vote for best narrative feature, best documentary feature and best short film. Vimeo is sponsoring the prizes. The winners will be announced at the closing night gala on Oct. 20.

Some of the films I’m most looking forward to are “Blue Caprice,” which is inspired by the real-life events that led to the 2002 Beltway sniper attacks; “Una Noche,” about two young men in Havana who try to escape their dismal existence; “I am Divine,” a documentary about drag queen Divine; “Forev,” a romantic comedy about impulsive marriages; “I Declare War,” about a group of 12-year-olds who take playtime too seriously; and “Worm,” a thriller shot with a GoPro Hero2 camera in one 90-minute take.

•  Gala screenings and parties – There will be gala screenings followed by after-parties on Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Oct. 20. A $25 ticket gets you into both. I’m most looking forward to the Stubbornly Independent Gala on Saturday, which will include a screening of “Favor,” a dark thriller about a man who enlists his best friend to help him get rid of a dead body. Producers Blayne Weaver and Tiffany Shuttleworth are scheduled to attend.
•  VIP events – TallPass holders get all-access to many VIP luxuries, such as a VIP lounge, which will be equipped with food, drink, massage stations and other amenities. The passes also get you into every screening, party and workshop and are $195 ($165 for Tallgrass members). They can be purchased at the festival’s Butler Community College Box Office Tent on First Street between Broadway and Topeka during the festival or online at www.tallgrassfilmfest.com.
•  Filmmaker labs – Want to learn more about filmmaking? The festival will present these workshops at Candela at the Lux: “Branding For Independent Films” (9 a.m. Saturday), “It’s The Sound, Stupid! Sound Design for Indie Film” (3 p.m. Saturday) and “From Story to Storyverse: A Crash Course in Transmedia Storytelling” (3:30 p.m. Oct. 20). There also will be filmmaker roundtables where filmmakers discuss their creative process and inspirations at 1 p.m. Friday ( “Lighting the Fire”), 1 p.m. Saturday ( “The Present & Future: Online and Non-Traditional Distribution Platforms”) and 2:30 p.m. Oct. 20 ( “The Next Step: From Shorts to Features”). The roundtable discussions are free. The labs cost $10/$8 for student/teacher/military/Tallgrass member.

About Movie Maniac

The Eagle's Rod Pocowatchit offers his musings on the screen scene.

Reach Rod at rpocowatchit@wichitaeagle.com.

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