Movie News & Reviews

Festival program offers independent dramas, comedies and documentaries

The seventh annual Tallgrass Film Festival program features several Kansas-made projects as well as almost 30 other feature films, and several short film programs.

Note that most films are unrated and some may be suitable only for adult audiences. Screening times and locations are subject to change. Go to for updates.

Special events with screenings

Opening-night gala

(Presented by Naked City and Old Cowtown Museum)

"The Only Good Indian"

Director: Kevin Willmott

Writer: Thomas L. Carmody

Cast: Wes Studi, Winter Fox Frank, J. Kenneth Campbell

Filmed partly at Old Cowtown Museum, University of Kansas professor Willmott's revisionist Western documents the harrowing experience that Indian children had to endure in the early 1900s.

A Native American teen (Frank) is taken from his family and forced to attend a distant Kansas "training" school to assimilate into white society. When the boy escapes and flees back to his family, the school hires a Cherokee bounty hunter (Studi) to hunt him down and bring him back. But when the bounty hunter grapples with his conscience, he questions his own motives and identity, as they both begin being hunted by a famed "Indian killer." (114 min.)

A Q&A with director Willmott, actor Studi and producers Scott Richardson and Greg Hurd will follow the film.

7:30 p.m. today, Orpheum Theatre; tickets $25 (includes after-party with food, drink and entertainment)

Ad Astra Award presentation and special screening

(Presented by Stella Artois)

A tribute to veteran character actor Seymour Cassel, including a Q&A and screening of:

"Reach for Me"

Director: LeVar Burton

Writer: Michael Adams

Cast: Seymour Cassel, Alfre Woodard, Johnny Whitworth

A bitter elderly man (Cassel) simply wants to live his last days in peace at a hospice facility, but when he gets a young, robust roommate, it forces him to reflect on his life and failed marriage.

7:30 p.m. Sat., Scottish Rite Temple; tickets $15 (includes award presentation, screening and after-party with cash bar)

Saturday special screening

(Presented by Amira's Dance Productions)


Director: Steve Balderson

Featuring: Pleasant Gehman

This documentary chronicles a year in the life of Gehman, who after years of punk rock rebellion, debauched cross-country indie band tours, substance abuse and bulimia, reinvented herself as Princess Farhana and began a belly-dancing career that brought her international acclaim — and controversy.

A Q&A with Steve Balderson, producer Clark Balderson and Gehman (and dance performance) will follow the film.

7:30 p.m. Sat., Orpheum Theatre; tickets $15 (includes after-party with food, entertainment and cash bar)

Saturday night midnight movie

"The Rocky Horror Picture Show"

Midnight Sat., Orpheum Theatre

Closing night gala

(Presented by the Ulrich Museum of Art)

"Mommy Is at the Hairdresser's (Maman est chez le coiffeur")

Director: Lea Pool

Writer: Isabelle Hebert

Cast: Celine Bonnier, Laurent Lucas

Coming-of age drama/comedy set during summer 1966, as a teenager discovers that she must take over caring for her eccentric family when her mother suddenly leaves them. (In French with English subtitles; 90 min.)

A Q&A with Hebert will follow the film.

6:30 p.m. Sun., CAC Theater, WSU campus; tickets $20 (includes after-party at Ulrich Museum with food, drink and entertainment)

Narrative features in English

"The Baker"

Director/Writer: Gareth Lewis

Cast: Damian Lewis, Kath Ashfield

Comedy/thriller about a hit man who has second thoughts about his career and seeks refuge from his boss by finding work as a baker in a rural Welsh village. (86 min.)

5:30 p.m. today and 11:45 a.m. Sun., Garvey Center

"The Battle for Bunker Hill"

Director: Kevin Willmott

Writers: Greg Hurd, Kevin Willmott

Cast: James McDaniel, Saeed Jaffrey, Laura Kirk

Drama about a former Wall Street executive released from prison who journeys to his small-town home to find his wife and family, but discovers that the town — and possibly the country — is under terrorist attack. Filmed in the Lawrence area. (114 min.)

Q&A with Willmott, Hurd and producer Scott Richardson will follow the film.

1:45 p.m. Sat., Garvey Center

"Lovers in a Dangerous Time"

Directors/writers/cast: May Charters, Mark Hug

Romantic tale about two former childhood friends who reunite at their 10-year high school reunion and find they both are struggling with the harsh realities of adulthood. They vow to recapture their youth at any cost — including their dignity. (99 min.)

Q&A with Charters and Hug will follow the film.

11:35 a.m. today, Garvey Center

"The Missing Person"

Director/Writer: Noah Buschel

Cast: Michael Shannon, Frank Wood, Amy Ryan

Drama with noir overtones, about a private detective hired to tail a man on a train from Chicago to Los Angeles. He gradually uncovers the man's identity as a missing person — one of the thousands presumed dead after the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. Persuaded by a large reward, the detective is charged with bringing the missing person back to his wife in New York City. (95 min.)

2 p.m. today and 4:45 p.m. Sat., Orpheum Theatre

"Peter and Vandy"

Director/writer: Jay DiPietro

Cast: Jason Ritter, Jess Weixler

A love story told out of order and set in Manhattan, this drama studies how people go from strangers to lovers to twisted, manipulative couple. They leave us asking what most couples ask themselves, "How did we get this way?" (80 min.)

10 a.m. today, Orpheum Theatre, and 11:45 a.m. Sat., Garvey Center

"Serious Moonlight"

Director: Cheryl Hines

Writer: Adrienne Shelly

Cast: Meg Ryan, Timothy Hutton, Kristen Bell

Comedy about a woman who learns that her husband plans to leave her after 13 years of marriage to run off with his 20-something girlfriend. She ties him up in their country house and refuses to let him go until they talk things through. (84 min.)

1:30 p.m. today and 10 a.m. Sat., Garvey Center

"World's Greatest Dad"

Director/writer: Bobcat Goldthwait

Cast: Robin Williams, Alexie Gilmore, Daryl Sabara

A lonely man dreams of being a rich and famous writer, but has only managed to make it as a high school poetry teacher. His lover doesn't want to acknowledge publicly that they are dating, and his only son won't give him the time of day. But in the wake of a freak accident, he is suddenly faced with all the fame, fortune and popularity he ever dreamed of — if he can only live with the knowledge of how he got it. (99 min.)

Midnight today, Orpheum Theatre

narrative features with english subtitles

"Fear Me Not (Den du frygter)"

Director: Kristian Levring

Writers: Anders Thomas Jensen, Kristian Levring

Cast: Ulrich Thomsen, Paprika Steen

A man in a midlife crisis signs up to be a test subject of a new antidepressant drug. But when the trial is called off, he continues taking the medication — which unleashes violent, repressed instincts. (In Danish; 95 min.)

11:45 a.m. today, Orpheum Theatre, and 1:45 p.m. Sun., Garvey Center

"For My Father (Sof Shavua B'Tel Aviv)"

Director: Dror Zahavi

Writer: Ido Dror, Jonatan Dror

Cast: Shredi Jabarin, Hili Yalon

Multistoried drama set over one weekend in Tel Aviv that explores Israeli-Palestinian relations, following a young Palestinian former soccer player-turned suicide bomber, a beautiful young Jewish girl he befriends, and an elderly hardware store owner he encounters while purchasing a new switch for the bomb he is wearing. Will he go through with his assigned duty? (In Hebrew/Arabic; 100 min.)

4:45 p.m. Sat. and 9:15 a.m. Sun., Garvey Center

"Tony Manero"

Director: Pablo Larrain

Writer: Alfredo Castro, Mateo Iribarren

Cast: Alfredo Castro, Paola Lattus

A serial killer is obsessed with John Travolta's disco-dancing character from "Saturday Night Fever," and dreams of winning Tony Manero look-alike and dance-alike contests on TV. (In Spanish; 98 min.)

6 p.m. Sat., Bank of America Theater, and 11:30 a.m. Sun., Scottish Rite Temple


"Fish Out of Water"

Director: Ky Dickens

Explores religion and homosexuality by talking to ministers and hundreds of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people to impart their experiences with faith and sexuality. (60 min.)

Q&A with producer Kristen Kaza will follow the film.

1:30 p.m. today, Scottish Rite Temple, and 11:45 a.m. Sun., Orpheum Theatre

"Gogol Bordello Non-Stop"

Director: Margarita Jimeno

A behind-the-scenes look at the gypsy punk band Gogol Bordello and its charismatic front man, Eugene Hutz. (In English, Russian and Spanish with English subtitles; 87 min.)

9:30 p.m. today and 1:30 p.m. Sat., Scottish Rite Temple

"House of Numbers"

Director: Brent Leung

Participating Organization: Positive Directions

Filmmaker Leung observes that although AIDS has been front-page news for more than 28 years, it is barely understood. (88 min.)

Q&A with Leung will follow the film.

4:30 p.m. today and 2:15 p.m. Sat., Orpheum Theatre

"Kabul 24"

Directors: Ben Pearson, Henry Arnold

In the summer of 2001, the Taliban took 24 hostages, capturing the attention of the world for more than three months. As told by the captives, this film documents their 105 days in captivity and the cruel treatment of the Muslim co-workers at the hands of the Taliban who accused them of converting to Christianity. (89 min.)

Q&A with Pearson will follow the film.

2:15 p.m. Sat. and 1 p.m. Sun., Garvey Center


Director: Geralyn Pezanoski

Examines the bond between humans and animals, told against the backdrop of Hurricane Katrina. (80 min.)

9 a.m. today, Scottish Rite Temple, and 11 a.m. Sun., Garvey Center

"Prodigal Sons"

Director: Kimberly Reed

Follows the filmmaker as she returns home for her high school reunion, ready to reintroduce herself to the small town as a transgender woman and hoping for reconciliation with her long-estranged adopted brother. (86 min.)

4:30 p.m. Sat. and 9:15 a.m. Sun., Scottish Rite Temple

"Saving Luna"

Directors: Suzanne Chisholm, Michael Parfit

Tells the tale of Luna, a lone baby killer whale who gets separated from his family in a remote Vancouver Island fjord. (94 min.)

11:15 a.m today and 10:30 a.m. Sat., Garvey Center

"Sweet Crude"

Director: Sandy Cioffi

Despite the valuable crude oil that flows from the ground beneath their feet, the impoverished Nigerian villagers in the Niger Delta wage a daily struggle to survive. (94 min.)

Q&A with director to follow screening.

4:15 p.m. today and 11 a.m. Sat., Scottish Rite Temple

"The Brothers Warner"

Director: Cass Warner

An intimate portrait of the four pioneering brothers who rose from immigrant poverty into adulthood to create Warner Bros., a movie studio with a social conscience. (90 min.)

9:15 a.m. today, Garvey Center, and 9:30 a.m. Sat., Orpheum Theatre

"The Way We Get By"

Director: Aron Gaudet

On call 24 hours a day for the past six years, three senior citizens have made history by greeting nearly 1 million U.S. troops at a tiny airport in Maine. (84 min.)

3:30 p.m. today and 12:30 p.m. Sat., Garvey Center

"Theater of War"

Director: John Walter

Featuring: Meryl Streep, Kevin Kline, Tony Kushner

A behind-the-scenes look at a production of Bertolt Brecht's "Mother Courage" that examines the playwright's life and ideas, as staged by Tony Kushner and the Public Theater/NY Shakespeare Festival in Central Park during summer 2006. (95 min.)

11 a.m. today and 9 a.m. Sat., Scottish Rite Temple

"William Kunstler: Disturbing the Universe"

Directors: Emily Kunstler and Sarah Kunstler

The filmmakers explore their father's life, from middle-class family man, to civil rights lawyer, to "the most hated lawyer in America." (86 min.)

5:15 p.m. today, Garvey Center

Greengrass program

"Solar Town U.S.A."

Director: Brian Kosisky

The story of America's first solar town, how it has shaped the alternative energy ideas and policies of today, and how it can lead us to a more sustainable future. (49 min.) Followed by:


Directors: Maxwell Cain, Nicholas Cain

Two brothers, one a filmmaker and the other an environmentalist, take a journey across the American heartland to celebrate and publicize innovative environmental projects. (60 min.)

Q&A with Maxwell Cain to follow screening.

9 a.m. today and 4:15 p.m. Sat., Garvey Center

Short film programs

Kansas Film Commission Presents the Timothy Gruver Spotlight on Kansas Filmmakers

A collection of the finest short film submissions from Kansans. (91 min. total)

"Misfortune Smiles"

Director: Jon Niccum (Lawrence)


Director: John Birmingham (Wichita, Lawrence)

"The Little Ones: A Dogumentary"

Directors: Grant and Kasey Babbitt (Lawrence)


Director: Sandra Powers


Director: Shih-Shan Chen (Lawrence)

"Rhubarb Pie"

Director: Mitch Brian (Hutchinson)

"Official Selection"

Director: Vince Masciale

Producer: Krysta Rinke (Wichita/Los Angeles)

A Q&A with several visiting filmmakers will follow the program.

3:30 p.m. Sun., Orpheum Theatre

Joel Fein High School Filmmaker shorts program

Showcasing high school filmmakers from around the country.

1 p.m. Sun., Orpheum Theatre

Themed short film programs

Bumpy Road

Live-action shorts about navigating life's journey. (89 min. total)

9:30 a.m. Sat., Bank of America Theater, and 10:30 a.m. Sun., Orpheum Theatre

Animated tour

Animated shorts from the serious to the fun. (91 min. total)

1:45 p.m. today, Garvey Center, 11:30 a.m. Sat., Bank of America Theater

Traveling Light

A collection of humorous and surprising short films. (94 min. total)

4 p.m. Sat., Bank of America Theater, and 9 a.m. Sun., Garvey Center

Final Destination

Films that look situations involving death. (89 min. total)

4 p.m. today, Garvey Center, 9 p.m. Sat., Bank of America Theater


Orpheum Theatre, 200 N. Broadway

Scottish Rite Temple, 332 E. First St.

Bank of America, 100 N. Broadway

Garvey Center, 250 W. Douglas.


Available online at, by phone at 316-755-7328 or in person at the Orpheum box office during the festival.

VIP All-Access Pass — $150 ($120 students, WAMPA members): admission to all screenings, VIP events and parties

Daytripper Saturday pass — $55: admission to all Saturday screenings, VIP events and parties.

Best of the Fest Sunday Pass — $45: admission to all Sunday screenings, filmmakers' brunch and closing night gala.

Individual films — $9 general; $7 student, senior and military, available at Orpheum and Garvey Center box offices. Ticket vouchers may be exchanged for tickets only at box office locations.

Other events

Filmmakers panel — Visiting filmmakers Kevin Willmott and Steve Balderson will discuss their work with festivalgoers beginning at 11:30 a.m. today in the restaurant area at the Broadview Hotel, Douglas and Waco. Discussion free to public; luncheon available afterward for $12.

Tanya's Soup Kitchen Caravan — Wichita chef Tanya Tandoc will set up a mini-restaurant under a tent in the Orpheum parking lot to serve two of her famous soups for $5 a bowl. Hours: 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Friday and 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday. Variety of food vendors all day Saturday in the Orpheum parking lot.

Quirky Attractions of Kansas Mini Golf Course — Special nine-hole miniature golf course highlighting festival theme, Kansas Roadside Attractions. Set up in Orpheum parking lot and staffed by Big Brothers Big Sisters as a fundraiser for Tallgrass. Tickets $5 adults, $3 children under 12. Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday-Sunday.