The Tallgrass Film Association is best known for its annual, multi-day festival that takes place in October, but now the group is expanding its offering of independent films to include more regular screenings. Their new “Indie at the Orpheum” series kicks off Sunday with a showing of “Citizenfour,” a documentary that chronicles the Edward Snowden saga and his leaking of classified documents that detailed the extent of the National Security Agency’s surveillance program.
Nick Pope, the association’s director of programming and operations, said the film series builds on the festival’s success to give audiences a more year-round experience with independent movies. There will be a one-time matinee screening of a different film on the second Sunday of every other month.
“We’re trying to keep the presence alive throughout the year. When we can set a precedent of the types of films that the film association plays, it gives people an idea of what to expect when the festival rolls around in October.”
Pope sees “Citizenfour” as an appropriate movie to kick off the series because it sparks conversations about timely issues like privacy and security. It’s also a film that has generated a lot of buzz, winning multiple awards on the festival circuit and being short-listed by the Academy Awards for best documentary. It’s courted controversy, too, including a lawsuit from a Kansan who alleges that Snowden and the film’s director, Laura Poitras, intentionally violated federal law by profiting off the disclosure of state secrets.
“What makes it the most interesting is the access that the director and the reporter she works with have to Snowden,” Pope said. “Despite the political implications of this, regardless of your feelings on the political side of these issues, it really is a historical document about how these things went down and what the NSA was doing.”
“Citizenfour” takes a thriller-style approach to detailing how the Snowden controversy unfolded. Viewers are given a direct look at how the unknown code-breaker rose to immediate international notoriety, lionized as a champion of liberty by some, while regarded as a traitor and a threat to national security by others.
Pope said the film screening will be followed by a salon-style discussion, though no one associated with the film will be able to attend. He sees the series as offering something unique to Wichita audiences.
“We want to keep this series as first-run as possible … this series fills a void,” he said. “While the focus of the film association is the festival, it’s important that these films that won’t screen here otherwise get seen.”
If you go
Tallgrass Film Association presents ‘Citizenfour’
What: A thriller-style documentary by Laura Poitras that chronicles the handing over of classified documents by Edward Snowden that detail the NSA’s mass surveillance program.
Where: The Orpheum, 200 N. Broadway
When: 3 p.m. Sunday
Tickets: $10 at the door.