Movie Maniac

Wichita film festivals tease upcoming lineups

“City of Joy” will be shown in the Tallgrass Film Festival’s DOX Spotlight, which will feature women-directed documentaries.
“City of Joy” will be shown in the Tallgrass Film Festival’s DOX Spotlight, which will feature women-directed documentaries. Courtesy photo

It’s almost fall, and that means it’s film festival season in Wichita, as two fests are already announcing some of their lineups to pique interest.

First, the Tallgrass Film Festival has announced selections for its Jake Euker Stubbornly Independent Competition.

Four films were selected from 98 eligible films submitted this year. They are:

▪  “20 Weeks” (directed by Leena Pendharkar) – A romantic drama set in modern-day Los Angeles that follows the journey of a couple who learns that their baby has a serious health issue 20 weeks into the pregnancy.

▪  “Blur Circle” (directed by Chris Hansen) – A single mother still grieving the loss of her young son after his disappearance two years ago still continues her search, which leads her to a man with a mysterious past.

▪  “Bomb City” (directed by Jameson Brooks) – Based on a true story, this crime-drama is about the cultural aversion of teenage punks in a conservative Texas town and their ongoing battle with a rival, more-affluent group of jocks.

▪  “I Hate the Man in My Basement” (directed by Dustin Cook) – A lonely and isolated man still grieving after the murder of his wife is reluctantly coerced by an obnoxious co-worker to take salsa lessons, which leads to an unexpected crush on his dance instructor.

The Stubbornly Independent award is given to an independent film or filmmaker who “takes risks and isn't afraid to tell important stories” and does it with a budget of $500,000 or less. The winner will be featured at the Stubbornly Independent Gala Spotlight, sponsored by Rick and Monica Nutt, on Oct. 21.

This year marks the sixth year for the competition, which is named after the late Jake Euker, a longtime supporter of the festival and creator of the Tallgrass motto.

Tallgrass also previously announced selections for a new program, the DOX Spotlight competition, sponsored by the Greteman Group. The new competition is for women-directed feature-length documentaries.

The finalists are:

▪  “City of Joy” (directed by Madeleine Gavin) – This follows the first class of students at a leadership center in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, a region often referred to as “the worst place in the world to be a woman.”

▪  “Forever ‘B’ ” (directed by Skye Borgman) – A twisting, turning, stranger-than-fiction true story of a naive, church-going Idaho family that fell under the spell of a sociopathic neighbor who had designs on their 12-year-old daughter.

▪  “Stumped” (directed by Robin Berghaus) – When filmmaker Will Lautzenheiser’s limbs are amputated, his life is derailed and he turns to stand-up comedy as therapy. Despite grave risks, he agrees to undergo an experimental double-arm transplant in the hope of reclaiming his independence.

The DOX Spotlight winner will debut on Oct. 19. The 15th annual Tallgrass Film Festival will be held Oct. 18-22 in Wichita. For more information, go to

Meanwhile, Wichitan Leif Jonker, in charge of the October at the Oldtown Horror Festival, has announced two prime selections: 4K restorations of the horror classics “Suspiria” and George A Romero’s zombie epic “Night of the Living Dead,” which should look amazing on the big screen at Warren Old Town.

“Suspiria” (1977) is directed by Dario Argento and follows a newcomer to a fancy ballet academy who gradually comes to realize that the school is a front for something far more sinister after series of grisly murders. It will be the opening night feature for the seventh annual festival on Oct. 2.

“Night of the Living Dead” (1968) follows a group of people who barricade themselves in an old farmhouse to escape flesh-eating monsters. It will be the closing night feature for the festival on Halloween night, Oct. 31.

More information and festival updates can be found on the Wichita Big Screen Facebook page at

Rod Pocowatchit: 316-268-6638, @rawd