Movie Maniac

Don’t miss these films and events at this weekend’s Tallgrass Film Festival

The 17th annual Tallgrass Film Festival is in full swing in downtown Wichita.

But there’s so much to see and do, the festival schedule can be daunting. Here then, are my picks for don’t-miss events and films through the weekend.

Films with guests in attendance will be followed by brief Q&A sessions. For a complete schedule and ticket information go to

Three don’t-miss events

Stubbornly Independent Gala — This year’s winner of the Jake Euker Stubbornly Independent Award is “Once Upon a River,” directed by Haroula Rose, about a 15-year-old part Native American girl who goes on an odyssey on the Stark River. 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 18, Scottish Rite, 332 E. 1st St. (Producer Grace Hahn and other guests scheduled to attend; an after-party follows at the former Greyhound Bus Station, 214 S. Topeka.)

Ad Astra Award ceremony with Bobcat Goldthwait — The Ad Astra award will be presented to Goldthwait followed by a discussion led by Tallgrass’ director of programming, Nick Pope, which will then be followed by a 10th anniversary screening of “World’s Greatest Dad,” starring Robin Williams. 7:45 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 19, Orpheum Theatre, 200 N. Broadway. (After-party follows at WAVE, 650 E. 2nd St N.)

Closing night gala and awards ceremony — “Give Me Liberty,” directed by Kirill Mikhanovsky, is a comedy about a medical transport driver who is torn between his promise to get his elderly Russian relatives to a funeral and his desire to help a headstrong young black woman in a wheelchair. 6:30 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 20, Orpheum Theatre. (Director/co-writer Kirill Mikhanovsky scheduled to attend; after-party follows at the Wichita Art Museum, 1400 Museum Blvd.)

5 don’t-miss narrative films

“Clementine,” director: Lara Jean Gallagher — This 2019 Stubbornly Independent award finalist follows a heartbroken woman who breaks into her ex’s lake house, where she strikes up a complicated relationship with a provocative younger woman. 4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 19, Scottish Rite. (Producer Aimee Lynn Barneburg scheduled to attend).

“First Love,” director: Takashi Miike — The trailer calls this film a “blood-soaked gonzo frenzy,” and it looks delightfully demented, about a self-confident young boxer and a prostitute in Tokyo who get caught up in a drug-smuggling plot. 10:15 p.m. Friday, Oct. 18, Orpheum Theatre. (In Japanese w/ English subtitles)

“Hudson,” director: Sean Cunningham — A man embarks on a trip with his estranged cousin to spread his late mother’s ashes. They meet an unusual woman along the way and their simple road trip turns into a dysfunctional adventure. 2:15 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 19, and 1 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 20, Orpheum Theatre. (Producer/actor Mary Catherine Greenawalt and director/co-writer Cunningham scheduled to attend)

“Parasite,” director: Bong Joon-Ho — The latest from Joon-Ho (“Okja,” “Snowpierecer”) won big at the Cannes Film Festival and explores greed and class discrimination that threatens the newly formed symbiotic relationship between a wealthy family and a destitute one. 1 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 19, Wichita Art Museum, and 11 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 20, Scottish Rite. (In Korean with English subtitles.)

“Saint Frances,” director: Alex Thompson — A woman who has just had an abortion lands a much-needed job in an affluent Chicago suburb as a nanny for a six-year old girl. 3:15 p.m. Friday, Oct. 18, Orpheum Theatre. (Writer/actor Kelly O’Sullivan scheduled to attend.)

5 don’t-miss documentaries

“Catnip Nation,” director: Tina Traster — This explores the dichotomy between cherished pet cats and those that live on the streets. 3:45 p.m. Friday, Oct. 18, and 1 p.m. Sat., Oct. 19, at the Wilke Family Life Center at First United Methodist Church, 330 N. Broadway. (Director/producer Tina Traster and editor/producer Lennon Neresian scheduled to attend.)

“Fly Like A Girl,” director: Katie McEntire Wiatt — The winner of the festival’s DOXX Award explores a movement of young girls and women pursuing their passion for aviation. Film preceded by award presentation. 4:15 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 20, Scottish Rite. (Director/producer Wiatt and executive producer/co-editor Matt Wiatt scheduled to attend.)

“I Am Human,” directors: Taryn Southern and Elena Gaby — Actress/filmmaker/musician Southern is a Wichita native, and her film, which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival, explores the co-evolution of humans and technology. 5:15 p.m. Friday, Oct. 18, Scottish Rite, and 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 19, at the Wilke Center. (Southern scheduled to attend.)

“Inmate #1 : The Rise Of Danny Trejo,” director: Brett Harvey — Explores the extraordinary life journey of Hollywood’s most unlikely hero, former convict-turned-actor Danny Trejo. 11 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 19, Scottish Rite. (Writer Scott Dodds scheduled to attend.)

“What She Said: The Art of Pauline Kael,” director: Rob Garver — A portrait of the work of controversial film critic Pauline Kael and her influence on the male-dominated worlds of cinema and film criticism. 11:45 a.m. Sat., Oct. 19, Orpheum Theatre and noon Sunday, Oct. 20, Wichita Art Museum. (Writer/Director Rob Garver scheduled to attend.)

Rod Pocowatchit is an award-winning independent filmmaker and SAG/AFTRA-eligible actor who has written and directed four feature-length films, all made in Kansas. He has been a journalist for 29 years and is also an internationally award-winning page designer.