The 16th annual Tallgrass Film Festival takes place Oct. 17-21, 2018, in and around downtown Wichita, Kansas. Not familiar with Wichita’s film festival? Here’s a quick primer on what to expect at one of the country’s top film fests.
What is Tallgrass Film Festival?
Tallgrass Film Festival is devoted to independent film – those made with smaller budgets and outside the Hollywood system. There will be roughly 200 selections including narratives, documentaries, animated, shorts and foreign films.
“Tallgrass is unique for several reasons. We have an internationally-known reputation for really taking good care of our filmmakers. We have an array of truly incredible buildings in downtown Wichita and use them as our venues. Most importantly, we offer an exceptional array of films each year,” said Paul Melroy, executive director of the Tallgrass Film Festival. “I’d be remiss if I didn’t also mention that a large part of the city supports us in some way and the people who come to the Festival can really feel that. It’s not some anonymous corporate event. It has a grass roots feel that is special and noticeable.”
Beyond films, expect parties, panel discussions on a range of industry topics and Q&A sessions with visiting filmmakers.
“Wichitans are great hosts, and hospitality is something that Wichita does really well,” said Melroy. “We’ve been able to build the festival on that foundation and it’s one of the reasons that so many people come back year after year. Our patrons have a great experience.”
Another aspect that differentiates the Tallgrass Film Festival is its proximity of the venues and social events to each other. “Most things at the Festival are within a couple blocks of each other. It’s not uncommon for things to be really spread out in other cities,” Melroy said. “Plus, we throw some creative, unbelievable parties. People talk about them for years afterward. We know how to show people a good time in Wichita.”
Who attends Tallgrass Film Festival?
Through its first 15 years, Tallgrass Film Festival has become a favorite of both filmmakers and movie-lovers. More than 16,000 patrons will attend the five-day movie festival, including more than 100 visiting filmmakers.
“I can’t wait to meet all the filmmakers who are coming. We’re so proud of the work that they do and we’re honored to get to show their films at our Festival. And the filmmakers make a lot of connections with each other at Tallgrass,” said Melroy. “We’ve had numerous filmmakers connect here who have gone on to work together on projects and form lasting relationships. Our festival really acts as creative hub to connect industry professionals in a way they might not be able to at other festivals. It’s a wonderful thing to watch unfold.”
Film legend Pam Grier is expected to attend this year’s event as a special guest. Tallgrass Film Association will present Grier with the Ad Astra Award, given to those who make significant contributions to the art and process of moviemaking, on Thursday, Oct. 18 at the Orpheum Theater followed by a “Conversation on Film” prior to a screening of her classic film “Jackie Brown” directed by Quentin Tarantino. The special evening will conclude with a late-night screening of one of Grier’s ’70s staples, “Coffy,” at Roxy’s Downtown.
“We also have a unique opportunity this year to present a new documentary about a really special, well-known musician from Wichita, and immediately following the screening we will have a performance from his band at one of our Gala parties,” said Melroy.
What films will be shown?
Tallgrass Film Festival is highly selective; roughly 8 percent of films submitted last year were accepted. Many of the films shown at Tallgrass have been nominated for or received Sundance or Independent Spirit Awards, and at least two films featured in Tallgrass have been nominated for Oscars.
Toward the end of September check tallgrassfilm.org for a list of the films that have been selected along with trailers. About two weeks before the festival, the full schedule will be available in print and online. New this year: an app will be available on iTunes and Google Play to help navigate the film line up, create your schedule, offer festival tips and exclusive discounts for local shops and eateries.
“There are films for everybody. With more than 150 films being shown our patrons will be able to find films that will resonate for them,” said Melroy.
How do you attend Tallgrass Film Festival?
To attend Tallgrass Film Festival, purchase individual tickets for any film you want to see or purchase a package or pass. These range from a one-day binge passes to the VIP TALLPass that includes access to everything the film fest offers: five days of film, parties, panels and VIP lounge access. The TALLPass is already on sale and a select number are available at the discounted price of $210. Once that supply runs out, they’ll increase to the regular price of $250 per pass.
For more information, go to www.visitwichita.com/events/annual-events/tallgrass.
About Visit Wichita
Visit Wichita markets the Greater Wichita area and advocates for the city as a destination, increasing travel and tourism as a key economic driver for the city, county, region and state. Visit Wichita is led by president and CEO Susie Santo, and in 2017 travel and tourism contributed more than $1.1 billion in economic impact to the greater Wichita area.