Tallgrass Film Festival Announces Official Selections For The 2017 Stubbornly Independent Competition


The 15th Annual Tallgrass International Film Festival presented by Consolidated Equities Trust (October 18-22) today announced the four films that will compete this year in Tallgrass’s flagship Stubbornly Independent competition.

The four finalists include; Leena Pendharkar’s 20 WEEKS, Chris Hansen’s BLUR CIRCLE, Jameson Brooks’s BOMB CITY, and Dustin Cook’s I HATE THE MAN IN MY BASEMENT. Chosen from 98 eligible films, Tallgrass programmers spent more than 500 hours viewing and curating this year’s highly selective Stubbornly Independent program.

“This year’s selections feature stories and characters that are both timely and easily relatable, while delivering a unique and bold take, leading to films that feel anything but familiar,” said Tallgrass Film Festival’s Programing Director Nick Pope. “Ultimately these are films about redemption and self-discovery in a world that can be messy and unpredictable, but also rewarding and surprising. We’re honored to be showcasing these stories to Wichita audiences.”

This year marks the 6th year of the SI competition, where eligible films must be domestic narrative feature films made for $500,000 or less without traditional, theatrical, domestic distribution at the time of the festival screening. Finalists will be juried by a panel of industry professionals including Rebecca Celli (Cargo Films), Nancy Gerstman (Zeitgeist Films) and Jeffrey Winter (Film Collaborative.)

The Stubbornly Independent competition winner will be announced with the Tallgrass Film Festival’s lineup next month and will be featured as the Stubbornly Independent Gala Spotlight selection sponsored by Rick & Monica Nutt on Saturday, October 21. The winner will also receive the Jake Euker Stubbornly Independent Award and a $5,000 cash prize. The three runners up will be included as official selections in the festival and will be eligible for the Audience Award for Narrative Feature and $2,500 cash prize.

The Jake Euker Stubbornly Independent Award is named for a man who was just that. While a true film aficionado, beyond that, Jake was most likely Wichita's most knowledgeable film buff. He was also a friend and longtime supporter of the Festival, serving as everything from Programmer to Host to Trivia Master to the creator of Tallgrass' motto. The Stubbornly Independent award is given in his honor to an independent film or filmmaker who takes risks and isn't afraid to tell important stories, and does all of this within the ultra-low budget of $500,000 or less. Stubbornly Independent since 2003, the 15th annual Tallgrass Film Festival takes place October 18-22, 2017 in Wichita, Kansas.


About the Films


Director: Leena Pendharkar Country: USA, Running Time: 89min

20 WEEKS is a romantic drama about love, science and how prenatal and genetic testing impacts everyday people. Against the backdrop of modern-day Los Angeles, the story follows Maya and Ronan’s journey – interweaving their past and present – after learning that their baby has a serious health issue at their 20-week scan. Inspired, in part, by writer/director Leena’s Pendharkar’s real life experiences with her second daughter, the film seeks to explore an intimate issue that isn’t often talked about.



Director: Chris Hansen

Country: USA, Running Time: 92min

Jill Temple is a single mother still grieving the loss of her young son after he disappeared two years ago. Unable to face the possibility that she has lost him forever, she pursues every lead and meets Burton Rose, a man with a mysterious past. The details of that past – and how Burton has responded to it – force Jill to look at her life in a completely new way.



Director, Jameson Brooks

Country: USA, Running Time: 95min

Based on the true story of Brian Deneke. Bomb City is a crime-drama about the cultural aversion of teenage punks in a conservative Texas town. Their ongoing battle with a rival, more-affluent group of jocks, leads to a controversial hate crime that questions the morality of American justice.



Director, Dustin Cook

Country: USA, Running Time: 103min

Lonely and isolated, Claude is still grieving the murder of his wife. When he's reluctantly coerced by his obnoxious co-worker to join him for some salsa lessons, Claude develops an unexpected crush on his instructor Kyra. Unfortunately, he’s not sure how to move forward with this budding romance since he still has this… situation…in the basement to deal with.


About the Jurors

Nancy Gerstman, Zeitgeist Films

Gerstman is co-president and co-founder of Zeitgeist Films. She has worked in all aspects of film distribution and exhibition including a stint at Landmark Theatre Corp., the largest independent theatre chain in the US. She is in demand as a juror, panelist and commentator on issues related to independent and foreign language film and is Permanent Artist-in-Residence in the Master's Program in Media and Communication Arts at CCNY. She was born in Queens, New York.


Rebecca Celli, Cargo Releasing

Celli is the Director of Sales and Marketing at Cargo Film and Releasing, a cutting- edge, NY-based, documentary distribution and sales company. In the past year, she's represented docs that have premiered at major festivals like Sundance, SXSW, and the Berlinale and sold to HBO, Showtime, and National Geographic. On the side, Rebecca writes film and arts criticism — she's been a fellow at the Telluride Film Festival and written for arts journals like the Colorado Independent, Precog, and Duplex Magazine. She is also a ping pong enthusiast.


Jeffrey Fabian Winter, The Film Collaborative

Winter is drawn to championing independent film because of his love for the process by which good movies can effect positive change in our world today. His areas of specialty include niche distribution, niche marketing, and festival/non- theatrical/special events distribution. He spent several years handling grassroots marketing for L.A.’s two largest film festivals (the Los Angeles Film Festival and AFI FEST); a long tenure handling non-theatrical/festival/educational screenings for Wolfe Releasing (the world’s largest catalogue of LGBT films); and 11 years as a panel programmer/programming consultant for the Sundance Film Festival’s Digital Center (now called New Frontier). If “the medium is the message,” Jeffrey’s goal is to make sure the message gets heard.