Tallgrass Film Festival Announces First Wave of Films For 2023 Festival

 

Upon being named a “Top 25 Coolest Film Festival in the World” last month by MovieMaker Magazine, Tallgrass Film Festival presented by Archer Hotels announces the initial offerings of its 21st annual Film Festival to be held October 5-8, in downtown Wichita. With a mix of free and paid events and extensive educational programming, the Festival brings thousands of visitors to the city annually. Tickets and Tallpasses are on sale now at https://TallgrassFilm.org/ for these events with more announcements coming later this month.

The Festival hosts more than 184 films for this 21st edition. Continued partnerships with the Orpheum Theatre, Temple Live (Scottish Rite), Exploration Place, the Advanced Learning Library (all downtown on 1st Street), and Ulrich Museum (on WSU campus) as host venues will be joined by WSU TECH: Niche (124 S. Broadway) as a new venue with a welcome return to the Wichita Art Museum (1400 Museum Blvd.) this year. The Festival is also partnering with the Prairie Fire Race Marathon on Sunday to support runners and to make for a lively downtown weekend.

STANDING IN SOLIDARITY WITH STRIKING GUILDS

Nationally, the Festival has focused on the important issues that the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes are raising and supporting the filmmakers during this time.

“We’ve carefully worked with SAG-AFTRA to ensure that we are supporting our artists during this time and have worked with films to get clearances needed to be still showcased during the strikes. We stand in solidarity and look forward to celebrating stubborn independence this October,” Executive Director Melanie Addington said. “Any SAG-AFTRA card members in Kansas can also receive complimentary passes or tickets if they reach out to us this year.”

Additional panels on the issues will be announced at a later date.

VAST, VARIED PROGRAMMING FROM AROUND THE WORLD

The head programmers and screeners combed over submissions from across the world for the past seven months with a record number of films from 70 countries.

“I’m very proud of this year’s program. We have a near-record number of world-premiere feature films which is always a nice addition to what the Festival offers,” Program Director Andre Seward said. “Another positive aspect is the number of films we have from new directors and artists from underrepresented communities. The selection this year perfectly reflects the quality and reputation of the Festival.”

Among this announcement’s highlights are the World Premiere of the feature film STAY AT CONDER BEACH set in Louisiana and directed by Aaron Khandros as well as regional premieres of several Tribeca Film Festival favorites including PLAYLAND, LOST SOULZ and YOUR FAT FRIEND. The closing night film THREE BIRTHDAYS also serves as a regional premiere, directed by Jane Weinstock and stars Josh Radnor (“How I Met Your Mother”) and Annie Parisse (“National Treasure”).

The USA premiere of LIBERTY, a short made in Kansas, will also include visiting Tallgrass with star Jim Beaver (“Supernatural”). Another Kansas feature will have its USA Premiere at the Festival with JUST LIKE YOU – ANXIETY + DEPRESSION focused on mental health in these troubling times. Kansas native Jennifer Greenstreet directs the film. A panel discussion on mental health will also be highlighted at the Festival.

“It was another year of incredible submissions and tough decisions,” Short Film Programmer and Operations Manager Hannah Bothner said. “It’s an exciting time for short films and somehow the short films get better and better each year. We’ve created a unique and entertaining program that I cannot wait to show the world.”

 

CATEGORIES ANNOUNCED TODAY

In the Jake Euker Stubbornly Independent presented by The Cotillion category, films are expected to be under a $750,000 production budget and must be a domestic narrative feature. The winner will receive $5,000 and a Stubbornly Independent Tap Handle. 

 

FREE TIME

Director: Ryan Martin Brown

Producers: Mackenzie Jamieson, Justin Zuckerman, Paula Andrea González-Nasser, Nolan Kelly

Kansas Premiere. RT: 78m/USA

Drew quits his job and then quickly decides he wants it back.

 

Ray (short) plays with FREE TIME

Director: Joe Lycett

RT: 6m/USA

A daft short film.

 

I Care About Your Mailbox (short) plays with FREE TIME

Director: Andres Gimenez

RT: 12m/USA

Everybody cares about something, I care about your mailbox.

 

These films play at WSU TECH: Niche on Sunday, October 8 at 2 pm.

 

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LOST SOULZ

Director: Katherine Propper

Producers: Andres Figueredo Thomson, Juan Carlos Figueredo Thomson

Regional Premiere. RT: 96m/USA

A young rapper leaves everything behind and embarks on an odyssey of self-discovery, music and friendship in the heart of Texas.

 

Stuck (short) plays with LOST SOULZ

Director: Brittany Reeber

Kansas Premiere. RT: 10m/USA

Wanda, an introverted stoner, is roped into her roommates’ music video shoot when she finds a kindred spirit in a mouse stuck to a sticky pad.

 

These films play at Kemper (Exploration Place) on Saturday, October 7 at 3 pm.

 

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PLAYLAND

Director: Georden West

Producers: Russell Sheaffer, Hannah McSwiggen, Danielle Cooper

Regional Premiere. RT: 72m/USA

Artist-filmmaker Georden West’s debut feature is an expressionist and very queer bricolage, focusing on an atemporal night in the renowned Playland Café.

 

Dogfriend (short) plays with PLAYLAND

Director: Maissa Lihedheb

Kansas Premiere. RT: 19m/Germany

A date takes an unexpected turn in this meditation on race, politics, and history in Germany.

 

This Is Concrete (short) plays with PLAYLAND

Director: Alice Gosti and June Zandona   

Regional Premiere. RT: 3m/USA

The body becomes architecture in the iconic abandoned military bunkers of Fort Worden National Park (WA, USA) as personal and geographical histories are interwoven in this genre-bending dance.

 

These films play at the Kemper (Exploration Place) on Friday, October 6 at noon.

 

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STAY AT CONDER BEACH

Director: Aaron Khandros

Producers: Mike S. Ryan, Mike Bowes

World Premiere. RT: 87m/USA

Conder Beach is a crumbling tourist town on the Gulf Coast, reliant on seasonal commerce and oil rigging. The film draws you into a world that vacillates between reality and metaphor, examining the intangible evils that threaten our society and have crystallized so many into a pattern of self-destruction.

 

Followers (short) plays with STAY AT CONDER BEACH

Director: Julia Bales

Regional Premiere. RT: 15m/USA

Wendy invites her new neighbors over for dinner, but it doesn’t go as planned.

 

These films play at the Kemper (Exploration Place) on Saturday, October 7 at noon.

 

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The third annual Gordon Parks Award for Black Excellence in Filmmaking presented by Cargill Competition which will provide a $5,000 cash prize and a $10,000 camera rental package from Panavision:

 

BLACK BARBIE: A DOCUMENTARY

Director Lagueria Davis

Producer: Aaliyah Williams, Lagueria Davis

Kansas Premiere. RT: 100m/USA

Through intimate access to a charismatic Mattel insider, Beulah Mae Mitchell, BLACK BARBIE delves into the cross-section of merchandise and representation as Black women strive to elevate their voices and stories, refusing to be invisible.

 

Jelly (short) plays with BLACK BARBIE: A DOCUMENTARY

Director: Anndi Jinelle Liggett

Regional Premiere. RT: 10m/USA

A young, Black girl with a peculiar fascination with death tries to solve the mysterious case of a missing neighbor while coming to terms with a more personal disappearance.

The films play Friday, October 6 at 1 pm at Scottish Rite/Temple Live.

 

CHOCOLATE MILK

Director/Producer: Elizabeth Gray Bayne

Kansas Premiere. RT: 92m/USA

Chocolate Milk explores racial inequities in birth and breastfeeding in the US by following the stories of three Black mothers in South Los Angeles over multiple years.

 

Choices (short) plays with CHOCOLATE MILK

Director: Kameishia Wooten

Regional Premiere. RT 13m/USA

Three very different friends find renewed connection as they await pregnancy results at their Los Angeles High School.

 

These films play at WSU TECH: Niche on Saturday, October 7 at 4 pm.

 

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NAME OF THE GAME

Directors: William Forbes & Douglas Skinner

Producers:  William Forbes & Douglas Skinner, Shondrella Avery, Lynette Baker, Mike Strong

Regional Premiere.  RT: 113m/USA

The untold story of black male exotic dancing in south Los Angeles and how it intersects with the origins of hip hop, gang culture, and kung fu assassins.

 

This film plays at the Tallgrass Film Center on Saturday, October 7 at 10 pm.

 

SUMMER OF VIOLENCE

Director: Nicki Micheaux

Producers: Efuru Flowers, Maureen P. Mottley, Sean Riggs, Nicki Micheaux

Regional Premiere RT: 110m/USA

Refusing law school to pursue poetry, a sheltered college grad, cut off from her father’s money, struggles to survive while living in Denver during the Summer of Violence in 1993.

 

This film plays at the Tallgrass Film Center on Friday, October 6 at 4:30 pm.

 

THE UNSEEN

Director: J.S. Hampton

Producers: J.S. Hampton, Dean Albright, Brianna Woods

RT: 89m/United States

A witch from the 1850s is transported into the head of her descendant in modern Kansas City, who is tasked with helping get her ancestor’s body back.

Split (short) plays with THE UNSEEN

Director: Vincent Essid

Regional Premiere. RT 15m/USA

When a hopeless romantic teenager discovers that the jukebox in his family’s bowling alley, sends him back to the glory days of it in the 1980s, he must choose between a shot at love in the past or healing the relationship with his father in the present.

 

These films play at the Orpheum Theatre on Saturday, October 6 at 10:30 am.

 

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With a slight name change to celebrate our woman-representing filmmakers this year the Woman Filmmaker Spotlight presented by Fidelity Bank competition will provide a $5,000 cash prize to the winner.

 

THE FACE OF THE JELLYFISH

Director: Melisa Liebenthal

Producers: Eugenia Campos Guevara, Vanesa Ragonne

Regional Premiere. RT: 75m/Argentina

Marina’s face suddenly changed. One day around her thirties her face ceased to be what it was. Who is she now? Can we be somebody beyond our face, beyond our image?

 

Alegrias Riojanas (short) plays with THE FACE OF THE JELLYFISH

Director: Velasco Broca

RT: 29m/Spain

An ophthalmologist’s confession gets interrupted when the priest who was attending him leaves in an emergency.

 

These films play at the Tallgrass Film Center on Saturday, October 7 at 6:30 pm.

 

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THREE BIRTHDAYS

Director: Jane Weinstock

Producers: Andrea Miller, Chris Collins, James Welling

Regional Premiere. RT: 90m/USA

In 1970, at the height of the sexual revolution, an idealistic academic couple and their 17-year-old daughter wrestle with revolutionary ideas around sex, race, and class.

 

Photo Of The Day (short) plays with THREE BIRTHDAYS

Directors: Mac Eldridge & Tom Dean

Kansas Premiere. RT: 12m/USA

A photo from their past ignites a conversation about the possibility of an open marriage between a husband and wife.

 

These films play at the Orpheum Theatre on Sunday, October 8 at 7 pm as the closing night gala.

 

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VALLEY OF EXILE

Director: Anna Fahr

Producers: Anna Fahr, Lara Abou Saifan

Regional Premiere.  RT: 107m/Lebanon

Two sisters arrive in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley at the onset of the Syrian war, embarking on a journey into exile that tests their loyalty to their country, their family, and each other.

 

This film plays at the Tallgrass Film Center on Thursday, October 5 at noon.

 

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WILDER THAN HER

Director: Jessica Kozak

Producers: Shannon Reilly, Kimberly Hwang, Chelsea Davenport

Kansas Premiere. RT: 88m/USA

After the death of their best friend Bea, tight-knit friends attempt to reconnect on an annual camping trip. Still, things grow increasingly strange and uncomfortable in the isolated forest as their friendship unravels.

 

This film plays at the Kemper (Exploration Place) on Saturday, October 6 at 3 pm.

 

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Super Deep Down (short) plays with WILDER THAN HER

Director: Lauren Sevigny and Lexi Pappas

Regional Premiere. RT: 16m/USA

Three friends take a weekend getaway to commemorate a divorce and “move on,” but accidentally awaken spirits who take their wish to heart.

 

This film plays at the Kemper (Exploration Place) on Saturday, October 6 at 3 pm.

 

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YOUR FAT FRIEND

Director: Jeanie Finlay

Producers: Jeanie Finlay, Suzanne Alizart, Charlotte Cook, Sandra Whipham, Shanida Scotland

Regional Premiere. RT: 96m/USA&UK

Made over 6 years, director Jeanie Finlay charts the rise of writer and activist Aubrey Gordon from anonymous blogger to NYTimes best-selling author and beloved podcaster. Her aim? – a paradigm shift in how we see fat people and the fat on our bodies.

 

How To Carry Water (short) plays with YOUR FAT FRIEND

Director: Sasha Wortzel

Regional Premiere. RT: 15m/USA

This punk rock fairytale doubles as a portrait of Shoog McDaniel — a fat, queer, and disabled photographer working in and around northern Florida’s vast network of freshwater springs, the state’s source of precious drinking water.

 

Forward Fast (short) plays with YOUR FAT FRIEND

Director:  Lorraine Sovern

Kansas Premiere. RT: 3m/USA

While embarking upon a process of archival and preservation, a filmmaker dives into a stark exploration of self as she discovers the seeds of patriarchy and misogyny already planted and steeping the imagery of her childhood films.

 

These films play at the Scottish Rite (Temple Live) on Friday, October 6 at 10 am.

 

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For our Murmurations category, we highlight Spanish cinema in honor of our local Miro mural at Ulrich Art Museum. 

 

THE VISIT AND A SECRET GARDEN

Director: Irene M. Borrego

Producers: Irene M. Borrego, Renata Sancho, Mariangela Mondolo-Burghard

USA Premiere. RT: 65m/Spain

A film that reflects on memory and oblivion, Art and the creative process; posing the question of what it means to be an artist and a woman.

 

Arnasa (short) plays with THE VISIT AND A SECRET GARDEN

Director: Raúl Barreras

Regional Premiere. RT: 15m/Spain

Sitting on a hill, Inaxio mourns the death of his wife. His grandson Ekaitz seems to have been invoked by his song and returns to the farmhouse to take care of his grandfather and the animals that provide them with food and company.

 

These films will play at Wichita Art Museum on Saturday, October 7 at 12:30 pm.

 

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THE VOLUNTEER

Director: Nely Reguera

Producer: Adrià Monés, Álex Lafuente, Maria Drandaki

Regional Premiere. RT: 99m/Spain & Greece

Marisa, a recently retired doctor, decides to leave everything and travel to a refugee camp in Greece, where they seem to need people exactly like her.

 

This film plays at WSU TECH: Niche on Friday, October 6 at 11 am.

 

TOBACCO BARNS

Director: Rocio Mesa

Producer: Olmo Figueredo González-Quevedo, Jana Díaz-Juhl, Pau Brunet, Belén Sánchez

Regional Premiere. RT: 98m/ Spain

Seven-year-old Vera and Nieves, teenage natives, driven by the sense of adventure and the need to find oneself respectively, will be connected to a magical creature that will change how they see their reality.

 

Cuando Crece La Hierba (short) plays with TOBACCO BARNS 

Director: María Monreal

RT: 3m/Spain

To question is to grow. Because not everything is easy to understand… even when you’ve grown up.

 

Cherubs (short) plays with TOBACCO BARNS

Director: Anne-Sophie Bine

Regional Premiere. RT: 18m/USA

At summer arts camp, a reserved 13-year-old girl feels seen for the first time when an older counselor takes her under his wing.

 

These films play at WSU TECH: Niche on Friday, October 6 at 2 pm. 

 

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Tim Gruver Spotlight on Kansas Filmmakers Category sponsored by Moeder and Associates showcases our state filmmakers with both features and short films.

 

HEAD COUNT

Directors: The Burghart Brothers (Jacob and Ben)

Producers: Austin Wagoner, Tristan Barr, David Gim

Kansas Premiere. RT: 80m/USA

After escaping prison, Kat finds his revolver pointed at his head by an unknown assailant. As the empty rounds click away, Kat tries to remember how he got here, one bullet at a time.

 

Kid Ugly (short) plays with HEAD COUNT

Director: Jazmin Aguilar

Regional Premiere. RT: 12m/USA

A notorious outlaw named Bottle Tooth Guapo, runs into their biggest fan Lazlo, who is determined to be their sidekick.

 

These films play at the Orpheum Theatre on Friday, October 6 at 4 pm.

 

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JUST LIKE YOU – ANXIETY + DEPRESSION

Director: Jennifer Greenstreet

Producers: Chad Swenson, Mauria Stonestreet, Karen Arkin, Jennifer Greenstreet

USA Premiere. RT: 78m/USA

10 brave kids, 2 Emmy award-winning journalists, 1 clinical psychologist at Columbia University, and 1 determined mother take on the fear and stigma plaguing the mental health community, leaving us enlightened, empowered, and equipped to either live life or lift up life with these challenging and even life-threatening conditions.

 

boy/beast (short) with JUST LIKE YOU – ANXIETY + DEPRESSION

Director: Andrew Shaw

North American Premiere. RT: 7m/Australia

The darkness at the edge of a boy’s play threatens to turn him into a beast. A meditation on violence and the grief that underpins it.

 

These films play at the Advanced Learning Library on Friday, October 6 at 2:30 pm.

 

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In This Neighborhood (short) with JUST LIKE YOU – ANXIETY + DEPRESSION

Director: Lilly Lion

Producer:  Ellena Rosenthal & Lilly Lion

Regional Premiere. RT: 10m/USA

Caught between a fragmented mind and a fuzzy grasp on reality, Kate seeks a fresh start to her life. After breaking into her estranged family home, she discovers a piece of mail which leads to a downward spiral of paranoia, alarm for family safety, and an unquestionable certainty she’s being targeted. Our film explores how Kate’s mental health combined with poverty, lack of safety nets, and systematic hurdles ultimately determines her fate.

 

This films play at the Advanced Learning Library on Friday, October 6 at 2:30 pm.

 

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PENITENTIA

Director/Producer: Chris Lawing

Kansas Premiere. RT: 90m/USA

Young attorney, Ale Villacaño, takes a pro bono prison rights base and gets quickly drawn into a criminal web and corporate negligence.

 

Liberty (short) plays with PENITENTIA

Director: Chris Lawing

USA Premiere. RT: 16m/USA

Liberty is the story of a disgraced journalist who flees to a small midwestern town to rebuild her life, only to find deadly corruption pursuing her at every turn.

 

These films play at the Orpheum Theatre on Friday, October 6 at 7 pm as the Friday night gala.

 

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STELLA

Director: Tyler Doehring

Producers: Tyler Doehring/Pablo Diego

Kansas Premiere. RT: 79m/USA, Italy, and France

A documentary about a humble pizzeria, and a beloved cuisine’s quest for its first Michelin Star.

 

Death & Ramen (short) plays with STELLA

Director: Tiger Ji

RT: 14m/USA

After botching his suicide, a ramen chef goes on an unintended late-night odyssey with the Grim Reaper. They share a bowl of noodles and discover what it means to be human.

 

These films play at WSU TECH: Niche on Saturday, October 7 at 1 pm.

 

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THE WOMAN OF STARS AND MOUNTAINS

Director: Santiago Esteinou

Producers: Santiago Esteinou, Javier Campos Lopez, Axel Pedraza, Jose Miguel Diaz Salinas

Regional Premiere. RT: 100m/Mexico & USA

Rita Patiño, an indigenous woman from Mexico, was found by a human rights organization inside a Kansas psychiatric hospital, where she had been involuntarily confined, for 12 years.

 

This film plays at Kemper (Exploration Place) on Sunday, October 8 at 4 pm.

 

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All the following films will be shown in the Tim Gruver Spotlight on Kansas Filmmakers shorts block, a local favorite. These films will be featured on Saturday, October 7 at 10 am at the Orpheum Theatre.  

 

Don Johnson Is Not Your Man

Directors: Kathryn Lunte, Felicia Ferrara

RT: 12m/USA

Set in the late 80s in Ohio, this coming-of-age story follows a young teenage girl who observes her older brother’s obsession with the TV show Miami Vice and his descent from selling cookies at the mall to dealing cocaine.

 

Emerging Artists 

Director: Lindsey Doolittle

RT: 7m/USA

Emerging Artists is an art program for adults with developmental delays, but this film is about people and their art, not their disabilities.

 

GOBABYGO

Director: Matt Crow

World Premiere. RT: 4m/USA

Engineering and Physical Therapy Students from Wichita State collaborate to modify a toy car for a child with spina bifida to drive.

 

Hole In The Ground

Director: Gina Bryant

Kansas Premiere. RT: 5m/USA

In the aftermath of a brutal attack on their homestead, a husband and wife discuss their futures.

 

Homecoming

Director: Adler Moss

RT: 7m/USA

When he is forced to come home after a tragedy occurs in his family, Freddy, a first-year music student, must reckon with his past to create a brighter future.

 

I Am…Brihanna Jayde

Director: Kris Bailey

RT: 13m/USA

The 2023 Kansas All-American Goddess gives viewers and listeners a glimpse of the Drag Queen life and what it means to live life authentically as a gay man.

 

Mal-Adjusted

Directors: Rylee Dulaney

Kansas Premiere. RT: 6m/USA

A young woman battles her fixation with her favorite role-playing game, Castles and Creatures.

Residency

Director: Drew Wagner

RT: 4m/USA

A new homeowner discovers a hidden tape recorder with a message from the former resident.

Slow Dance

Director: Micah Streeter

World Premiere. RT: 6m/USA

A break-up in reverse.

Step 9

Director: Tom Hipp

Kansas Premiere. RT: 11m/USA

A small-town interrogation goes awry.

 

The Ballad Of Rich And Champ

Director: Caleb Voyles

Regional Premiere. RT: 13m/USA

A suave, classy, pool hustler who embodies 70s American Spiritualism risks it all when a loaded stranger bets big on his table.

The Wheat Harvest

Director: Paul Dechant

RT: 10m/USA

The rhythms of a typical day during the summer wheat harvest in western Kansas.

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