20th Anniversary Tallgrass Film Festival – Pregame

Many people love Christmas more than any other time of the year. Some people go hard for Valentine’s Day, Halloween (a favorite of mine), or even Thanksgiving. Me? My engine gets revved during the film festival season. Wichita’s annual Tallgrass Film Festival is celebrating its 20th anniversary and I’m on pins and needles waiting for the opening day. There are a fair amount of exciting films on the schedule, from documentaries to narrative films and even a couple of wonderful retrospective screenings (lookin’ hard at that 35mm restoration of Donnie Darko), and I cannot wait to dive in headfirst.

This festival is important to me for a fair few reasons. At the base level, it’s because I have a local, film-centric event to attend and geek out at, but there are deeper reasons. It’s a chance to see things I wouldn’t ever have a chance to watch without this, a moment to celebrate other cultures and people and ideas through the existence of cinema that isn’t just a button click away from my fingertips. I learn things and grow more every year, and I hope that I’ve been able to share some of that experience with you.

The festival’s motto has been “stubbornly independent” for some time, and its appeal has been that it remains so. Beyond that, it remains stubborn in other areas as well; in its devotion to representation, to bringing filmmakers from Kansas to the forefront, spotlighting female filmmakers, and pushing themselves to stay aggressively involved in the local community. The festival is synonymous with the city of Wichita, and it remains the brightly shining event that might be just as memorable as the silhouette of the skyline in the waning light.

But perhaps the most important thing about this festival is that it’s meant to share with the people that you care about, bonding over the great American export and its artistic endeavors in a harshly capitalist landscape. This is a place I go to connect with people that love this medium as much as I do, to talk and laugh and cry and share with them together. This will be the first year my fiancee attends, a thing that thrills me to no end and that I’m grateful I have the opportunity to share with her.

The festival starts on the 28th, and I cannot WAIT to see many of you there! Below are links to all my previous festival reviews, with many more to come.

Ms. Purple – Currently streaming on Paramount+ and Showtime

Straight Up – Currently streaming on Netflix

In Fabric – Currently streaming on Paramount+ and Showtime (SXSW Audience, Special Jury Award Winner)

Saint Frances – Currently streaming on Starz

Who Am I? Identity Shorts

Go Back to China (also Interview with Director Emily Ting) – Currently streaming on Amazon Prime, Tubi, and Vudu

I Am Human – Currently streaming on Tubi

Once Upon a River – Currently streaming on Vudu and Tubi

Clementine – Currently streaming on Peacock and Tubi

What She Said? The Art of Pauline Kael – Currently streaming on Vudu and Tubi

Parasite – Currently streaming on Hulu (Best Picture, Best Director, Best International Film Winner)

Bathtubs Over Broadway – Currently streaming on Netflix

This is Love – Available to rent or purchase on Amazon Prime

Bitter Melon – Currently streaming on Amazon Prime

When Jeff Tried to Save the World – Currently streaming on Pluto TV, available to rent or purchase on Amazon Prime

Dark City: 20th Anniversary Screening

Claire McKenna

Shoplifters – Currently streaming on Pluto TV and Hoopla, available to rent or purchase on Amazon Prime (Best International Film Nominee)

The Last Suit – Currently streaming on Tubi, available to rent or purchase on Amazon Prime

The Legend of Cocaine Island – Currently streaming on Netflix


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