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“Local art-driven events like the Tallgrass Film Festival not only have a positive impact on Wichita’s economy but also add to the quality of life in this city.” - Robert Redford

Announcing the 2017 Stubbornly Independent Selections!

Four films will compete this year in Tallgrass’s flagship Stubbornly Independent competition: 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. (See more about the films below.)

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.

“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 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.

20 WEEKS 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.

BLUR CIRCLE Director: Chris Hansen Country: USA, Running Time: 92min

BLUR CIRLCE is the story of Jill Temple, 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.

BOMB CITY 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

I HATE THE MAN IN MY BASEMENT 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 an unconventional situation in his basement...

Meet the SI 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.

Reserve Your VIP TALLPass Now!

Don't wait another minute to reserve your own VIP experience at the 15th annual Tallgrass Film Festival coming to you this October.

As you read this, a volunteer group of 30 movie-loving Wichitans are watching over 2,000 films and curating a custom playlist of the best movies from around the world for ICT audiences.

We've done all the work for you! Just scoop up your TALLPass and enjoy the movies, parties, panels, Q&A's, VIP Filmmaker Lounge and other special surprises at the 2017 Tallgrass Film Fest.

Employee Appreciation Ticket Packages Now Available!

TFA is pleased to offer discounted ticket packages for businesses and organizations who are interested in offering their employees or clients a variety of passes or general admission tickets to the 15th annual Tallgrass Film Festival, October 18-22, 2017.

Tallgrass Film Festival provides a unique entertainment option for Wichitans, showcases the city's revitalized downtown area and many of its cultural attractions and highlights its cultural vitality.

We are also happy to customize packages for you that may include any number of the following:

  • ONE-DAY BINGE pass – Access to all films, gala party, and happy hour in the VIP Lounge (Thursday, Saturday or Sunday) $50
  • DITCH FRIDAY Pass – Access to all films, gala party and happy hour in the DITCH DEN (Friday only) $25
  • GALA pass – Access to gala film and party (Wednesday, Friday, Saturday or Sunday) $25
  • General Admission Ticket – Access to any one film (Wednesday – Sunday) $10

We are able to provide a discounted ticket rate thanks to our Employee Appreciation partners Howerton + White Interactive and Quantum Credit Union.

Download the PDF here or email Marci@tallgrassfilmfest.com for more details.

Tallgrass Film Fest Adds DOX Spotlight

TFA is proud to announce the creation of the DOX Spotlight Section which will debut during the 15th edition of the Tallgrass Film Festival Presented by Consolidated Equities Trust. TFA also announced the first jury members of the newly created section, which will be comprised of feature-length documentaries directed by women. The program is sponsored by The Greteman Group.

"Our agency’s all about storytelling. Amazing stories will rise out of this new, women-director documentary competition," said Sonia Greteman, President and Creative Director of Greteman Group. "Our sponsorship signals our belief in amplifying women’s voices. And ensuring more people hear them."

The three women that will comprise the jury for the Tallgrass Film Festival’s inaugural DOX Spotlight competition will be the Seattle International Film Festival’s Interim Artistic Director Beth Barrett, Women Make Movies Executive Director Deborah Zimmerman, and award-winning documentary filmmaker Maisie Crow. (Read more below.)

The Women's Media Center recently reported that over the last 10 years, only 20% of behind-the-camera Oscar nominations (directing, writing, editing, etc.) have been bestowed to women. When examining the highest-grossing films since 2007, only 4% of the top 1,000 titles were directed by women.

However, Tallgrass Film AssociationCreative Director, Lela Meadow-Conner noted that every year, many of the Tallgrass Film Festival's timely and challenging films have been made by women, particularly in the realm of documentary filmmaking. Meadow-Conner said, “These filmmakers often take tough subject matter and utilize their strong voices to make films that tell essential stories from thoughtful perspectives.” TFA Executive Director Marci Hawks is equally enthusiastic about the program, "We look forward to the DoXX Spotlight bringing much warranted attention to women filmmakers from around the globe.”

To be eligible for the DOX Spotlight, films must be women-directed, feature- length documentaries (male/female co-directing teams are not eligible) and not have any traditional distribution deal (theatrical or VOD) at the time of the film festival in October. These selections are not bound by budget or country of origin. Finalists will be selected by the Tallgrass Film Festival Programming Committee and will then be reviewed by the 3-woman jury of industry professionals and filmmakers.

Similar to Tallgrass’s celebrated Stubbornly Independent competition, the top film, as selected by the jury, will screen as part of an evening spotlight during the festival with a post-screening Q&A and special honors to the filmmaker(s). All other finalists will be screened in regular competition at the festival, as well.

Filmmakers may submit their films via Withoutabox or Film Freeway. All members of Film Fatales may submit their feature or short documentaries free of charge.

DOX Jury

Beth Barrett, Seattle International Film Festival
Beth Barrett is the Interim Artistic Director of SIFF (organizers of the Seattle International Film Festival, SIFF Cinema, and SIFF Education) and has been working with SIFF programming since 2003. She is responsible for all aspects of SIFF programming, including securing films for both Cinema and Festival, talent, developing special events and forum programs, and leading an international team of programmers. She attends many major film festivals, and has developed a network of programmers, filmmakers, and distributors in the search for the best films of the year. An aficionado of short films, she secured SIFF’s status as an Academy Award® qualifying festival in 2008. Beth has been in Seattle for 23 years and holds an MA in Northern Renaissance Art History.
Maisie Crow, Documentary Filmmaker

After an award-winning career as a photojournalist, Maisie Crow turned her attention to filmmaking. Her documentary, JACKSON has won awards at the Tallgrass International Film Festival, Indie Memphis, and the Oxford Film Festival. In 2014, her short film, The Last Clinic was nominated for a News and Documentary Emmy, and she was listed as one of PDN InMotion’s 20 Emerging Artists to Watch in Film and Video. In 2012, her multimedia project, Half - Lives: Chernobyl Workers Now won an Overseas Press Club award. In 2010, her short film A Life Alone was nominated for a News and Documentary Emmy. She has taught as an adjunct professor at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism and CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. She recently worked as a director of photography on MTV's documentary series, True Life.

Debra Zimmerman, Women Make Movies

Debra Zimmerman has been the Executive Director of Women Make Movies, a non-profit NY based film organization that supports women filmmakers, since 1983. During her tenure it has grown into the largest distributor of films by and about women in the world. WMM’s internationally recognized Production Assistance Program has helped hundreds of women get their films made. Films from WMM programs have been nominated or won Academy Awards for the last eight years.

15th annual Tallgrass Film Festival

Founded in 2003 by Wichita-native Tim Gruver, the Tallgrass Film Festival has presented thousands of films from around the world to Wichita-area audiences over the last 14 years. In 2015 and 2016, Tallgrass Film Festial was named one of MovieMaker Magazine's "Top 50 Festivals Worth the Entry Fee."

A hallmark of Wichita's cutural calendar, the 15th annual festival, presented by Consolidated Equities Trust, takes place October 18-22 in and around Downtown Wichita. In addition to short and feature films from around the world, the festival includes Filmmaker Labs, Roundtables, VIP receptions, Gala Parties and more.

Call for Submissions: 15th annual Tallgrass Film Festival

Tallgrass Film Association announces the call for submissions for the 15th annual Tallgrass Film Festival, October 18-22 in and around downtown Wichita, Kansas.

The largest independent film festival in the state of Kansas, the 2016 Tallgrass Film Festival has been included in MovieMaker Magazine’s annual “50 Film Festivals Worth the Entry Fee” in 2015 and 2016.
In addition to showcasing the best of independent cinema from around the globe, including documentary, narrative, world cinema, animation, LGBT, retrospective and premiering films, the 15th annual Tallgrass Film Festival is specifically seeking films to feature in the following special program categories:

•    Grasscendo: music-themed films
•    Greengrass: environmentally-themed films
•    Spotlight on Women Filmmakers: films directed by women
•    Stubbornly Independent Films: domestic, narrative features made for under $500,000 USD with no traditional distribution
•    Timothy Gruver Spotlight on Kansas Filmmakers: Kansas filmmakers submit for free – see below for official rules
•    Joel Fein Emerging Filmmakers Program: short films from filmmakers 18 and younger may submit for free – see below for official rules. This category does not include university or college filmmakers.


  • March 15: Earlybird Deadline
  • April 19: Regular Deadline
  • May 24: Late Deadline
  • June 14: Extended Deadline


The festival grants $11,000 worth of cash awards and several non-cash special recognition awards.

Tallgrass Film Association will grant cash awards in the following categories:
•    Audience Award Winning Documentary Feature: $2,500
•    Audience Award Winning Narrative Feature: $2,500
•    Stubbornly Independent Gala Winner: $5,000
•    Audience Award Winning Short Film: $1,000

Non-cash special recognition awards include:
•    Golden Strands Awards (awarded by Tallgrass Programming Directors) for Outstanding Documentary and Fiction Feature, Acting, Cinematography and more
•    Best Kansas Filmmaker Short Film
•    Best Emerging Filmmaker Short Film

Emerging Student Filmmakers (high school & younger) and Kansas filmmakers sumbit for Free!

  • Kansas and Emerging Filmmakers submit for free under their respective categories.
  • Emerging Filmmaker films MUST be works written, directed, and shot by high school age students – 18-YEARS OLD AND YOUNGER. This category is not for university or college filmmakers. Adult supervision is limited to advisory capacity. Emerging filmmakers must submit a copy of his/her valid high school identification (student id, school record, passport, drivers license or official identification that includes date of birth) to receive the fee waiver and to be eligible for this category.
  • In order to receive fee waivers for Kansas filmmakers, Kansas filmmakers must submit a valid Kansas address, connection and identification respectively to receive the fee waiver. Kansas Filmmaker films are eligible for festival prizes, if the film is accepted as an “in competition” screening in the festival.

Submission Guidelines

  • Films must have been completed after December 2016. Some exceptions will be considered for non-domestic releases.
  • Online screeners from secure sources are preferred. Include screener link and password in your submission.
  • 2 submission preview copies of the film are required if you are submitting on disc media (DVD).
  • Press kit is optional - electronic only, please
  • A Wichita premiere is required. World and US Premieres are not required, however premieres (especially Kansas premieres) are preferred and premiere status may be one of the factors considered when determining a film's inclusion in the Festival.
  • The festival does not screen films available on VOD or any online streaming portal at the time of the festival. However, the festival reserves the right to make exceptions to this rule.
  • All films in a language other than English must be subtitled in English for festival presentation.
  • The festival will consider work-in-progress, films with temporary soundtracks, digital outputs, and work that did not originate on film Filmmakers must deliver final format (as indicated) for Festival screening. No exceptions will be permitted.

2016 Festival By The Numbers

  • 16,428 Total Festival Attendance
  • 1962 Total Films Submitted to the Tallgrass Film Festival
  • 335 Total Community Volunteers
  • 194 Total Films Screened at the Tallgrass Film Festival
  • 123 Participating Film Professionals
  • 68 number of local vendors & businesses invested in for goods & services
  • 33 Countries Represented in the festival lineup
  • 26 Volunteer Film Programmers
  • 24 Non-Profit Community Partners
  • 23 Downtown Festival Venues

Click here to visit the 2016 Film Festival website incuding lineup, special events, award winners, sponsors and visiting filmmakers.