Assorted merchandise on a wire rack, blue shirt, black shirt, posters, socks, glasses, and mugs

Hello from our new Executive Director

Hello Tallgrass family,

I am so honored to join the Tallgrass team at a pivotal time for the festival as we are now grown up at 18 and almost 19. Like every industry, independent film was hit hard during the pandemic. While we’ve all experienced great loss recently, as a community, the joy of being able to once again come together post-vaccines is on the horizon. However, the opportunities of virtual has opened up new ways to connect for the future also. But we look forward to having filmmakers in Wichita again and hearing your applause and great questions for them.

While we do say goodbye to long-time programmer Nick Pope this year, we hope that the new developments of Andre Seward as our new program director and Hannah Bothner, filmmaker relations and shorts programmer, will help revitalize the great path Nick laid out for us.

I do want to start with an acknowledgment before I get too far, of those that came before us here in Kansas. I hope to develop this out further as an official land acknowledgment for Tallgrass in the future. Wichita, self-name Kitikiti’sh, were encountered by the Spanish in the mid-16th century and became the first group of Plains Indians subject to missionization. Others also resided here before the treaties and colonization that took their way of life. At my home here in Old Town, specifically the tribe Osage resided. Furthermore, Kansas is the current home to four federally recognized Native nations: The Prairie Band Potawatomie, the Kickapoo Tribe of Kansas, the Iowa Tribe of Kansas and Nebraska, and Sac and Fox Nation of Missouri in Kansas and Nebraska.

I look forward to exploring this history further and finding ways to recognize and honor it.

I’ve long followed the Tallgrass Film Association and love the work that has gone in the past 19 years. I hope to continue the original mission Tim Gruver set in place while helping us find our sea legs in the new mid-pandemic world. Education and filmmaking are huge priorities for me so I am excited that our Emerging Programmers Apprentice program is currently accepting applications and our Take 36 program will happen again this year.

As a big fan of Gordon Parks, I am also excited that we are bringing on our new award in his name and cash prize sponsored by Cargill. What an exciting opportunity to celebrate a homegrown filmmaker!

I hope to meet each and every one of you in person soon on a patio downtown or definitely in October at our 19th annual! Reach out anytime to say hello!


Melanie Addington