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

Tallgrass Film Association Announces Winners of the 21st Annual Film Festival Being Held in Downtown Wichita October 5-8, in Several Venues, Including Historic Orpheum Theatre

NEW: Audience Award Winners voted upon as of October 30.

Audience Favorite Documentary Feature

Karen Carpenter: Starving for Perfection

• Audience Favorite Narrative Feature

Tokyo Cowboy

• Audience Favorite Narrative Short

Death & Ramen

• Audience Favorite Documentary Short

My Name is Annabel

• Audience Favorite Vortex Film

Welcome to 8th Street 

• Audience Favorite Kansas Film


Wichita, KS (October 7, 2023) – The Tallgrass Film Association held the awards ceremony after the Gala Film TOKYO COWBOY on Saturday, October 7. 

The Festival’s first jury had the honor of selecting the winner of one of our newest categories, the Murmurations Award Sponsored by SpiritAerosystems. In collaboration with the Ulrich Museum of Art, the Murmurations category is for Spanish contemporary cinema, a celebration of the enduring connection between Spain and Kansas exemplified by Joan Miró’s (1893-1983) monumental mural “Personages Oiseaux,” or “Bird People,” as it stands out as a welcoming icon to Wichita State University. The Murmurations category is open to short and feature films that meet the following requirements: fifty percent of production is based in Spain OR the writer, director, or producer is based in Spain; the original voice is in Spanish or one of the co-official languages of Spain (Basque, Catalan, Aranese, and Valencian); and subtitled in the English language.

Winner of the Best Murmurations Feature Film winning $250 sponsored by Spirit Aerosystems is LA VOLUNTARIA/THE VOLUNTEER, directed by Nely Reguera. 

Jury comments: A poignant film, LA VOLUNTARIA/THE VOLUNTEER invites its viewers to consider the depth of the human heart’s capacity to care about others and the limits of individual action in response to global refugee crises.

The Best Murmurations Short Film winner is “Arnasa,” directed by Raúl Barreras.

Jury comments: “Arnasa” is a meditation on life, death, grief, and moving on. “Arnasa” also offers a window into life in the rural Basque country, where a grandfather and grandson share tender moments of connection bridging the generational divide.

Documentary Short Film Winner is also sponsored by SpiritAerosystems. The Murmurations and Documentary Shorts Jury members are Jean Anne Lauer, Alex Garcia Topete, and Raul Benitez.

Documentary Short Film, Honorable Mention:

The jury would like to recognize “American Sikh” directed by Ryan Westra and Vishavjit Singh with an Honorable Mention. 

Documentary Short Film Winner

“The Script” directed by Brit Fryer, Noah Schamus 

Jury comment: A film that challenges form and signification in both its construction and its content, “The Script” foregrounds how the personal understanding of identity, the performance of identity for others, and social constructs including therapy for those exploring their gender identities, are at their best when the conversations and identities expressed are understood as both reciprocal and fluid.

Our Woman Filmmaker and Feature Documentary Jury members are Lonita Cook, Jennifer Merin, and Caitlyn Cody 

The Woman Filmmaker Spotlight Award, to qualify for this award the film must be a female-identifying-directed feature without traditional, theatrical, or domestic distribution at the time of the festival screening. 

Honorable mention Your Fat Friend directed by Jeanie Finlay.

Winning $5,000 sponsored by Fidelity Bank: and the winner is El ROSTRO DE LA MEDUSA (The Face Of The Jellyfish) directed by Melisa Liebenthal.

Documentary feature award Honorable Mention: Great Photo, Lovely Life directed by Amanda Mustard. 

Winner of Best Documentary Feature: Israelism directed by Eric Axelman, Sam Eilertsen 

Our Emerging Filmmaker Jury, our category for filmmakers 18 and under: Mason Vietti, Monica Biltz, Piper Prichard. 

Our Thane Chastain award for Best Emerging Documentary Short honorable mention: My Friend David directed by Alexandra Bree Carson.

The Best Emerging Narrative Short: See You Yesterday, directed by Ethan Dela Cruz.

The Thane Chastain award Best Emerging Narrative Short Winning $100 sponsored by the WSU School of Digital Arts, and a scholarship for a New York Film Academy online workshop: Has an honorable mention first: Room directed by Ian Dani Kim. 

And then winning $100 sponsored by the WSU School of Digital Arts: A Prayer for My Mother: The Eva Brettler Story directed by Ruben Barrett, Raisa Effress, Sophia Evans, Lauren Fuchs, Katie Hadsock-Longarzo, Ian Kim, Eve Levy, Timothy Lim, Asher Meron, Marion Ochoa, Isabella Rahi, Hank Schoen, and Olivia Uziell.

Our Kansas Feature, Kansas Short Film, & Narrative Short Film Jury: Sheri L Kaufman-Marsh, Jedd Beaudoin, and Milan Chakraborty. 

Two honorable mentions for Narrative Short: Death and Ramen by Tiger Ji and Confessions by Stephanie Kaznocha.

Best Narrative Short is Voice Activated by Steve Anthopoulos.

Best Kansas Filmmaker Documentary Short Winning $100 sponsored by Moeder and Associates is Emerging Artists by Lindsey Doolittle.

For Best Kansas Filmmaker Narrative Short, the Honorable Mention to Run Amok by Nitzan Mager.

Best Kansas Filmmaker Narrative Short Winning $100 sponsored by Moeder and Associates: is Slow Dance by Micah Streeter.

Best Kansas Filmmaker Feature Winning $100 sponsored by Moeder and Associates: is Head Count by the Burghart Brothers.

The jury for our GORDON PARKS award and Feature Narrative Award is Sean Armstrong, Jamie Broadnax, and Jon-Sesrie Goff. 

First up is Best Narrative Feature honorable mention for Hanging Gardens directed by Ahmed Al Daradji. 

A second honorable mention went to Hello Dankness, directed by Soda Jerk.

Narrative Feature winner is Tokyo Cowboy, directed by Marc Marriott.

The Gordon Parks Award for Black Excellence in Filmmaking, 

Honorable mention is Chocolate Milk directed by Elizabeth Gray Bayne.

And winning $5,000 sponsored by Cargill and $15,000 in Panavision Camera Rental is Black Barbie.

Stubbornly Independent and Vortex Jury: Bill Guentzler, Jim Brunzell III, and last year’s Stubbornly Independent Award winner with his film Attack, Decay, Release H.P. Mendoza. 

First up is our Vortex category for all animation, experimental, or hybrid projects. 

The jury had an honorable mention for Llamas at the Laundromat. Best Vortex Short Film Winning $250 sponsored by Lynda Carrier Metz and Mark Metz: is M.I.A. and Cats.

Our final award is the Stubbornly Independent Winner sponsored by The Cotillion and Lucky’s, to qualify for this category a film must be a US Domestic narrative feature film made for $750,000 or under, without traditional, theatrical, domestic distribution at the time of the festival screening, Winning $5,000 and a one-of-a-kind Tallgrass Tap Handle made by Van Chase Studios. 

The winner is Lost Soulz directed by Katherine Propper.

EDA Awards

In partnership with the Alliance of Women Film Journalists the EDAs goal is to highlight female talent behind the camera. Named in honor of AWFJ founder Jennifer Merin’s mother, Eda Reiss Merin, a stage, film, and television actress whose career spanned more than 60 years and one of the founders of Aftra and led the movement to pair Sag & Aftra. 

  • EDA Award Special Mention for Best Female-Directed Short
  • THIS IS CONCRETE directed by Alice Gosti and June Zandona  
  • EDA Award for Best Female-Directed Short
  • JELLY directed by Anndi Jinelle Liggett 
  • EDA Award for Best Female-Directed Feature
  • BLACK BARBIE: A DOCUMENTARY directed by Lagueria Davis

Programmer Awards:

  • Outstanding Cinematography: Adolfo – Director of Photography: Leo Calzoni
  • Outstanding Screenplay: Stay at Conder Beach directed by Aaron Khandros 
  • Outstanding Editing: Gold and Mud edited by Ryan Steele 
  • Outstanding Sound Design: This is Concrete Sound Design by Monika Knot – Nordra, directed by Alice Gosti and June Zandona 
  • Outstanding Rising Star: Ashraf Tumuheirwe from You’re Not Home directed by Derek Ugochukwu
  • Outstanding Performance: Taietsarón:sere ‘Tai’ Leclaire from Headdress 
  • Outstanding Supporting Performance: Trae Harris from The Vacation directed by Jarreau Carrillo
  • Outstanding Ensemble Cast: Mahogany Drive directed by Jerah Milligan
  • Outstanding Art Direction: Playland Art Direction by Brent Garbowski and directed by Georden West 
  • Outstanding Courage in Filmmaking: The Judgement directed by Marwan Mokbel 
  • Outstanding First Feature: Summer of Violence directed by Nicki Micheaux

Audience Award voting continues along with virtual until October 30. Learn more about what films play tallgrassfilm.org




Stubbornly Independent since 2003, the Tallgrass Film Festival is the largest Film Festival in Kansas. A program of the 501(c)3 Tallgrass Film Association, the Festival showcases more than 200 films from around the world, hosts dozens of visiting filmmakers, and includes galas, parties, and educational workshops and panels. In addition to bringing the best of independent cinema to heartland audiences, the Festival is designed to highlight the city’s cultural attractions including world-class museums, landmarks, and unique local businesses, to visitors and residents alike. Throughout the year, TFA presents independent cinema at the year-round film center in the Lux.

The 21st annual Tallgrass Film Festival is sponsored by Archer Hotels, City of Wichita, Howerton + White, Selig Polyscope Company, House of Schwan, National Endowment for the Arts with support from Cargill, Fidelity Bank, Scholfield Honda, Sheppard Foundation, Bonavia Family Charitable Trust, CarStar Exploration Place, IHeart Radio/Clear Channel Outdoor, Newport Grill, Orpheum Performing Arts Center, Panavision and Clay & Kate Bastian.