Tallgrass Film Association

Host to the largest independent film festival in the state of Kansas, as well as year round programming helping foster the community’s appreciation for the art of film.

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Our Mission

Tallgrass Film Association fosters an appreciation of the cinematic arts by creating shared experiences around the international medium of film.

Our Purpose

Tallgrass Film Association entertains, educates, and inspires audiences in the Wichita community and beyond by showcasing the best of independent films from around the world through an annual 5-day film festival, year-round special screenings, filmmaking competitions and filmmaker labs. We strive to preserve the cultural tradition of film as a communal adventure. Movies bring us together: they entertain, spark conversation, build community and forge new relationships.

Our Core Values:

Independent film and filmmaking
We value the significance of independent film and the art of filmmaking.

Artistic integrity
We honor artistic integrity while striving for excellence.

Artistic development
We embrace the process of developing artists.

Sense of community and community experience
We create opportunities for community connections and impactful conversations.

Inclusion and diversity.
We commit to meaningful inclusion and diversity in film, audience and artists.

Our Vision for the Wichita Community:

Wichita will be a community that values filmmaking, as a place that appreciates the art of independent film, fosters growth and success among those making films locally, and draws filmmakers from around the world to experience our stories, locations, talent, culture and hospitality.

Tallgrass Film Association Team

Melanie Addington is wearing a flower shirt and red sweater and smiling at camera
Melanie Addington, Executive Director

melanie [at] tallgrassfilm.org

White Female with Glasses and a Blue Top, Smiling
Hannah Bothner, Operations Manager

hannah [at] tallgrassfilm.org

Man with mustache, African American descent, wearing a blue and white striped shirt looks at camera.
Andre Seward, Programming Director

programming[at]tallgrassfilm.org

White Male smiles at camera wearing blue shirt
Tom Mittlestadt, Events Director

info[at] tallgrassfilm.org

White male with glasses and beard and gray shirt looks at camera
Larry Knott, Accountant

larry [at] tallgrassfilm.org

Film Festival Team

Doanna Ayon

Box Office Manager

Naythan Smith

Technology Coordinator

Shannon Boone

Hospitality Director

Brian Gray

Beverage Coordinator

Delilah Reed

Social Host

Hugo Phan

Venue Manager Coordinator

Thane Chastain

Education Manager

Josh Williams

Webmaster & Design Coordinator josh [at] tallgrassfilm.org

White female smiles at camera with long hair
Jessica Brazil

Logistics and Experience Assistant

Kelsey Unruh

Volunteer Coordinator

Tina Walterscheid

Community Engagement Coordinator

Crickett Rumley

Panels Coordinator

Maria Garcia

Transportation Coordinator

Nathan Kampe

Runner

Board of Directors

Mark Janzen
Mark Janzen

Board President for 2023

Mark Janzen

Kubera Venture Capital

Mark Janzen is a software engineering executive and entrepreneur living in Wichita, Kansas. Having founded multiple technology companies including Janzen Software, Windemere Capital, and Applianz Technologies, Mark currently works as a consultant to software companies and a partner with Kubera Venture Capital. Mark is a native Kansan and graduate of Bethel College in North Newton. He is a mentor to startup founders in both Wichita and Seattle and active in several charities including the board of the Tallgrass Film Festival in Wichita

Alicia Sanchez
Alicia Sanchez

President-Elect

Alicia Sanchez

Spirit AeroSystems

Alicia Sanchez is a passionate advocate and social entrepreneur committed to guiding leaders and organizations to foster a culture of inclusion. She currently serves as the Global Culture, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion manager for Spirit AeroSystems. Alicia obtained her master’s degree in Business Administration from Friends University, and she is a current doctoral student in the higher education leadership program at Wichita State University. She is the past board chair for the Wichita Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and she currently serves as a commissioner for the Kansas Human Right Commission, is a City of Wichita District Two Advisory Board member and serves on several non-profit boards. In the past several years, she has been recognized as the 2019 Wichita State University Young Alumni of the Year, a 2018 Wichita State President’s Distinguished Service Award honoree, a Leader in Diversity and Inclusion, a Woman in Business, and a 40 under 40 honoree by the Wichita Business Journal, and as a Community Champion by the Kansas Hispanic and Latino American Affairs Commission. In her free time she enjoys traveling, watching classic 80’s movies, and spending time with her two sons.

Sarah Leslie
Sarah Leslie

Secretary

Sarah Leslie

Leslie Coffee Company

Sarah Leslie is the owner of Leslie Coffee Co. in Wichita’s Historic Delano District. Her coffee career began in 2006 in NYC while she was studying Film and French at Pace University. She went on to receive a MA in Cinema Studies from NYU. She is a career barista who has traveled all over the world teaching people how to make coffee as a volunteer with the Barista Guild and Specialty Coffee Association (Past Chair of BG and SCA Board Member in 2019). She moved back to her hometown, Wichita, KS, in 2016 and at the end of 2018, she opened Leslie Coffee Co. intent on creating a neighborhood coffee spot where everyone feels welcomed.

Anna Heustis
Anna Heustis

Treasurer

Anna Heustis

Koch Industries

Anna is a North Dakota native who relocated to Wichita for work but stayed because she fell in love with Wichita. She is a CPA and spends her days working at Koch Industries as a tax accountant. In her free time you can find her enjoying Wichita’s food and wine scene, exploring all the art and culture Wichita has to offer (including catching a film at the Tallgrass Film Center) or volunteering with the Junior League of Wichita

Adam Gunnels
Adam Gunnels

Past Board President

Adam Gunnels

City of Wichita 

Adam Charles Gunnels is a lawyer serving Wichita in Intellectual Property Law and Entertainment & Sports Law cases.

Veronica Seberger
Veronica Seberger

Board Member

Veronica Seberger

Cognitive Performance Health

Veronica Seberger is Board-Certified in Neurofeedback and incorporates biofeedback into her work at Cognitive Performance & Health, where she’s been administering both since 2014. She is also a certified nutritional health coach and enjoys working with children and adults from all walks of life. Veronica graduated from nursing school at the University of San Francisco. In school, she was a member of the Alpha Gamma Sigma fraternity and was President of the Honor Society. Her professional associations include AAPB, ISNR, WIBA, and the Junior League of Wichita. She also volunteers at Open Door to feed the homeless multiple times a year.

Julian Montes
Julian Montes

Board Member

Julian Montes

Kansas Leadership Center

Julian was born in El Paso, TX and now resides in Wichita, KS as a champion of multicultural leadership and an advocate for Latino artists and creatives for the sake of creating stronger, more prosperous communities. He is employed at the Kansas Leadership Center as a Technology and Creative Services Manager where his work is to elevate learning in and outside the classroom through emerging technologies. Whether producing programs virtually through ZOOM, or live in person in KLC’s Konza Hall or through the YouTube and Facebook live platforms, Julian aims to bring unusual voices to the front of the room. When not in the production chair – he operates as KLC’s onsite photographer and videographer and offers support to the Avanzando Juntos and Journal Live programming. When he is not helping equip Latinos and other communities across the globe lead more effectively, you’ll find him behind the camera sharing others’ stories through his own studio Azcary Creative, particularly those in highlighting members of diverse communities. When it comes time to relax, Julian spends his time with his wife Krissy and pup, Daphne strolling through art dense areas of Wichita.

Johnathan Wood
Jonathan Wood

Board Member

Jonathan Wood

Margaritas, Owner

I am a Wichita native, born and raised. I attended Friends university where I received my degrees in Graphic Design and Communications. The Art faculty at Friends instilled a deep love for all of the arts… not just our chosen disciplines. It was during this time in my life that I began attending the Tallgrass Film Festival with the very first one, and I have been hooked ever since!  I have watched Wichita grow culturally, slowly (painfully slow sometimes…) into what I believe is a culturally diverse and rich community. Tallgrass’ contribution to this is not small, drawing national and global recognition for our little film fest in the prairie. I love talking with filmmakers in attendance and hearing time and time again that Wichita has really surprised them — and they love it. 

Kate Bastian
Kate Bastian

Board Member

Kate Bastian

Community Advocate

I grew up in St. Louis, but love Wichita.  Married to Clay for 35 years we have LA son Peter about to be 30, and Brooklyn daughter Meredith is 28.  I love dogs, movies, art, traveling, old house stuff and tennis.  Most of my time has been spent taking pictures and working  on building a school for dyslexia (serving on the Board of the Phillips Fundamental Learning Center), for kids and teacher training and oh, tennis. Kate previously served for six years on the Tallgrass Board.

Dennis Murphy
Dennis Murphy

Board Member

Dennis Murphy

Designer

I have spent the last 40 years standing behind a chair doing hairstyling, the last 20 years I have added interior design to my resume also. I am currently involved with The Table of Hope food bank and have been involved with most aspects of that organization, I am also serving on the Friends of the Wichita Art Museum for the last 3 years chairing several committees and now serving as Treasurer. As a huge lover of film I believe strongly in what the Tallgrass Film Festival brings to Wichita and want to help support it any way I can!

Todd Ramsey
Todd Ramsey

Board Member

Todd Ramsey

Apples & Arrows

Todd is the founder and chief strategist of Apples & Arrows, a branding agency
in Wichita, Kansas. As the son of a coal miner and a rodeo clown, Todd learned from an
early age the values of digging deep and doing whatever it takes to capture people’s
attention. These values inform his desire to help clients uncover, articulate and
celebrate their unique brand story. Todd is an ESTP on the Meyers Briggs personality
type indicator, and according to the Clifton Strengths Finder, his top five strengths are
Woo, Communication, Strategy, Adaptability and Maximizer. These facts aren’t highly
relevant for a bio, but do serve as interesting tidbits to know about someone. He
currently serves on the Wichita Community Foundation and Wichita Art Museum
boards, and is an active participant in the Wichita creative scene, including the Take 36
Film Race competitions.

Bob Nugent
Bob Nugent

Board Member

Bob Nugent

Retired Judge

Raised in Philadelphia, Bob Nugent came to Kansas University for college in the 1970s and has lived in the Wichita area since 1987. He is a retired lawyer and judge. With wife Linda, he is an avid supporter of the arts in many forms and has enjoyed movies of all kinds all his life. He joined the Tallgrass board in 2020 and has served in a number of volunteer roles, including as Secretary in 2021. Bob enjoys the movies, but his true passion is music. He sings and plays the guitar locally. There’s also time for golf, reading, working out, supporting KU and WSU athletics, and drinking coffee with other old guys. Bob’s best role is being “Grandpa” to two great little boys. Bob will watch pretty much any movie that is in black and white.

Denise Sherman
Denise Sherman

Board Member

Denise Sherman

Executive Director of The Kansas African American Museum

 Ms. Sherman serves as the Executive Director for The Kansas African American Museum where she provides leadership by strategically focusing on the African American story, and experience through the elevation of all forms of art, education, history, heritage, and legacy of the African and African American culture. Using technology and innovative ideas, Ms. Sherman has retooled and upgraded educational programs for virtual/online access, developed new cultural awareness and enrichment programming in response to DE&I, social and political climates, as well as moderated and participated in panel discussions with community leaders regarding sensitive, relevant, and compelling issues and topics.

Holly Dyer
Holly Dyer

Board Member

Holly Dyer

Foulston Siefkin LLP

Holly is a partner in the law firm of Foulston Siefkin LLP, practicing in the area of commercial and complex litigation. Holly is a lifelong Kansan and film-lover. Holly’s love of film started at a young age, with weekly trips with her parents to the beautiful El Dorado Theater and the Star Vu Drive-In in El Dorado, where Holly was introduced at age 9 to the comic genius of Mel Brooks’ Blazing Saddles. Holly’s favorite films include Donnie Darko, No Country for Old Men, Fargo, and The Godfather I and II. Holly is in her second term on the Tallgrass board.

Lester Rowe
Lester Rowe

Board Member

Lester Rowe

Filmmaker

Filmmaker Lester Rowe has made several documentaries and human interest stories that examine the fringes of society BMX culture, extreme sports, music, and more. Documentaries Like Wifi at Rock Bottom:Something About Meth which he also authored a book of the same title, garnered him both attention and accolades for his look at a girl’s meth addiction and recovery. Even though documentaries would be a genre he would fall in love with, Rowe’s true passion in filmmaking is suspense films and thrillers. When the world stopped and America went into lockdown Rowe, like many Americans was unemployed and at home looking for something to do. Inspired by a friend who would fall ill of the covid-19 virus in march 2020, he decided to take the leap over to narrative film and make the one-man-band short film, STAY Home. Little did he know what the pandemic would become and how it would affect his future. Lester is also a commercial producer and host who graduated from Booker T Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in his hometown of Dallas, Texas.

Ann Keefer
Ann Keefer

Board Member

Ann Keefer

Independent Consultant and Community-Builder

Ann recently left Wichita Festivals, Inc., after nearly 10 years where she served as Vice-President of Programming. She was responsible for planning and programming the Wichita Riverfest, a 9-day community celebration with over 100 events, and also Autumn and Art, the 3-day outdoor fine art show and sale. She served as Vice President of Marketing for the Wichita Downtown Development Corporation for 10 years before joining WFI, and prior to that owned her own event company.

Having the privilege of being involved with numerous fundraising and community events spanning her career, she has acquired a wealth of experience from producing events of all sizes, from a local farmers market with daily attendance of 1,000 to Riverfest which attracted over 400,000 people annually. She has been responsible for launching or enhancing some of Wichita’s longest-running events include Second Saturday, Final Friday, Old Town Blues Crawl, Wichita, Downtown Chili Cookoff and numerous other events. Her success as a “connector” has led to developing strong partnerships with business, government, media and creative leaders. Her volunteer service has placed her on numerous local non-profit boards, including Tallgrass where she has served since its inception in 2003.

Lisa Tatum
Lisa Tatum

Board Member

Lisa Tatum

Political Activist

Lisa Tatum received her MA – Notre Dame- Psychology and M.Ed – Virginia Commonwealth

She is a Precinct Committee Member SCDP and Delegate to KDP. She also serves on the Jazz Fest Board – Wichita, District Advisory Board, City Council #6 and is a Graduate student at WSU.

Christa Rude Vazeos

Board Member

Christa Rude Vazeos

Model

Christa Rude Vazeos is a Wichita native and International Model who began her career working in Paris, France. She has worked all over the world and has lived on every continent but Antartica. Currently, she lives in both Greece and Kansas, highlighting those who serve the world by example & consults all ages and groups in Universal Style through her global team at Role Models International. Christa has been active with Tallgrass events, Girl Scouts USA and GSUSAOverseas, Wichita State University, with homeless shelters in Wichita as well as Syrian refugees in Greece.  Christa’s interests belong primarily to the arts in all it’s form, but also enjoys fine dining, public speaking, travel and learning about people & their personal story.

Adrienne McAlpine

Board Member

Adrienne McAlpine

Adrienne McAlpine is a Wichita native that returned home in 2010. She obtained her Bachelor of Arts from Smith College and her Master of Public Administration from Wichita State University. Adrienne currently serves a board member of POWER CDC, and volunteers her times as its grant writer to support the renovation of the reimagined Historic Dunbar Theatre. She also serves her community as incoming President of the Power Neighborhood Association, and is a candidate to serve on the City of Wichita’s board for Bike/Walk Wichita.

Jennifer Rygg

Board Member

Jennifer Rygg

I’m a self-employed Design Professional with a degree in Architecture from the University of Kansas. I spend my days designing and creating vibrant, beautiful and functional spaces for both commercial and residential clients. As an art enthusiast and supporter, I have been honored to be a part of the Ulrich Alliance Board and serve on the Wichita Art Museum Building Committee. Both positions allowed me to further participate in our burgeoning and vibrant art community. I look forward to serving on the Tallgrass Board.

Alex Thomas

Board Member

Alex Thomas

Alex Thomas was born in Ipoh Malaysia but has been a resident of Kansas for the majority of his life. Alex was the lead singer of local band, OPhil and is the current singer of Monterey Jack and owns several local businesses.

Shannon O'Neil

Board Member

Shannon O'Neil

Shannon is a certified public accountant providing tax and strategic services to the nonprofit and healthcare industries at AdamsBrown LLC in Wichita. She is a Kansas native who attended Wichita State University for both her undergraduate and Master of Accountancy degrees. Shannon also serves on the board of NonProfit Go, a Wichita-based organization that mentors and supports nonprofit organizations. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her family, walking her dogs, or meeting friends for coffee and crafts.

Susan Moeder

Board Member

Susan Moeder

Mom, grandma, Landscape Architect, business owner and co-founder of Moeder and Associates with her husband Leon. Long time supporter of the festival and Wichita. I was buying local and touting the Wichita flag before it became a cliché.

Danielle Johnson

Board Member

Danielle Johnson

Wichita Habitat For Humanity

Danielle Johnson lives by the mantra think, speak, and act for yourself and your community. Danielle is the Executive Director of Wichita Habitat for Humanity, and the majority owner of Inclusive Growth Strategies a diversity, inclusion, and equity consulting business. She prides herself on being an affordable housing advocate, conversation catalyst, inclusion and diversity educator, community mobilizer, and super volunteer. Danielle is a product of USD 259 public schools, a two-time Wichita State University Shocker with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master’s degree in public administration. Danielle has taken courses with Advance Kansas Class VI, Kansas Leadership Center, Young Professionals of Wichita Leadership Academy, and Leadership Wichita. Danielle and her spouse District 1 councilmen Brandon Johnson are the proud parents of three children ages 18, 9, and 4. Danielle has extensive nonprofit and community engagement experience. Danielle sees the importance of representation and pushes to move the needle in the space she’s in. Ultimately, what drives Danielle is her passion for our community as a whole without ever forgetting that community is made up of individuals coming together.

Emily Bonavia
Emily Bonavia

Board Emeritus

Emily Bonavia

Bonavia Properties

All you have to know is, I met Tim Gruver in 2002, happy serendipity that put me on board for WAMPA (later Tallgrass Film Association), the non-profit that would present Tallgrass Film Festival. I loved Tim, loved his enthusiasm; and…must believe in his vision, since I’m still here!

Floyd Gruver
Floyd Gruver

Board Emeritus

Floyd Gruver

Retired

Floyd’s son Tim founded the festival and the Gruvers have remained an active part of the festival.

"Wouldn't It Be Great If..."

Wichita, Kansas had a film festival?

TFA, a 501(c)(3) arts organization was founded in 2003 by Timothy Gruver. Timothy was a Wichita Native who studied filmmaking at Brigham Young University (often sneaking into Sundance Film Festival parties to mingle with the stars) before moving to Los Angeles for his first job with Dreamworks Animation, followed by Outfest and the Los Angeles Film Festival.

Tim returned to Wichita in 2002 to found the Wichita Association for Motion Picture Arts (later named the Tallgrass Film Association). Tim believed Wichita could be the next Telluride — obvious geographical issues aside — and created the city’s first annual Tallgrass Film Festival, held in October 2003.

Tim amassed a dedicated board of directors and volunteers, many of whom remain with the organization today.

Tragically, Tim passed away suddenly at the age of 33, just prior to the third festival. The board, staff and community united, determined that the show must go on.

Since then, the festival has expanded to a 5-day format and TFA’s year round programming has increased to include screenings, special events, a traveling road show and educational programming. TFA emphasizes community partnerships and regularly collaborates with the Music Theatre Wichita, Wichita Art Museum, Botanica, Ulrich Museum of Art, Exploration Place, Sedgwick County Historical Museum, Orpheum Theatre, CityArts and Wichita Symphony Orchestra to name just a few, as well as tens of other non-profit organizations throughout the region.

In January 2003, Gruver told the Wichita Eagle, on founding TFA,  “I want it to be done for the love of film, for the audience.” We think he’d be proud.

Tallgrass Film Festival, Explained

by The Chung Report:

https://thechungreport.com/tallgrass-explained/

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Check out our event photos on our Facebook gallery.

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