Last night the 12th annual Tallgrass Film Festival kicked off with a screening of “Life Itself,” a feature documentary about Roger Ebert, in front of a packed audience at the Orpheum Theater. It was an amazing story covering the scope of Ebert’s professional life intertwined with interviews and a glimpse into his personal life during his final days before passing away. The film was preceded by a hilarious short (The Gunfighter) that had Wichita rolling in the aisles with laughter. Those of Oz showed why Wichita is the best place for independent films and filled the Orpheum on a Wednesday night with the Royals racing for the ALCS Pennant. “Life Itself” Producer Zak Piper was on hand for a great Q&A after and then it was time to let loose! As to be expected, the film was followed by an amazing gala (fancy word for party) at Union Station featuring a firehouse theme, delicious food, amazing music by Robin Macy and the Cherokee Maidens, the unveiling of Lamphouse Photo Co.’s gorgeous new “Birdie Booth” photo booth, and much more!
If you missed out on last night…here’s a little peek into what’s happening today and our recommendations on what not to miss:
THURSDAY – OCTOBER 18, 2014
- 10:30 AM “Metro Manila” is playing at the Scottish Rite. It is a narrative feature from the Philippines about a family fleeing poverty to seek out new opportunities in the city. This crime thriller will play Friday at 4:45 PM at WSU Shift Space if Thursday morning at 10:30 is too early for you. Subtitles in English.
- 11:45 AM a pair of featurette docs with a focus on Kansas farming and agriculture. “Cowboys” and “Great American Wheat Harvest” spotlight the Kansas cattle and wheat industry and are great insight to the backbone of our state’s leading industries.
- 1:15 PM “Johnny Winter: Down and Dirty” is playing at the Scottish Rite. It is a feature doc about the legendary blues innovator, Johnny Winter that should not be missed by any lover of music. Can’t make it on Thursday? It screens again on Saturday, 4:45 PM at the Orpheum.
- 3 PM a series of short docs is playing at the Historical Museum featuring stories as short at 6 minutes to shorts as long as 32 minutes. Kate Van Steenhuyse always says, “Every documentary I’ve ever seen is always at least 15 minutes too long.” Telling a true story in less than 30 minutes is not easy to do and we highly recommend this to any young filmmakers and documentary filmmakers.
- 3:45 PM “Fight Church” is playing at the Scottish Rite. It is a feature doc about Christianity in boxing and professional fighting with a juxtaposition of love thy neighbor…punch thy neighbor.
- 5 PM “The Great Invisible” is playing at the Orpheum. It is a feature doc on the oil rig explosion and spill in the Gulf, 2010 and sure to open your eyes to knowledge of devastation not reported in any major US news. If you’re busy Thursday night like me, you can catch it again Friday morning at 9:45 AM in the Garvey Theater.
- 5 PM is also the “Go Wichita VIP Shindig.” Join festival sponsors and VIPs to toast the 2014 visiting filmmakers and welcome them to Wichita at one of the city’s newest rooftop venues, the Penthouse at Mayflower Plaza. Drinks, eats from Truffles Catering and live music by the Jim Vegas Band. Not a VIP? It’s never too late to buy a TALLPass – get yours at the Orpheum box Office now!
- 7 PM “Gone Doggy Gone” is playing at the Orpheum. It s a feature narrative about a couple trudging through their relationship and treating their dog as if it were a human baby. As the author of “So Long Freedom” and young parent I am very intrigued by the film and it is the Thursday Night Spotlight Film from Tallgrass.
- 7:30 PM “Mad As Hell” is playing at the Scottish Rite. If there was one film you could see today…this is the one I’d recommend and the one I’m dying to see. This feature documentary about the most popular online show “The Young Turks” will surely be packed with entertainment and current world issues. This is also a Thursday Night Spotlight Film and my #1 pick for the day.
- 9:45 PM “Ladies of the House” is playing at the Orpheum. It is a feature horror film with pinup girls. I like horror films and I like pinup girls…what more is there to say? This seems to be a fun way to round out the night and aimed at a younger audience and will play again Saturday night at 9:15 PM. If you don’t like horror films and pinup girls, this probably isn’t the flick for you…but who doesn’t like pinup girls?!!!
For full details and the Tallgrass schedule CLICK HERE.
Don’t forget to head over to the Lux for the VIP lounge where everything is on the house! Don’t have a TALLPass? Seriously, just the films playing today are worth the price of $195! Head over to the Orpheum Box Office and get yours today so you are ready to rock for the weekend! Have fun out there and we’ll see you at Tallgrass!
This Tallgrass Film Festival update is brought to you by Ryan W. Gates. Ryan is a filmmaker, author, marketing director, business owner, family-man, and active member in the Wichita community with deep ties to the arts.