Tallgrass at 20: An insider’s guide

By Janice Van Sickle | August 31, 2022

Janice Van Sickle

Do you know that we have a nationally recognized film festival right here in Wichita? The Tallgrass Film Festival has been named one of the “Top 50 Film Festivals Worth the Entry Fee” by MovieMaker magazine seven times. The festival’s motto — “Stubbornly Independent” — seems to be working.

This year, the festival celebrates its 20th anniversary with five days of films and parties, held Sept 28.-Oct. 2 at various venues in and near downtown Wichita. Locations include the Orpheum Theater, Exploration Place, Regal Old Town, Scottish Rite Center, Advanced Learning Library and Tallgrass Film Center. 

Tallgrass 2022 will screen 248 independent films from around the world. Categories include Kansas Filmmakers, Female Directors, Social Justice, LGBTQ and Black Filmmakers (with the Gordon Parks Award sponsored by Cargill). Filmmakers and actors in attendance will give audiences the opportunity to hear about film production during question-and-answer sessions following many of the films.

Here are a few highlights I’m looking forward to:

Anyone remember The Embarrassment? They were a musical quartet active in\Wichita from 1979 to 1983 who nearly hit the big time. A documentary about them, We Were Famous, You Don’t Remember: The Embarrassment, will make its world premiere at the Orpheum. An after-party includes a reunion concert with original band members.

Like horror flicks? Lloyd Kaufman’s cult classic The Toxic Avenger and PoultryGeist: Night of the Chicken Dead will be shown along with his latest film, a musical parody of The Tempest. Kaufman will be in attendance as this year’s recipient of the festival’s Ad Astra Award.

How about cinema shorts? There will be shorts in comedy, drama, horror, identity, animation, music, dance and just about any other genre you can name.

Did you or your children watch Reading Rainbow in the 1980s and 90s?  You won’t want to miss the documentary, Butterfly in the Sky, about the making of this classic children’s show.  

And who doesn’t remember the movie Working 9 to 5? The documentary Still Working 9 to 5 examines the cultural impact of the film and the important impact it had on the women’s movement over the 40 years since its release.

These are just a few of the great offerings at the Tallgrass 20th Annual Film Festival.  Don’t miss your opportunity to binge on films, mingle with filmmakers and party with your fellow Wichita film buffs. 

To see the schedule of films and events, purchase tickets or get more information, visit tallgrassfilm.org.

Janice Van Sickle has served on the board of the Tallgrass Film Festival for six years and is currently its president.