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Straight From the Mouths of Filmmakers

What They're Saying About the 13th annual Tallgrass Film Festival

"I was so thrilled to attend Tallgrass's Film Festival as the Stubbornly Independent Award winner for my film A LIGHT BENEATH THEIR FEET.  Where else do they honor you with your very own director trading card, walk of fame star, brilliant cash prizes and screenings, and a world-class pajama party with the most amazing home-cooked food served till all hours of the night? This festival loves its filmmakers and we feel the same way!" - Valerie Weiss, Director, A LIGHT BENEATH THEIR FEET

"As a filmmaker, I can't think of any greater reward than screening a labor of love at a great theater like the Orpheum, in front of a incredible audience made up of a film loving community and fellow filmmakers, cultivated by the incredible hard and passionate work of a great team that give you a festival experience unlike any other. I've been there twice, and I want to go back again tomorrow!" - David Spaltro, Director, IN THE DARK

"I've attended a dozen film festivals this year, many in bigger cities and surely with bigger budgets and more corporate sponsorship. But Tallgrass was one of the more welcoming and filmmaker-friendly festivals I've attended.  It's all in the small touches — the fantastic swag gym bag, the Nuway Crumbly Burgers, the intimate setting that allowed me to interact with fellow filmmakers. The Q&A at my screening, in particular, was the most engaging conversation I've had with an audience all year. But perhaps the best (and most original) touch was seeing my name on the "Walk of Fame" along 1st Ave. That probably got more likes on my Instagram and Facebook feed than any other film festival photo I've posted all year! So kudos to all. Tallgrass might not be the biggest fest, but it's scrappy and warm and inventive ... and most of all, a heck of a lot of fun. I'll be recommending my fellow filmmakers to apply for future editions." - Kevin Pang, Co-Director, FOR GRACE

"Tallgrass is truly one of the most filmmaker friendly festivals I've ever attended. And to receive the Outstanding Female Director and Audience Award is just the cherry on top of an already amazing weekend in Wichita. I am so appreciative of the cash prize from Vimeo as this will go towards some of the costs related to our general release next year, so that we can bring the film to a even bigger audience! - Emily Ting, Director, ALREADY TOMORROW IN HONG KONG

"We're so very honored to have been a part of this years festival. Tallgrass is our favorite film festival. Great films, great audiences, and amazing panels and parties. It's an annual event not to be missed by filmmakers or film lovers!” Ian Nelms & Eshom Nelms, Directors, WAFFLE STREET

"Thank you, thank you, thank you!! I had a blast at Tallgrass this year, and was so impressed with the quality of the festival and the lineup of films presented.  I was especially pleased with the screening of my film, both with the venue and the staff organizing the presentation, and felt like I was in great hands.  I grew up in Wichita, so its been on my bucket list to be a part of Tallgrass ever since becoming a filmmaker, and I was honored to at last be a part of it this year with my short film.  Tallgrass is now double underlined on my list of must-go film festivals." - Douglas McGinness, Director, THE EPIC OF HERSHEY

"Even though I had been prepped to enjoy Tallgrass, I was pleasantly surprised at every turn.  First off, it was so incredibly well organized and staffed universally with cheerful, knowledgable, diligent, eager, thoughtful and all around lovely people whether at one of the fantastic soirées, chauferring us around to events, moderating one of the many filmmaker panels or talkbacks, or just helping at the centrally located VIP filmmakers lounge at the Lux.  There was a diverse selection of films and a wide range of interesting filmmakers who I was not only able to meet at one of the many events, but got a chance to connect with.  I also appreciated the opportunity to meet many of the locals who are so supportive of the festival at both The Wichita Art Museum and The Botanica Gardens.  I couldn't have had a better time or felt more valued. You knocked it out of the park, Tallgrass!" - Catherine Cobb Ryan, Actor, IN THE DARK

"I had an incredible experience at Tallgrass and thank you so much for recognizing our film.  Every award and accolade helps and we made this movie to raise awareness and most of all money for the children of Omo Child.  Every cent made from this film will be donated to Omo Child and every festival, award, and audience helps us reach our goal. Tallgrass Film Festival is without a doubt one of the most exciting festivals I've been to this year. We have been accepted into 34 film festivals so far in 2015 and the passion and energy in Wichita for independent film is unmatched! - Sebastian Humphreys, Cinematographer, OMO CHILD: THE RIVER AND THE BUSH

"From arriving at the airport, to being returned to the airport, there wasn't a moment at Tallgrass when I didn't feel wholly, and completely loved and appreciated. The dedication of the staff to not only treat filmmakers with the utmost respect, but to make sure we have a heck of a good time, was unparalleled. I will do everything in my power to keep creating and submitting films, if only just to have a chance to rub shoulders with the delightful locals and fellow filmmakers again in Wichita year after year. Thank you Tallgrass, for setting the gold standard in festival hospitality." - Justin Johnson, Director, DOUBLE DIGITS: THE STORY OF A NEIGHBORHOOD MOVIE STAR

"Tallgrass takes the expression filmmaker friendly to the next level.  They have daily (and nightly) networking opportunities, are extremely well organized, and super fun to hang out with.  I'd highly recommend them to anyone interested in a great festival experience." - Jordan Horowitz, Co-Director, ANGEL OF NANJING

"I just wanted to say I had a great time at Tallgrass. I’ve had an excellent overall experience as a filmmaker, starting with the communication leading up to the festival, the hospitality, the staff that I met, the audience, the amazing screening venues. You feel there’s already a tradition there. Considering it’s size and location it’s super professional and focused on the films, the filmmakers and the audience. That’s what it’s about and that makes for a fantastic atmosphere. Tallgrass really deserves to be listed as one of the coolest festivals (Moviemaker)." - Moritz Rechenberg, Director, I AM GANGSTER

"It was such an honor to open Tallgrass! You were all incredible hosts and it is a fest I have been recommending and talking up at all of our other festival stops! I look forward to the next chance I get to attend!" - Adam Nee, Co-Director/Star, BAND OF ROBBERS

What They're Saying About the 12th annual Tallgrass Film Festival

"This is an example of "doing it right". I was fortunate enough to experience the Tallgrass Film Festival this year because Nick Pope heard about THE LADIES OF THE HOUSE and reached out to me to see if he could take a look at it. That is Exhibit A of being a great programmer. Not just settling for what lands on your desk but actively looking for the stuff that hasn't done so. And by programming LADIES and the film WETLANDS, he and Tallgrass also showed me that they were ready to challenge the Wichita audiences and deliver a full compliment of crowdpleasers, foreign fare, smart docs, as well as....some "out there" films too...I will never be shy to brag on Tallgrass Film Festival and tell every filmmaker I know that they should do their best to aim for a spot in their lineup!" - John Wildman, Director, THE LADIES OF THE HOUSE

What can we say about the Tallgrass Film Festival? Truly an outstanding experience! The attending filmmakers, the enthusiastic audiences, the incredible staff and volunteers, the venues, the parties...traveling from Ireland to screen our short THE STRUGGLE OF LIBATIONS at Tallgrass was beyond worth it and then some. We made lifelong friends over the course of the festival and we can’t wait to return…" - Erin Mullally, Writer/Director, THE STRUGGLE OF LIBATIONS

"Tallgrass... I can only echo that you by far treat the filmmakers the best. You are a top notch film festival. Sincere thanks to you all...See you next year..." - Andrew Napier, Director, MAD AS HELL, Editor, BEFORE I DISAPPEAR

"...I have to jump in and throw some love on the table. We had three of our biggest wins at Tallgrass. We showed to our biggest audience, we got to meet really cool filmmakers (my producer John Snyder and John Diaz are hanging out as I write this), and we got a distribution offer. I look forward to coming back any time, because in addition to all that Tallgrass was also the most fun I had at any festival I've been to." - Jack Bryan, Director, THE LIVING

"We want to thank Tallgrass for inviting GONE DOGGY GONE to play at the gorgeous Orpheum Theater. From the moment we were accepted, to our arrival in Wichita we were treated with such hospitality, we felt all the horrors and worries of the past 2 years of indie filmmaking melt away. Lela, Nick, Gretchen, Arietta and all of the volunteers went out of their way to make sure we found ourselves in an environment conducive to making important connections and forging relationships with other great filmmakers. From the Royal filmmakers lounge (Catered Meals and Massages? What?!) to the effort they put into setting up Press Interviews, they are First Class all the way.” We are scrambling to direct another feature so we can come back! Thanks so much for having us and we can’t WAIT to see all of you again!” -Kasi Brown & Brandon Walter (writers/directors) GONE DOGGY GONE

"It's not often that you find a festival that does it ALL right. From the moment I arrived at the airport and was greeted by a cheerful Tallgrass volunteer, I knew this was going to be a good festival. At every turn, I was embraced with warm, Kansas-style hospitality. I've been to hundreds of festivals and I can tell that you work very hard to make Tallgrass a success and that you are very proud if it...and you should be! It's fabulous!! There are many fine things I could say, but I'll just mention this one...salad bar in the VIP room!! Say what?!! Sundance has nothin' on that! I'm honored that both FIGHT CHURCH and LITTLE HOPE WAS ARSON were a part of this year's Tallgrass FF, and I hope to bring many more films back to Wichita in the coming years. Thanks again for a fantastic festival." - Bryan Storkel, Director, FIGHT CHURCH, Producer, LITTLE HOPE WAS ARSON

"I just came back from the Tallgrass Film Fest in Kansas where I showed my film Self Medicated: a film about art. The festival was well organized, showed terrific films, and had venues that any filmmaker would dream of—classic Victorian theaters. Hell, my film played in the Wichita Museum of Art. You know I will brag about that...I always talk to the festival staff, volunteers, and patrons. Just about all of them had been doing this for several years, some of them since the beginning. I don't think they understand how special that is. Most festivals I have been to are one and done. These are people who truly love the event, the films, and are interested in meeting the filmmakers. To sum it up, this is more than a film fest—they have built a family and once you have been invited, you are a part of that family. - Ethan Minsker, Director, SELF MEDICATED: A FILM ABOUT ART

"Sun Belt opened at a handful of festivals that weekend so our team had to divvy them up amongst ourselves, and I was so excited I got to come back to Kansas for Tallgrass.  But the truth is, as excited as I was, I had no idea that I was going to end up getting the best experience, by far, of anyone on the team. The way you guys treat your filmmakers is unbelievable.  From the amazing hotel, to the kick-ass parties... I was floored. And on top of that, the fact that you found individual sponsors for our film who could come out and promote the cause of justice in our immigration policy...  that level of commitment to your films is truly exceptional.  I am a HUGE FAN, and I hope to bring my next film there (as soon as I shoot it). Thank you so much for the incredible time guys." - Chance Mullen, Screenwriter, SUN BELT EXPRESS

"Thank you so much for inviting BRAVE NEW WILD to play in the heart of Wichita.  I feel so fortunate to have been able to come to present the film to a great audience and experience Tallgrass. You guys are doing a fantastic job and Oakley & I hope to bring more films to the fest in the future!" - Alex Reinhard, Producer, BRAVE NEW WILD

"I want to thank you for what is the best film festival experience I have had so far. From my acceptance from Nick, my communications with Arietta, the care with which Gretchen made sure everything was ready for my screenings and the fact that every volunteer there seemed ready and willing to help with anything at a moment's notice - I could not have dreamed of a more organized, welcoming team. One of the best things about your festival is that I was encouraged to meet and chat with other independent filmmakers - all of who understood the same things that I was going through and how difficult it was for truly independent films in today's world. Through the invaluable round table discussions we were able to share filmmaker experiences and creative solutions to getting our work out there and actually chat with distributors. I felt all the filmmakers here were on the same page - we were all "stubbornly independent". What you do really does make a difference. I am deeply touched. Thank you for the honor and for letting me be a part of it!" - Don Scimé, Writer/Actor, THE DAVID DANCE

"I just wanted to thank you for such a great festival.  I had a great time at Tallgrass last week and it was such a privilege to screen my movie at the Orpheum.  You guys put so much work into it and it really showed.  I have never felt more welcomed or taken care of at a film festival in my life.  I really appreciate everything you guys did.  Thank you for including my film and I hope I can be a part of the festival again in the future." - Anthony Grippa, Director, HALF BROTHER

"Just wanted to express my gratitude for the top notch hospitality last weekend.  Even before the awards announcement, I was blown away by all that you do for filmmakers and in such an organized manner!  Please extend my thanks to the awesome hospitality team.  I hope to return to Wichita one day." - Mae Hoang, Assoc. Producer,  MAN FROM RENO

What They're Saying About the 11th annual Tallgrass Film Festival

"I have to recommend that all filmmakers on the festival circuit run, don't walk, to submit a film to Tallgrass. The staff at the Tallgrass Film Festival  is not only kind and welcoming to filmakers, but also extremely well organized and efficient with each presentations. And what a surprise and delight to have a film screened in Wichita, where the Festival crew is tight with the creative community at large, and connects with a population that is both knowledgeable and passionate about film. I've shown my films in many places, but screening with Tallgrass was the most fun and rewarding experience I've ever had."- Kerry Candaele, Director, FOLLOWING THE NINTH: IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF BEETHOVEN'S FINAL SYMPHONY

"I wanted to write you a note to say THANK YOU one last time for your incredible hospitality at the Tallgrass Film Festival this weekend. I had an amazing time and met so many wonderful filmmakers and saw some incredible films that I hadn't been able to see anywhere else. I've heard from a few of the friends that I made that collaborations are already brewing, and we all agree that Tallgrass is one of our favorite film festivals that we have been to throughout the whole festival circuit, which I think is due in large part to your hard work and incredible hosting of all of us filmmakers. It made the experience very special and really helped us to bond."  – Merete Meuller, Director TINY

"Tallgrass Film Festival was a remarkable experience from beginning to end. A diverse program of excellent films, a weekend of kick-ass parties, deeply engaged audiences and humbling Kansan hospitality all combines to make it one of the best experiences I've had a festival. Can't recommend it enough!" – Sarah Stuteville, Producer, BARZAN

"Thank you, thank you, thank you for hosting Forev at this year's fest! Not only was participating in Tallgrass a total blast, it was a genuinely rewarding experience from beginning to end. Y'all know how to do it right, putting on one hell of a festival with the most welcoming and passionate people.  The movies were great, the events were planned so well, and those old theaters are intimidatingly beautiful, but more than anything we appreciate the atmosphere you guys created. Everything felt completely organized but relaxed at the same time, and we got the feeling that the whole city was happy to have us. We'll keep you posted on Forev news, for sure -- we need to make another movie just to get back there." – James Leffler, Co-Director FOREV

"This 'small' festival is the most exquisite I've attended: the quality of the films chosen; the warmth and depth of the genuine hospitality we experienced; and the passion of the organizers and their team was stunning. Thank you TALLGRASS !!!!" – Paul Saltzman, Director, THE LAST WHITE KNIGHT

"Just wanted to say thanks again for making Far Out the closing night Gala film. The film has been on a wild ride the last 13 months but ending our festival and theatrical run in Wichita will forever be special." – Brad Bernstein, Director, FAR OUT ISN’T FAR ENOUGH

"I can't express how great it was to come to Tallgrass, thank you so much for the opportunity.  I had an absolute blast getting to know you and the rest of the Tallgrass community, meeting some Wichitans, and connecting with the other filmmakers who were invited.  I've already been spreading the word around Toronto about what a great festival you're putting on down there...And I loved your programming, every single movie I saw was fantastic (Blackfish, God Loves Uganda, I Am Divine, Worm, Pulp Fiction and Airplane!).  The 35mm movies were especially wonderful to see, and The Orpheum is an incredible venue. – Jason Lapeyre, Director, I DECLARE WAR

"I just want to let you know what a fantastic experience Tallgrass was,and to thank you all for your hospitality and professionalism.  You guys really know how to do it! It was such an honor to have Doris screen at the opening gala and as she continues her festival run I will be singing the praises of Tallgrass and its friendly and welcoming team of staff and volunteers with other filmmakers along the way." – Matthew Pond, THE LIFE AND CRIMES OF DORIS PAYNE

"In short, my experience at Tallgrass was really quite unique and distinctive from several other festivals I have attended as both a filmmaker with a film screening and as an industry rep or audience member. There's a connectivity between filmmaker, community and audience forged over those fest days that is at once very genuine, enthusiastic and well coordinated. It is not just a film festival. It is a way of seeing the world. Everything from a schedule that embraces arts advocacy and spotlights arts education  and creativity, to the gatherings we enjoyed carefully crafted with such style and ingenuity, was  incredibly cool and life affirming. I am not sure where else I will be lucky enough to experience such collaboration and enthusiasm shared among filmmakers, filmgoers and arts supporters for what you are doing at Tallgrass. I think you have definitely lived more than lived up to the tagline "stubbornly independent" and in my mind now, Tallgrass is a brand that means the art of filmmaking (and celebrating films) has found a vital ally in America's heartland." – Karen Whitehead, Director, HER AIM IS TRUE

“The experiences I've shared at Tallgrass created some of the best memories of any film festival I've attended... The staff, hospitality and filmmakers they invited were outstanding. As a Wichita native and long-time fan of the festival, many of my friends and family have moved out of town over the years, but Tallgrass and the community of artists it has supported will continue to be a reason to visit home.” – Danny Roew, Director, SHOTGUN WEDDING

"I can't tell you how nice it was to be at Tallgrass. From the great screening set ups, to the fantastic staff and volunteers, to the rockin Filmmaker lounge (that DJ was amazing.) it was such a friendly fun environment, we didn't want to leave." - Amy Nicholson, Director, ZIPPER: CONEY ISLAND'S LAST WILD RIDE

"I just wanted to say thanks again for having me down this year, it really was such a blast.  I got to see four films, which can be tough when trying to get to all your own screenings, but it worked out really well.  Made some great friends (I'm actually getting together with Amy Nicholson of Zipper tonight and going to a screening in Brooklyn, and seeing Blayne Weaver next week to catch Favor again, right down the street from where I live!).  It was so nice to meet everyone, what a warm and enjoyable welcome you gave us all.  I'll definitely be submitting  films to the festival next year." - Sean Lyness, Assistant Editor, GOD LOVES UGANDA

"As a native of Wichita and current resident of Los Angeles, I was honored to be a part of Tallgrass. This festival made it easy to be proud of my home town! They successfully placed fine cuisine, Midwest charm, impeccable talent and film advocates under one roof. And the VIP lounge ... five stars. Seriously. Don't miss out on the chance to meet great people, eat amazing food and watch brilliant films from around the world. You won't regret it." - Krysta Masciale, Big Deal Branding

What They're Saying About the 10th annual Tallgrass Film Festival

“It was an honor and a pleasure to exhibit Year of the Living Dead at the 2012 Tallgrass Film Festival. We deeply appreciated the Wichita community's enthusiastic response to our film. We were also impressed by the artistic quality of all of Tallgrass's film selections and we loved the venues where the screenings took place. Thank you for an amazing festival experience!” – Esther Cassidy, Producer, BIRTH OF THE LIVING DEAD

"The Tallgrass Film Festival is on a whole other level. From the amount of detail they put into their film selections, to getting the community to come out in droves to the screenings and parties, the festival staff and volunteers are experts at what they do. As a filmmaker, I couldn't feel like I was in better hands, it was a true celebration of independent films." – Cassie Jaye, Director, RIGHT TO LOVE: AN AMERICAN FAMILY

“The programming, venues and hospitality are top notch and the audiences are hungry for independent films. We were overwhelmed by the reception of our film and the crowds were swarming at every screening. With such a strong community I imagine Tallgrass will grow exponentially every year and I am excited to follow its growth.” – Ken J. Adachi, Director, DEAD DAD

"We had our world premiere for "Year of the Living Dead" at the Tallgrass Film Festival and had a wonderful experience.  I was hugely impressed by the programmers and staff for the care, passion and smarts they put into their festival.  It's clearly their love of movies that fuels this passion. As a filmmaker, I really appreciated this.  Thank you, Tallgrass!  I hope to come back soon! - Rob Kuhns, Producer/Director/Editor, BIRTH OF THE LIVING DEAD

"Tallgrass Film Festival was amazing. It is evident the organizers and volunteers truly love film and do everything in their power to make the screenings wonderful experiences and roll out the "green" carpets for visiting filmmakers! But my favorite thing? The Wichita audience. It was an honor and I'm definitely coming back." - Alonso Mayo - Writer/Director, THE STORY OF LUKE

"I love Tallgrass and want an excuse to be there every year...so I will keep making films, I guess…Tallgrass is one of my favorite film festivals. It's so rare to get a festival that is so supportive and that brings together an entire community. Great screenings, supportive audiences, wonderful parties, the best people and the sense that the whole city of Wichita is a part of the festival.” – Ishai Setton, Director, THE KITCHEN

"I have screened my Documentary, THE WRECKING CREW, in over 50 festivals around the world; from SXSW to Barcelona, Spain.  In my heart, pound for pound, The Tallgrass Film Festival blows so many other festivals away.  In some festivals, the festival is the 'star' and the egos go with it.  But in Tallgrass, they make every filmmaker feel special no matter how big or small their films are".  Do not underestimate the power of Tallgrass"  - Denny Tedesco, Director, THE WRECKING CREW

"Tallgrass is an extremely well-organized festival and a total-blast to attend. The programming was awesome, and I was able meet a bunch of talented filmmakers." - Lee Gillentine, Producer, THINGS I DON'T UNDERSTAND

"What an absolute pleasure to attend the Tallgrass Film Festival. Lela and her incredible staff and volunteers exude a dedication and enthusiasm that is warm and welcoming to both visiting filmmakers and the local community. Attending filmmakers are well-rewarded with a bountiful experience as well the opportunity to engage with a vibrant, thoughtful, supportive community. Thank you for the generosity and care you all put in to creating a great experience for your filmmakers!" - Stephanie Riggs, Director, THE STANDBYS

"The Tallgrass Film Festival was a fantastic venue for premiering our feature documentary, PABLO.  From the moment we arrived we were embraced by the festival organizers and the entire film-loving community in Wichita.  I hope to bring my next film back to this wonderful and vibrant festival!" - Jeremy Goldscheider, Producer, PABLO

"You can go to Sundance, but they don't have loose meat sandwiches.  You can go to Toronto, but there's no crock pot full of artichoke dip when you get there.  Does Cannes have maple-bacon donuts?  Forget it.  SXSW has beer, but you have to stand on line with a bunch of musicians to get one.  All in all, Tallgrass has the best films of the year, not to mention the warmest people and the greatest audiences.  And sweet, sweet Wichita.   If I ever have the energy to make another movie, I hope they invite me back." - Stephen Kessler, Director, PAUL WILLIAMS STILL ALIVE


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