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Your First Look at Tallgrass 2020 Virtual edition

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Tallgrass is proud to unveil the first look at this year’s festival line-up, taking place virtually October 16-25, 2020, presented by Consolidated Equities Trust.

The 18th Annual Tallgrass Film Festival takes place virtually this year, streaming through Cinesend at watch.tallgrassfilm.org. More titles and events to be announced ahead of the festival, including our opening night gala, award winners, shorts programs, panels, education, and more.

A message on the program from Director of Programming, Nick Pope:

“This year’s film festival may not be what any of us expected, however the program of films is as timely and diverse as our audience has come to expect after 18 years. And if anyone has yet to dip their toe into the Tallgrass waters, the convenience of the festival from home is a great place to start. With a special emphasis on documentaries and world cinema, this year’s movies present a huge array of topics and subjects: journalism, football, autism, coming out, jazz, women kicking ass, art, memes, war veterans, punk rock, grifters, aliens, and many other unique snapshots of history and the present. We say it every year, but it’s true as ever: there are movies for everyone. While we may be relegated to our living rooms, we can still immerse ourselves in the art and find refuge in escapism for a few hours each day. Don’t let these films be used as background filler or while standing by for whatever else 2020 might have in store. There are countless stories happening beyond our walls and beyond our community that will bring joy, hope, laughter and thoughtfulness in a time that we need it most.”

See the first round of features announced below.

9/11 Kids

World Documentary Feature

Director: Elizabeth St. Philip | Canada | 2020 | 1 hr 28 min

On the morning of September 11, as a plane hit the second tower of the World Trade Center, US president George W. Bush was reading a story to a classroom of second-graders at Emma E. Booker Elementary School in Sarasota, Florida. For the 16 kids and their teacher, this iconic moment in American history is forever etched in their minds.


A New York Christmas Wedding 

Domestic Narrative Feature

Director: Otoja Abit | USA | 2020 | 1 hr 30 min

Torn between a lost love and her soon to be husband, a woman embarks on an unexpected journey through time to reconnect with herself and her heart.


Asking For It 

Domestic Narrative Feature

Director: Amanda Lundquist, Becky Scott | USA | 2020 | 1 hr 23 min

A journalist takes justice into her own hands when her internet stalker walks free from the law.


Bastards’ Road

Domestic Documentary Feature

Director: Brian Morrison | USA | 2020 | 1 hr 33 min

War veteran Jon Hancock wrestles with his demons while walking 5,800 miles across the United States.


Billie

Domestic Documentary Feature

Director: James Erskine  USA | 2019 | 1 hr 36 min

In 1971, journalist Linda Lipnack Kuehl set out to write the definitive biography of Billie Holiday. Over 8 years, she tracked down and tape-recorded over 200 hours of interviews with the extraordinary characters that populated the iconic singer’s short, tumultuous life. However, Linda’s book was never finished and the tapes never heard — until now.


Collective

World Documentary Feature

Romanian with English Subtitles

Director: Alexander Nanau| Romania | 2019 | 1 hr 49 min

The film follows an investigation by journalists of the newspaper Gazeta Sporturilor into healthcare corruption in the wake of the Colectiv nightclub fire


Don’t Date Your Sister (World Premiere)

Domestic Narrative Feature

Director: Nick Catanese| USA | 2020 | 1 hr 26 min

An outlandish, romantic comedy about a recent widower and the antics surrounding his attempts to end his son’s relationship, with whom he believes is with his long-lost daughter, due to a promise he made to his dying wife.


Donut Dollies

Domestic Documentary Feature

Director: Norm Anderson| USA | 2019 | 1 hr 28 min

The untold story, 50-years in the making, of the American women who volunteered to go to Vietnam on an impossible mission.  Sponsored by Martin Pringle Law.


Dramarama 

Domestic Narrative Feature

Director: Jonathan Wysocki | USA | 2020| 1 hr 31 min

 In 1994, a closeted teen struggles to part ways with his 4 high school drama friends at their final murder mystery party before they leave for college. 2020 Stubbornly Independent Award Finalist.


Feels Good Man

Domestic Documentary Feature

Director: Arthur Jones| USA | 2020 | 1 hr 33 min

When indie comic character Pepe the Frog becomes the unwitting icon of hate, his creator fights to bring Pepe back from the darkness.


Finding YingYing

Domestic Documentary Feature

Chinese and English

Director: Jiayan “Jenny” Shi| USA | 2020 | 1 hr 33 min

After a young Chinese student goes missing on a university campus, her family travels to the U.S. for the first time. While unraveling the mystery of her disappearance, they discover how much her life has touched others.

Itchy Fingers (World Premiere)

Domestic Narrative Feature

Director(s) by Anna Nilles, Marco Jake| USA | 2020| 1 hr 58 min

An aspiring teenage comedian joins a community theater and is cast to play a school shooter. 2020 Stubbornly Independent Award Finalist.


It Takes a Family

World Documentary Feature

Danish with English subtitles 

Director: Susanne Kovács | Denmark |2020| 1 hr

It Takes A Family is a family drama about secrets and repressed memories. Director, Susanne Kovacs, is the grandchild of Jewish Holocaust survivors and the daughter of a German mother and a Danish Jewish father. When Susanne is born, in the eyes of her grandparents she is a child of the enemy and a constant reminder of their tragic past. Years later, Susanne starts asking the difficult questions only to discover that the war never really ended in the tormented family; Somehow, the horrors of the past have always been present as a deafening yet unspoken trauma. 2020 DOXX Award Finalist.


Materna

Domestic Narrative Feature

Director: David Gutnik |USA|2020|1 hr 45 min

A closely observed psychological portrait of four women, whose lives are bound together by an incident on the New York City subway. 2020 Stubbornly Independent Award Finalist.

 


Narrowsburg

Domestic Documentary Feature

Director: Martha Shane | USA | 2020 | 1 hr 24 min
 
Narrowsburg  tells the story of a French film producer and a mafioso-turned-actor whose attempt to turn a tiny town into the “Sundance of the East.” Persuading the townspeople that they can be movie stars, the pair create a fever pitch of excitement, launching a film festival and shooting a gangster movie. As this stranger-than-fiction tale unspools, it becomes a meditation on the power of cinema and the fine line between dreams and delusions.
 

Never Too Late: The Doc Severinsen Story

Domestic Documentary Feature

Director: Kevin S. Bright, Jeff Consiglio |USA | 2020 | 1 hr 24 min
 
After three decades as the colorful bandleader to The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, master trumpeter Doc Severinsen defies nature with a relentless schedule of touring, teaching and performing into his nineties.
 

No Fear, No Favor
 
Domestic Documentary Feature
 
Director: Mirra Bank |USA| 2020|1hr 5 min

No Fear No Favor goes to the front lines of Africa’s poaching and extinction crisis with local people determined to protect threatened wildlife for future generations. 2020 DOXX Award Finalist.

Sponsored by Sedgwick County Zoo. 


Open Field

Domestic Documentary Feature

Director: Kathy Kuras |USA | 2020 | 1 hr 20 min
 
She plays by NFL rules in NFL stadiums. She wins world championships. She’s at the top of her game. What does she have to do to level the playing field?
 

Represent

Domestic Documentary Feature

Director: Hillary Bachelder | USA | 2020 | 1 hr 34 min
 
In the heart of the American Midwest, three women take on the status quo in campaigns that promise to reshape local politics on their own terms.
 

Rose Plays Julie

World Narrative Feature

Director: Christine Molloy, Joe Lawlor | Ireland | 2019 | 1 hr 40 min

An adopted girl who seeks out her birth mother only to be told her mother has no desire to meet her.


The Earth is Blue as an Orange

World Documentary Feature

Russian with English subtitles 

Director: Iryna Tsilyk | Ukraine | 2020| 1 hr 14 min

Single mother Anna and her four children live in the front-line war zone of Donbas, Ukraine. While the outside world is made up of bombings and chaos, the family is managing to keep their home a safe haven, full of life and full of light. Every member of the family has a passion for cinema, motivating them to shoot a film inspired by their own life during a time of war. The creative process raises the question of what kind of power the magical world of cinema could have during times of disaster. How to picture war through fiction? For Anna and the children, transforming trauma into a work of art is the ultimate way to stay human. 2020 DOXX Award Finalist


The Perfect Candidate

World Narrative Feature

Arabic with English Subtitles

Director: Haifaa al-Mansour | Saudi Arabia| 2019 | 1 hr 44 min

A Saudi woman is frustrated after being turned back at the airport because her travel permission from her male guardian is not up to date. She then embarks on an absurd campaign that juggles strict social norms, gender segregation and the influence of her eccentric family.


There is No Evil

World Documentary Feature

Persian with English Subtitles

Director: Mohammad Rasoulof | Iran| 2020 | 2 hr 30 min

The four stories that are variations on the crucial themes of moral strength and the death penalty that ask to what extent individual freedom can be expressed under a despotic regime and its seemingly inescapable threats.


The Reason I Jump

Domestic Documentary  Feature

Director: Jerry Rothwell | USA | 2020 | 1 hr 24 min

An immersive cinematic experience of nonspeaking autistic people across the world, The Reason I Jump is based on a book written by Naoki Higashida when he was just 13. The film follows a young Japanese boy on a journey through an epic landscape. As a maelstrom of thoughts, feelings, impulses, and memories affects his every action, he gradually discovers what his autism means to him, how his perception of the world differs from others’, and why he acts the way he does—the reason he jumps.


The State of Texas vs Melissa

Domestic Documentary Feature

Director: Sabrina Van Tassel| USA | 2020 | 1 hr 37 min

Set in the heart of the Latino community of South Texas, the compelling film explores the life and trials of Melissa Lucio, the first Hispanic woman in Texas sentenced to death row. The film takes a look at Lucio’s broken and abusive childhood and her adult life plagued by poverty and prejudice.

Thorp

Domestic Narrative Feature

Director: Dennis Donovan| USA | 2020 | 1 hr 37 min

After fleeing Earth in the 80s, an alien returns to his childhood home to find his best friend.

Thumbs Up for Mother Universe: Stories from the Life of Lonnie Holley

Domestic Documentary Feature

Director: George King| USA | 2020 | 1 hr 35 min

Filmed over 20 years, “Thumbs Up for Mother Universe!” tells Lonnie Holley’s story, revealing how one man’s instinct to create has enabled him to succeed against all odds – a journey from garbage dumps and prison camps to festival stages and The Met.

Transhood

Domestic Documentary Feature

Director: Sharon Liese| USA | 2020 | 1 hr 38 min

Four kids and their families unmask the intimate realities of how gender fluidity is reshaping the family next door, especially in America’s heartland.


Two of Us 

World Feature Narrative

French with English subtitles

Director: Filippo Meneghetti| France | 2019 | 1 hr 35 min

Pensioners Nina and Madeleine have hidden their deep and passionate love for many decades, but their bond is put to the test when they are suddenly unable to move freely between each other’s apartments.


Uncle Peckerhead

Domestic Narrative Feature

Director: Matt Lawrence| USA | 2020 | 1 hr 37 min

When a punk band scores their first tour, life on the road proves tough when they are joined by a man-eating demon as a roadie.


Vinyl Nation

Domestic Documentary Feature

Director(s): Christoper Boone, Kevin Smokler| USA | 2020 | 1 hr 38 min

Vinyl Nation digs into the crates of the record resurgence in search of truths set in deep wax: Has the return of vinyl made music fandom more inclusive or divided? What does vinyl say about our past here in the present? How has the second life of vinyl changed how we hear music and how we listen to each other? Sponsored by McClelland Sound.


White Riot

Domestic Documentary Feature

Director: Rubika Shah| USA | 2019 | 1 hr 24 min

An energizing film telling the story of a vital national protest movement – Rock Against Racism, formed in 1976 when a group of artists united to take on the National Front. Sponsored by Hinkle Law. 


Win, Lose or Draw Straws

Domestic Documentary Feature

Director: Casey Phillips| USA | 2020 | 1 hr 23 min

Set against the looming and presumably competitive and divisive 2020 US Presidential Election. Win, Lose or Draw Straws is a feature-length documentary exploring one particular oddity of the US election system that is the existence of and wildly varied ways of determining election contests that end in perfect ties. Told by the people who experienced the emotional highs and lows of a political campaign that was determined by a game of chance.  Sponsored by The League of Women Voters.

 

 

The 18th Annual Tallgrass Film Festival takes place virtually this year, streaming through Cinesend at watch.tallgrassfilm.org. More titles and events to be announced ahead of the festival, including opening night, panels, education, and more. 

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Chatelin Bruno
(Filmfestivals.com)

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