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Tallgrass Film Fest 2008

  • So, the Tallgrass Film Festival in my hometown of Wichita, Kansas rolled around again this year.  While I chose not to attend as anything more than a filmmaker this year, I realized that I missed the challenges and drama of producing a top-notch film festival.  Yes, I worked for the festival for five years -- since the first day of year one, even.  Back when I was a scrawny, no-talent 17-year-old who thought he had balls like an elephant.  But, I'll tell that story later if there is enough interest generated.

    Anyway, the hi-lights this year were plenty.

    First, our big special guests were Marianna Palka and Jason Ritter.  I don't know how many people know Jason, but if you have seen "W." he plays the smart Bush, Jeb Bush, the SUCCESSFUL Governor Bush.  Anyway, he had TWO movies playing the festival.

    First, was "Good Dick."  Jason plays a video store clerk who falls for the crazy girl played by director Marianna Palka.  They met while attending the Atlantic Theatre Actor Development program in New York.  I would sell "GD" as "The sexiest movie of the year...where nobody gets laid!"  If you enjoy indie style, this movie is the odd lovechild of Seth Rogen and the Coen Bros.  Very enjoyable, but don't be so gullible.  If you are in Los Angeles or New York, I highly recommend that you get your butt in a seat and check it out.

    Second was "The Deal."  Co-produced by a good friend of mine, this is a story about a down-on-his-luck producer, played by William H. Macy, who decides to turn the beautiful period piece about Benjamin Disraeli his nephew (Jason Ritter) has created into a mega-action blockbuster about a black Jewish freedom fighter, with the help of LL Cool J, Elliott Gould, and Meg Ryan.  Highly enjoyable.

    Other than the fact that Jason is just a really cool guy, he's a very good actor as well.  I'm excited to see what he comes up with next.  I would enjoy working with him some time.

    Other coolest movie of the festival?  A low-down-dirty-budget punk-rock movie, somewhere between "SLC Punk" and a John Waters flick, "Who Is KK Downey?" is THE import of the year!  When a failing writer and his failing rocker best friend create the voice of a generation, who is really getting fooled?  Set to an awesome soundtrack, filmed in the underground of Montreal, Canada, this movie is like heavy drugs -- awesome if you can keep your stomach from churning!

    I had the opportunity to hang out with the producer on this film, Paul.  Paul is awesome.  He rode around with me in my crappy Jeep all day, checked out my documentary, grabbed food, went drinking.  The first night I met him was after his movie played the Special Midnight Show.  We ended up back at the festival office drinking and hanging out until almost four in the morning.  I still keep in touch, and if he ever has a project during the summer up there, I'm totally there.  I speak French, right?

    Anyway, these are just parts of the fun stories of this year's Tallgrass Film Fest.  Found in the middle of fly-over country, I recommend you fly through next October.  You never know who's gonna show up, who you'll run into, or what's gonna happen -- like Jason's first s'more!


    -T