Thursday, October 16, 2014

Tallgrass Film Festival, 2014, Arts on the Plains
Over the last 4 or 5 years I have had the honor of covering The Tallgrass Film Festival in Wichita Kansas. It is according to some, one of the top 10 film festivals in the country and some say one of the top 2 or 3 in the Midwest. Let me tell you from personal experience, as both a reporter and filmmaker who has attended and had films shown at Film Festivals, from North Carolina to California; Tallgrass is at the top on my list of festivals I have attended as both a reporter and more importantly, a filmmaker. To put it bluntly Tallgrass has a volunteer organization that is among the top in the country with over 200 volunteers and a Board of Directors and Executive Director that are also among the tops, bar none.  They are not only good at what they do, they are passionately in love with film. What they have done in my opinion is nothing short of miraculous. This year Tallgrass which runs from October 15 - October 19, has partnered with Vimeo and numerous other sponsors and had submissions go from around 600 last year to over 1,200 this year. They have over 200 films showing this year and each year during October Tallgrass brings to Wichita one of Kansas premiere events. 

Last nigh as I watched Life Itself, the documentary about Roger Ebert, I was reminded of the blessings I have as a film reviewer and filmmaker to be able to take part, once again, with this terrific festival, this year as a reviewer of film. I was reminded by a movie about the life of Roger Ebert as to the role of film, especially independent film. A Concept Tallgrass uses in its press, "Stubbornly Independent," gives credence to the support this terrific festival gives the independent filmmaker, offering not just accommodations and support for those coming from out of town but also classes on making and understanding film for the attendees to the festival. It also says something about a mid sized Midwestern Plains town and their respect for film. Wichita has among the top theaters in the country, including a weekly top 5 grossing theater with one of the largest IMAX screens in the world and a blossoming arts community that continues to grow despite idiotic cuts in funding to the Arts by those in our political system.  A confusing cut this reviewer and fan of film hasn't forgotten about that had the arts bringing in additional revenues to Kansas above and beyond the financial support. In other words, the arts in Kansas didn't just use tax revenues for support, they returned what was given and then more for a profit. Wichita is a community which clearly loves film, and comes out in groves to support film. Film by independent filmmakers is something Roger Ebert supported throughout his career and the recognition of that last night with a large crowd of supporters on hand, along with the Producer of the film Life Itself, Zak Piper was a reminder of that support. Not to mention a packed house at the Old Depot in Wichita for the after party Gala.
Today I am ready to get busy to check out 3 more films, Down and Dirty the documentary feature about Johnny Winter, Fight Church a documentary about churches using MMA to promote the Gospel and Mad as Hell a documentary regarding Cenk Uygur a controversial talk radio show host who had his hands tied once moving to MSNBC for a television program. There is one thing I know for certain, there is no way I will be able to see all 200+ films but I will do my best to see what I can. An opportunity on the Plains of Kansas where I am honored to check out and report on the movies. Roger Ebert inspired me in that regards, I love what I do and I  have to give thanks to all of those wonderful people behind the festival that have blessed me and literally, thousands of others through this incredible, blessed event called Tallgrass.

To see Rod Pocowatchit take on the following video, just click on the video, if the vid doesn't work, click on the following link:

Photos from the opening night at The Orpheum

The Virtual Pew and our other work is supported solely by the kind contributions of others. You can click on the donate button below to give any amount to this work that does so much more than just post articles on the net; I draw no ongoing salary from the church I pastor, Mosaic Wichita which is predominantly a homeless church; I am grateful for any small amount you can contribute to help with this ministry.  Believe me there is much more going on than most realize. I will also provide information to verify the ministry and income that comes into this ministry and work.  Thanks and feel free to share any material from The Virtual Pew, I only ask that appropriate credit is given and a link to the original site with the materials provided.

Click here to read about, and order the book, The Keystone Kid!store
Click here to visit the web page The Virtual Pew

Click here to follow The Virtual Pew on Twitter

Mike Furches on Faceboook.

Click here to visit Mosaic Church where Mike is Pastor

The Keystone Kid/Virtual Pew Message Boards

Click to subscribe to my blog

There are hundreds of postings so make sure to check out the archives. You can also contact me for a free audio book link of The Keystone Kid at You can visit

Hopefully you will consider a gift to The Virtual Pew.

Now I get asked this quite often, Can we repost your blogs or articles? The short answer to that is, what an honor that you would ask, and by all means, spread the word. Here is our contact information

The Virtual Pew
1249 N. St. Francis
Wichita Kansas, 67214

Click on the following links to learn more about The Virtual Pew

Donations to The Virtual Pew

The Virtual Pew Blog

Personal Furches Web Site

Hollywood Jesus

Reviews With Mike

The Virtual Pew Sermons

No comments: