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Coming next week, the best part of fall

Everyone’s favorite part of the year is coming up next week… by which I mean pledge drive, of course! But also, it’s the Tallgrass Film Festival, which, if you can believe it, is celebrating its 20th year.

The festival’s opening night gala on Thursday, the 29th, is a movie called Four Samosas, which I’ve seen more than a couple people mention as being reminiscent of Wes Anderson’s debut film, Bottle Rocket. I have no idea yet whether it merits this comparison, but if it’s even 70 percent of the way there, it’s going to be a treat. The next night we’ll get to see a new documentary about the famed Wichita band The Embarrassment, and on Saturday, October 1st, the festival will be honoring the man behind the many decades of Troma films, Lloyd Kaufman, a filmmaker who very aggressively embodies Tallgrass’ “Stubbornly Independent” ethos.

Those are some of the headline attractions for the festival, but I’m actually pretty interested in some of the other films and programs they’ve got this year. One of those is their new “Murmurations” program, which only has two features and a couple of shorts this year but I imagine will expand in the future. It’s been created in connection with WSU’s Ulrich Museum of Art in order to highlight films from Spain as a nod to the prominence of the Joan Miro mural on WSU’s campus. It’s always exciting to me to see what filmmakers in other parts of the world are doing, and I’m hoping this will develop into a bigger part of the festival in the future.

Even more than that, though, I’m excited to see a film from Ghana in the Gordon Parks competition, as well as one from a Cameroonian filmmaker by way of France. There’s already a vibrant film industry in Africa, one that’s growing more in prominence and quality all the time, and getting even just a little taste of that into our festival here in Wichita is very, very welcome.

Fletcher Powell has worked at KMUW since 2009 as a producer, reporter, and host. He's been the host of All Things Considered since 2012 and KMUW's movie critic since 2016. Fletcher is a member of the Critics Choice Association.