The 13th annual Tallgrass Film Festival kicks off this week (October 14-18th) in downtown Wichita, KS. Showcasing 200+ films from around the world, Tallgrass links filmmakers and film lovers to celebrate the culture and community of independent cinema. In anticipation for the week's festivities We Are Wichita is spotlighting a handful of the people who've contributed their time and resources to make the festival the destination it's become.

   NICOLLETTE ENGELS-DINGMAN    Tallgrass Film Festival Volunteer Copywriter at  Jajo

Tallgrass Film Festival Volunteer
Copywriter at Jajo

What triggered your interest to volunteer this year?
For years now, as a film enthusiast, I've attended and appreciated the festival, so it seems like it's time to give back. If you care about something, you support it, right? It no longer feels like enough to be an onlooker—I want to truly experience Tallgrass and its sense of excitement and community that other local events don't compare to. With numerous opportunities to help, whether it's ushering for a film, setting up events or keeping filmmakers from across the world comfortable, there's something for everyone. If you are alive, there is some task within the festival for you. Wichita's really bloomed into something special in the last decade, and it's events like Tallgrass that keep the city connected to culture and thriving. It's great to go home knowing you're apart of something bigger than yourself, supporting the elements of the city that make it an amazing place to live.

What's your favorite film genre and why?
That question is so difficult. It's like asking someone to choose a favorite child. What I watch is usually based on my mood, but for the sake of the question, I have a deep-seated love for the horror genre. There's an honesty to horror you don't get with other genres. It's not always highbrow, but even the trashiest slasher film reflects the inner turmoil of being human. People tend to shy away from the darkest parts of themselves and convey a facade of Stepford Housewives perfection. Horror doesn't. It can be raw and primal, but that makes it real. It's always been like that. If you look at a timeline and compare horror films to current events throughout the years, they're closely tied to the affairs people were uneasy talking about. At one point, it was nuclear warfare, now it's a fear rooted in post apocalyptic ruin, environmental crises and artificial intelligence. There's a lot of junk, but there's a lot of beauty there, too. Plus, it's hard not to appreciate a genre that so heavily relies on practical effects (or at least used to) and bizarre creativity. It's really a labor of love.

List three movies you plan on catching this year at Tallgrass.
They Look Like People -  (Drama, Mystery, Thriller)
Uncanny - (Drama, Sci-Fi, Thriller)
In The Dark - (Horror, Drama, Mystery)

To learn more about the Tallgrass Film Festival visit their website at tallgrassfilmfest.com