The Tallgrass Film Festival is showing over 200 films this week from over 35 different countries, but what about all the film submissions that didn't make the cut? Who decides what's worthy of showing during the festival? This is where nearly 30 programmers flex their combined muscle. For day four of our coverage we spoke with Jeremy Bennett about the role of a Tallgrass programmer and his 6 years of experience as one.
Please introduce yourself and the role of a programmer within Tallgrass.
My name is Jeremy Bennett, and I'm a member of the programming committee. My role is to basically watch as many films as I can through spring and summer, either on my own, or in group screenings at the Tallgrass Office. This year I watched around a hundred and seventy films, which sounds like a lot, but I wasn't even in to top 5, there is one woman, who is retired, she watched almost 800 films! Aside from watching the films we review and rate them, and that information is used to build the program for the festival. During the festival I introduce films, host some Q&A's with filmmakers/guests, and work the information tables at the various venues.
How long have you been a programmer and how did the opportunity originally come about? This is my sixth year as a programmer. The first year of the Festival, I met Tim at a bar, and we talked about how much potential Wichita had. He told me about the Fest, so I made it a point to go. That first year was a blast, so I've been a fan ever since. As for getting involved as a programmer; I worked with Nick Pope, who is the Director of Programming, and after many many conversations about movies at work, I was finally talked into giving it a shot.
Do recall which films or experiences triggered your love for cinema?
I mean, I was born in 1978, so Star Wars, E.T., Indiana Jones, and Ghostbusters stand out as the first movies I was ever enamored with, which I don't think is that unique. As I got older, I really liked more challenging cinema that made me think, and sparked discussions with friends. I don't really care about movies as an escape, not that there is anything wrong with that type of film, but it just doesn't do much for me. Then again, I used to watch Mallrats once a week.
List three Tallgrass films you'd recommend we check out.
Double Digits: The Story of a Neighborhood Movie Star (Documentary, Biography, Comedy, Drama)
Landfill Harmonic (Documentary, Biography, Drama)
World of Kanako (Crime, Drama, Mystery)
To learn more about the Tallgrass Film Festival visit their website at tallgrassfilmfest.com