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As we are fresh into the new year, I wanted to re-post something to start everything off that I had originally put up on my Facebook page following last year’s Tallgrass Film Festival in Wichita, Kansas. It speaks to my love of film festivals and the people that dedicate themselves to providing these presentations and celebrations of film and filmmakers around the country and even around the world. There is quite a bit of debate about the worth of film festivals, and I am without a doubt a “true believer.”

Here is what I wrote:

As I work on my wrap up for a couple of film festivals and begin prep for the next one, I want to take a quick moment to talk about the Tallgrass Film Festival in Wichita, Kansas, which just concluded on Sunday night.

I was struck by and reminded of something that is unique to a handful of film festivals and it is something that Tallgrass is a perfect example of: The heart and pure love of filmmakers and filmmaking.

The absolute and undeniable joy and thrill of not just watching art and entertainment on the big screen surrounded by fellow film fans, but then reveling in that shared experience, reliving and rehashing what we’ve all seen and experienced – together. All film festivals share in this to some extent. Of course they do, otherwise why would the directors, programmers and staff put themselves through the stress and strain and lack of sleep to produce those fests? But Tallgrass has that something extra – that genuine love for the people that make movies, that unabashed reverence for the artistry and the commitment and perseverance and the talent to make those dreams a reality that we can all watch and share in.

I always say that film festivals take their lead from the person/people at the top – Executive Directors, Artistic Directors, Head Programmers. They set the tone and their personalities are interweaved in every single element and detail of the fest – by direction or by osmosis. Well, that literal feeling of love of cinema, of moviemaking, of filmmakers, and film fans that is so rich and expansive with the Tallgrass Film Festival, that thing that brings us all back to Wichita so enthusiastically and gratefully – it is shared by each and every person that makes that show run so well (Nick Pope, Gretchen Mitchell, Shan Jabara, Arietta Austin, Blaire Birdsong Johnson, among them), but it truly can all be traced to one person that is the beating heart of that fest. I literally cherish the fact I get to work with her and call her my friend – Lela Meadow-Conner.

So, that was my thought then. It is my thought tonight, and will be tomorrow as well. And will be promoting everything that post spoke to.