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Opening Night at Tallgrass Filmfest 2017

Opening Night at Tallgrass Film Fest

Opening night of the Tallgrass Film Festival kicked things off with a lot of laughs and maybe even a few tears. Nearly 400 festival-goers and filmmakers attended the opening night films at the Scottish Rite center on Wednesday evening.

To start things off attendees were treated to a special viewing of the student film “Fidget Sinner”, one of the top 10 films from this year’s Down to the Wire 24-hour film race. After a brief Q&A with the student filmmakers, we moved on to the main show of the evening.

The North American premiere of a film from South Africa called “For The Birds”. A moving love story, set in the 70s and based off of a real couple, that had the audience, and this writer, laughing thoroughly throughout and even crying by the end. This was directed by Quentin Krog and featured actors Simoné Nortmann and Neels van Jaarsveld, among others.

Interview with Simoné and Neels

I had a chance to interview Ms. Nortmann and Mr. Jaarsveld before the film and sit in on the Q&A following it. “It was wonderful to work on something that’s of an international standard. For me that’s important” said Jaarsveld, “and to be in Wichita for the Tallgrass Film Festival is really very exciting. I’ve never been to Kansas. I’ve been to America once before, to New York but not to Kansas, and I hope to return soon. It’s all very exciting and the people are very friendly.”

The pair spoke about how their film was made in just 5 weeks with a budget of just $600,000. And that it opened in their city on the same weekend as Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, so they had to “compete with a Hollywood Blockbuster." Nortmann also told us that she got her script just three days before filming and really had to put in a lot of time and work to get the wonderful performance we saw on screen.

“It’s my first film, so the entire experience is one that has been a highlight of my career, of my life almost thus far. I worked with amazing actors that are really at the top of the ladder in South Africa. So that was the greatest part for me was to be able to play opposite them, and to learn so much from them and to see them work was amazing.”

As for her thoughts on Kansas? “Well I’ve only seen it in the Wizard of Oz, so that’s where I learned of Kansas, but this is my first time here. But no, really, it’s culturally very rich and it’s beautiful, and really I didn’t know what to expect.”

Well from the sounds of the audience laughter we got a nice surprise as well in their wonderful film. And it seems like we are all in for a treat with many more fantastic films to come!


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