First day at Tallgrass Film Festival

OK, I don’t want to seem over-enthusiastic.

But Tallgrass is an amazing festival.

Well organized, filmmaker-friendly. Excellent films. Great audiences–not always huge, eg. the 1 pm Friday afternoon screening of Louder Than a Bomb was about 1/3 full. But the folks who were there were super responsive. The characters, young people competing in the annual Louder Than a Bomb poetry slam in Chicago, are awesome. Their performances had me wanting to clap. Co-director Greg Jacobs said that, when audiences are larger, they do clap. The woman behind me said she cried all through the movie. Greg said he cries every time he sees it.

The film is going to have theatrical distribution. Do not miss the chance to see it with an audience. It’s going to be one of the classic coming-of-age docs, on a par with Hoop Dreams. People will compare it to Spellbound and Mad Hot Ballroom, but it’s better than either, because it’s not just about preparing for the competition, it’s about the kids and the community that’s created. And their awesome poetry and performances.

From the point of view of craft: this is what documentary film should be.

At the Gala evening screening of The Dry Land, Tallgrass staff announced that today’s attendence was a record, more than 1,000. Curious to see what the weekend brings.

Back at my room at the Hotel in Old Town now, hoping I get some sleep. The revitalization of Old Town has made it a bar-hopping mecca, with plenty of live music. Luckily I only seem to be hearing one band at a time.