Cinema in a Box – Tallgrass Film Festival
A cinema in a shipping container? Tallgrass Film Association (TFA) out of Wichita, Kansas has come up with an innovative way of reaching out to the public. The film association, which runs an annual film festival every year, has a road show that is taken around the towns and cities of Kansas to show movie trailers and full length films.
Background of the TFA
Wichita native Timothy Gruver came home from his studies at Brigham University and brief career in the movie business in 2002. He founded the Tallgrass Film Association that year. Gruver was a fan of movie festivals having worked with the Los Angeles Film Festival and Outfest during his spell in California.
Gruver envisaged the TFA’s Tallgrass Film Festival to be the Kansas answer to the Telluride festival that attracts thousands of film buffs from the world every year. The first Tallgrass Film Festival was held in 2003 but sadly its founder died just before the third edition at the age of 33. By then it had made itself a reputation of ‘North America’s most stubbornly independent film festival’.
Those who worked with him decided that the show should go on and have driven the annual event to even greater things. Today it is a five day long affair, including, according to the TFA website, “screenings, special events, a traveling road show and educational programming. TFA emphasizes community partnerships and regularly collaborates with the Music Theatre Wichita, Wichita Art Museum, Botanica, Ulrich Museum of Art, Exploration Place, Sedgwick County Historical Museum, Orpheum Theatre, CityArts and Wichita Symphony Orchestra to name just a few, as well as tens of other non-profit organizations throughout the region.”
The Moviemaker Magazine has included the Tallgrass Film Festival in its ’50 film festivals worth the entry fee’ list of important festivals for movie buffs for the last three years. In 2017 it stated, “Between the old and the unprecedented are a wealth of things done right, like educational opportunities (workshops and town hall discussions) that are free to the public, and have an entrepreneurship theme this year.”
Road show and shipping container
As well as the five day annual event run by the TFA, there is a year round road show where the TFA screens important films at cinemas in the cities and towns of Kansas. While many of these are held in the grand former show houses and theatres across the Midwestern state, the TFA also takes along a 40ft shipping container for guests to watch movie trailers.
Late last year the Wichita Eagle reported on the new Site Box Cinema:
“Inside the stark red shipping container will be screenings of – you guessed it – trailers for upcoming Tallgrass films, as well as a couple of short documentaries.”
All showings at the mini cinema are free, helping draw those who might not have otherwise thought to attend any TFA events.
Are you inspired?
Here at the Gateway Gazette we manage to show an almost endless supply of uses for shipping containers – from wind turbines, to art galleries! If articles like this are triggering ideas of your own, contact us today to discuss how you too might repurpose a shipping container of your own…