2016 Festival Information
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Opening Night Gala: LIFE ITSELF

“Deeply Enthralling. Documentary Master Steve James has put the pieces of Ebert's life together with extraordinary fascination and vision." - Entertainment Weekly

The Opening Night Gala at 12th annual Tallgrass Film Festival features the Wichita theatrical premiere of LIFE ITSELF,  with Special Guest, Producer Zak Piper. Playing with the short film THE GUNFIGHTER (d. Eric Kissack, USA, 2014, 9m.) Purchase tickets here.

From critically acclaimed Director Steve James (Hoop Dreams) along with executive producers Martin Scorsese (The Departed) and Steven Zaillian (Moneyball), this rivieting portrait recounts the inspiring, entertaining and colorful life of world-renowned film critic Roger Ebert--a story that is by turns personal, funny, moving and transcendent. Based on his bestselling memoir of the same name, LIFE ITSELF, explores Roger Ebert's legacy--his Pulitzer Prize-winning film criticism at the Chicago Sun-Times, his turn as screenwriter of BEYOND THE VALLEY OF THE DOLLS, his on and off screen relationship with Gene Siskel, all culminating in his ascension as one of the most influential cultural voices in America.

The Opening Night Gala, sponsored by Rick & Monica Nutt,  takes place on Wednesday, October 15 at 7:00 pm at the Orpheum Theatre and will be followed by the Opening Night Gala party at Union Station with open bar, food and music. Tickets are available online beginning September 27 and in person October 13. A VIP TALLPass gains admittance to all Galas, after-parties and screenings.

About Zak Piper:

Zak is an Emmy-winning Documentary Producer who previously served as Director of Production at Kartemquin Films for more than a decade. Most recently, Zak produced LIFE ITSELF, a film based on renowned film critic and cultural voice Roger Ebert’s acclaimed memoir of the same name. The film premiered at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival and was an Official Selection of the 67th Cannes Film Festival.  Zak also co-produced the critically acclaimed film THE INTERRUPTERS, which premiered at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival. The film screened at dozens of film festivals around the world and received a 2012 Spirit Award for Best Documentary. Previously, Zak co-produced AT THE DEATH HOUSE DOOR, which premiered at the 2008 SXSW Film Festival and was officially short-listed in the Best Documentary category for the 81st Academy Awards.  Zak was also Associate Producer of PRISONER OF HER PAST, a co-production between Kartemquin Films and the Chicago Tribune.