The Tallgrass Film Festival recently announced a new award category, the Gordon Parks Filmmaker Award for Outstanding Black Filmmaker. Award winners receive $5,000 cash and a spotlight screening at the 19th Annual Tallgrass Film Festival.

Tallgrass, Kansas’ largest independent film festival, will be held Oct. 20 to 24 in downtown Wichita.

Films entered for the award must have been completed after January 2020, be a feature-length narrative film (minimum 60 minutes) with no traditional distribution deal at the time of the festival. Entries are open to films of any production budget from any country, but must be directed by an individual that self-identifies as Black, African-American or part of the African-Diaspora. Films entered in this category will be eligible for awards in the other feature length categories as well.

Thanks to this award’s sponsorship by Cargill, the cash prize matches the award presented for the Stubbornly Independent Gala winner, which has previously been the festival’s highest recognition.

The award was established in collaboration with David Parks, Gordon Parks’ son, and with the support of the Kansas African American Museum, Shocker Studios, Wichita State University’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion, and the Wichita Branch NAACP.

“It is an honor to have a film award as a tribute to the unique and gifted Gordon Parks. I wish he was alive to judge and present the first Tallgrass Festival Film award to a deserving filmmaker who treasures and respects the art of filmmaking,” said David Parks.

Gordon Parks, who grew up in Fort Scott, KS, was a self-taught artist who became the first African-American photographer for Life and Vogue magazines. He also pursued movie directing and screenwriting, working at the helm of the films “The Learning Tree,” based on a novel he wrote, and “Shaft.”

While only one film will receive the top prize, other submitted films may be selected for viewing during the festival. The last day to submit a film for consideration is July 26, award winners will be notified Oct. 4. For more information about this and other Tallgrass Film Festival Awards, go to https://filmfreeway.com/tallgrassfilmfestival.

Malcolm Carter is a Report for America corps member based at The Community Voice covering Wichita’s African-American community

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