The Kansas International Film Festival (KIFF) is a non-profit organization dedicated to the exhibition and preservation of independent and classic cinema. Using the art and power of film, the festival draws communities together to share diverse cultures, viewpoints and conversation. With support from the Fine Arts Group and many community partners, we advocate for independent film to be recognized as a cultural, economic and educational asset in our community.
It was the creative combination of great friendships, local film lovers and Hollywood talent that lead to the first Kansas International Film Festival nearly 20 years ago. “Films being shown here at the time didn’t have an edge; they weren’t introspective or crafted from the heart and soul of independent filmmakers,” says Benjamin Meade, a musician, filmmaker and contemporary philosopher who helped build Kansas City’s film community from the ground up.
His mission back then was to bring that diversity of film to the Heartland. So he joined forces with Ben and Brian Mossman, twin brothers known for their love of film and passion for restoring old movie houses to their vintage state. Together, with the help of other film enthusiasts in the city, KIFF was born.
In its first year, the then-called Halfway To Hollywood Festival screened just over 50 films, packing theaters and turning away crowds for some of the festival’s most controversial and locally produced films.
Meade, now a retired film professor from Avila University and production company owner, told reporters back then that “the festival never did die down.”
Still true to its roots, KIFF – with more than 100 films screening and submissions from more than 50 countries worldwide – still celebrates Kansas City’s local film and arts communities with special programming blocks and events during the six-day event. The festival extends that commitment each year by partnering with as many local businesses and organizations that make our community so unique.
The festival is held annually in the Glenwood Arts Theatre, a hidden gem in the lower level of the Ranch Mart Shopping Center in Overland Park, Kansas – a bedroom community of Kansas City, Missouri.
The theater, with its vintage vibe and old-school box office, originally opened as a twin theater in 1967 but was gutted in the 1990s and used as a storage facility. The Fine Arts Theatre Group, operated by Brian and Ben, refurbished the complex to its vintage roots in 2005.
The KIFF Experience
Filmmakers from around the world submit their work and attend our festival because of its storied history and reputation for celebrating filmmakers with Midwestern roots and beyond.
While KIFF attracts Academy Award-winning films, provides major networking opportunities and large events drawing community awareness, the festival never loses site of its roots, which are the local art, music and film communities that support each other.
In celebration of those connections, KIFF features local talent annually during the festival with our KIFF Local series and other featured programming at the Glenwood Arts Theatre throughout the year.
Behind the Scenes
KIFF Board of Directors