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.

“Wonderful fest for filmmakers and fans. Great films, smart audience, very cool venue, and a great staff. Very fun weekend, look forward to going back!”

– Ted Roach, director, producerChapel Hill, NC

“It was Amazing/great!!! Extraordinary talent showcased here! Definitely will go again and again."

– Nicole Amelio Casper, photographer, documentarianPhiladelphia, Pa

“KIFF is one of the best film festivals I've been to. It was amazing meeting people who LOVE films as much as I do. I'm still friends with filmmakers and fans I met while attending and hope to come again.”

– Jill Morley, director “Fight Like a Girl”Los Angeles, Ca.

Behind the Scenes

KIFF Board of Directors

A founding member of KIFF, Brian has long been a fan of the movies. He and his identical twin brother, Ben, moved to nearby Kansas City (a well-known early 20th century distribution center for the major Hollywood studios) and mastered the art of restoring the town’s historic movie houses to their original, often art deco, grandeur. Upon graduation from DeVry University in 1980, Brian and Ben opened their first Fine Arts Theatre with Ben serving as president and Brian as vice president. The theaters are now in their 34th year of operation.

Dotty is a professor of film and media studies at Avila University in Kansas City, Mo. She and also taught film history as a visiting professor at the University of Pécs in Hungary. She recently authored a book chapter on Korean film in Food and Film: Bringing Something New to the Table, and appeared in Kirby Dick’s film This Film is Not Yet Rated as an expert on the motion picture rating system. Prior to teaching, Dotty was as a television news producer and directed an award-winning documentary on Florida water problems. For the past decade, Dotty has programmed the documentary features for KIFF and recently spearheaded the launch of the new narrative and documentary shorts category.

Ben is the President of the Fine Arts Theatres and was introduced to Kansas City’s independent movie theaters after graduating from Devry University in 1980. As one of the co-founders of the Fine Arts Theatres in 1982, Ben, along with his twin brother Brian, have restored multiple movie theatres in Kansas City. He is a founding member of KIFF.

Stacy helps empower people living in low-income housing communities in her role at Phoenix Family Services. An advocate for social justice causes through independent film, Stacy has long been involved in Kansas City’s film community, serving as secretary and volunteer coordinator for KIFF and as the former treasurer/director of Kansas City Women in Film Inc. Over the years she’s worked as a producer on a variety of films.

Ben teaches film and digital media at Avila University. He has written, directed, edited, and produced several films that have screened around the world, including a celebrated world premiere of his feature film, Leave It On The Track, at the 66th Edinburgh International Film Festival. Having also screened his work at the Kansas International Film Festival in 2012, Ben joined the KIFF board in 2013.

Bill began his film career in Kansas City at the well-known Calvin Productions and has produced marketing, sales, and training films for a wide variety of multi-national corporations and government agencies. He also writes, shoots, and edits his own documentaries and narrative shorts and helps other local filmmakers in their endeavors. He is a founding board member of KIFF and curates the KIFF Local program.

Lisa Marie is an award-winning artist and filmmaker whose work varies from feature length documentary films to short animation and public art installation. Evans, who participates in artist residencies, has screened her work internationally, from Hungary to France and the Philippines to Canada. In addition to being active in the community, she teaches filmmaking to all ages, facilitates professional development programs for artists, serves on the boards of multiple film organizations, and programs documentaries for the Kansas International Film Festival.

Victoria is an editor in corporate marketing at Burns & McDonnell, a global architecture and engineering firm headquartered in Kansas City. A lifelong investigative journalist, her work includes reporting for The New York Times, WFAE public radio, numerous newspapers and magazines. Her passion for storytelling led to her love of independent film and her work as public relations director for the Charlotte Film Festival before volunteering and joining the KIFF board in 2015.

2015 Juried Prize Winners

The Kansas International Film Festival is proud to announce the winners of our Juried Prize. The winners were chosen by panels of local filmmakers, film educators and critics.

House On Pine Street

Directed by Aaron and Austin Keeling, The House on Pine Street is a psychological horror about a young woman coping with an unwanted pregnancy after moving into a seemingly haunted house. Shot entirely in the Kansas City area with a cast and crew comprised mainly of local talent, the THOPS team is ecstatic to bring the film back ‘home’ as a part of KIFF 2015. USA, Narrative, 112 min.

Crocodile Gennadiy

Directed by Steve Hoover. Gennadiy Mokhnenko has made a name for himself by forcibly abducting homeless Drug-addicted kids from the streets of Mariupol, Ukraine. As his country leans towards a European Union inclusion, hopes of continued post-Soviet revitalization seem possible. In the meantime, ennadiy’s center has evolved into a more nebulous institution. USA, documentary feature, 96 minutes.


2015 Audience Award Winners

All competition films are voted on by our audiences. Films are divided between narrative and documentary and compete in their respective categories. After seeing a film, audience members are given the opportunity to cast their vote on a four-point rating system to gauge how much they liked the film.

House On Pine Street

Right Footed

Past Juried Award Winners

2014: Best Documentary

120 Days

2014: Best Narrative

A Trip To The Island

2013: Best Documentary

Small Small Thing

2013: Best Narrative

K Effect: Stalin’s Editor

2012: Best Documentary


2012: Best Narrative

The Ghastly Love of Johnny X

2011: Best Documentary

Lesson Plan

2011: Best Narrative


2010: Best Documentary

Holy Wars

2010: Best Narrative

Soul at Peace

2009: Best Documentary

Vincent: A Life in Color

2009: Best Narrative

16 To Life

2008: Best Documentary

The Flyboys

2007: Best Documentary

The Edge of Eden: Living with Grizzlies

2007: Best Narrative

Midnight Clear

2006: Best Documentary

Hand of God

2006: Best Narrative

Mojave Phone Booth

2004: Best Documentary

Bellmore: The Unscene & Mojados: Through the Night (tied)

2004: Best Narrative

Independent Vision Award – Chris Gore

Past Films Screened at KIFF

Barbara Hammer—Documentary filmmaker presented two of her films, History Lessons and Resisting Paradise.

G—Special appearances by producer Charles Drew Jr. and actor Jillian Lindsey.span>

Jeffrey Phelps’ Special Ed, Shannon Young’s Razor Eaters, Rusty Nails’ Highway Robbery, Neil dela Llana’s Cavite, Sidney King’s Pearl Diver and so many more.

Primer—2004 Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize Winner.

Code 46—critically acclaimed Michael Winterbottom film starring Tim Robbins and Samantha Morton.

Festival Express—Documentary starring Janis Joplin, The Grateful Dead, The Band and more.

The Sundance Channel Film Series sponsored by Human Rights Watch.

What The Bleep Do You Know?

James Ellroy Presents Bizarre Bazaar

Think! Film Series—Thought-provoking documentaries including Origins of AIDS, War Takes, Ruthie and Connie, Mojados, The Naked Feminist, Voices of Women and Border Bandits.

Filmmaker Torum with Chris Gore of FilmThreat.com and IFC’s Film Fanatic.

The Bread, My Sweet—Special appearances by actor Scott Baio and filmmakers Melissa Martin and Adrienne Wehr.

The Secret Lives of Dentists—Starring Campbell Scott, Hope Davis and Denis Leary.

13 Conversations About 1 Thing—Feature Film direct from the Sundance Film Festival, guest appearance by director Jill Sprecher.

Kubrick: A Life In Pictures—Documentary on Stanley Kubrick, part of a special retrospective.

The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys—Starring Kieran Culkin and Jodie Foster.

Senorita Extravidia—Winner of the Sundance Grand Jury Prize in Documentary.

Alloy Orchestra—World Premiere, Phantom of the Opera. Performed live scores for silent films Nosferatu, The Lost World, Speedy, Metropolis and Blackmail.

30 Year Anniversary Tribute to Women Make Movies—Special appearance by WMM, Executive Director, Debra Zimmerman.

CSA: Confederate States of America—First screening of critically acclaimed film by local filmmaker, Kevin Willmott. CSA went on to be shown at Sundance and has now been sold for distribution.

Charlie: The Art and Life of Charles Chaplin—Documentary by filmmaker Richard Schickel, closing film for 2003 Cannes Film Festival.

Silence—World Premiere, special appearance by actors Tony Todd and Daveigh Chase, producer Dennis Fallon and director Tom Whitus.

Kansas Connection from L.A.—Series of films from L.A. Filmmakers who have ties to Kansas.