The 14th Annual deadCenter Film Festival begins TONIGHT at various locations in downtown Oklahoma City and will screen about 100 films, many with Oklahoma ties, by the time it closes Sunday night.
As previously reported, Executive Director Lance McDaniel told me the festival garnered more than 1,000 submissions, almost twice as many as last year and a record for the event.
“I think the biggest thing about the schedule this year is the variety of films that we have,” Kim Haywood, the festival’s director of programming, told me.
The opening night film, “The Trip to Italy,” stars Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon as they wine, dine and snark their way through a road trip in Italy. It screens at 8 tonight at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art, 415 Couch Drive. You have to be a deadCenter pass holder to get into this screening, according to my excellent colleague Nathan Poppe.
Haywood told me about one-third of the features and short films have Oklahoma ties, including “The Posthuman Project,” feature film debut of Oklahoma City moviemaker and NewsOK videographer Kyle Roberts. “The Posthuman Project” will make its world premiere at deadCenter, but he publicly announced today that it will play later this summer at a little convention called Comic-Con International in San Diego, Calif.
Among the documentaries, Moore native Neil Berkeley will return with “Harmontown,” his chronicle of TV writer Dan Harmon of NBC’s “Community”; Bryan Beasley will present “The Quiet Philanthropist: The Edith Gaylord Story,” a portrait of the trailblazing local journalist; Julianna Brannum will teach “LaDonna Harris: Indian 101” with her film about the American Indian activist from Walters; and Derek Watson’s “Sewing Hope,” will tell the story of Ugandan nun Sister Rosemary Nyirumbe, who just made Time’s 2014 list of 100 most influential people.
Oklahoma features on the lineup include McDaniel’s (“Just Crazy Enough”) new religious thriller “Light from the Darkroom,” McLoud resident Adam Hampton’s (“The Unusual Calling of Charlie Christmas”) filmmaking comedy “Rough Cut,” and Edmond denizen Ryan Bellgardt’s debut feature, the horror pic “Army of Frankensteins.”
“There’s lots and lots of strong Oklahoma films,” Haywood said. “But what we saw was that a lot of films that were submitting to Sundance were actually submitting to us, too.”
Among the movies that debuted at January’s Sundance Film Festival that will play at deadCenter are “To Be Takei,” “Hellion,” “Alive Inside,” “Frank,” “The Last Days of Vietnam,” “Nick Offerman: American Ham,” and Tulsa filmmaker Sterlin Harjo’s documentary “This May Be the Last Time.” Plus, the slate includes “Before I Disappear,” writer/director/actor Shawn Christensen’s feature-length expansion of his 2012 Oscar-winning short film “Curfew.”
Screening on Friday the 13th will be the 1984 horror hit “Children of the Corn,” directed by Oklahoma City University professor Fritz Kiersch, who will be presented the festival’s Icon Award. Atoka native Matthew Mungle, a makeup artist who won an Oscar for 1992’s “Dracula,” also will receive the Icon honor.
“This is the first time that the Friday that falls during the festival has been Friday the 13th, so we’ve done some fun programming with that,” Haywood said.
The festival also has programmed free nighttime screenings at the Myriad Gardens: a 30th anniversary screening of “Footloose,” based on real events in Elmore City, on June 13; the Memphis music documentary “Take Me to the River,” followed by a concert featuring some of the musicians in the film, on June 14; and the rock doc “Aerosmith: Rock for the Rising Sun” on June 15.
Along with films, the festival will include filmmaking panels, screenplay table reads and concerts presented by the Arts Council of Oklahoma City. For more information, go to www.deadcenterfilm.org.
Here are some trailers from some of the Oklahoma films on the schedule (watch for language in some of them):