OKLAHOMA CITY (Free Press) — For the 22nd year in a row, OKC’s premiere indie showcase and film festival, deadCenter, gets rolling this week, and as the event spreads out to theaters and open-air spaces all over the city, so too do the festival’s scope and prestige expand with the developments of the past year.
In addition to last year’s announcement that deadCenter will now be an official qualifying festival for the Academy Awards for both live action and animated shorts, organizers have also dramatically expanded the level of diversity and inclusion among their own ranks, resulting in a more unique and exciting lineup of films than maybe ever before.
Music and Film
with Brett Fieldcamp
Let’s take a look at some of the most “can’t miss” screenings on the slate to help you plan your own deadCenter 2022 experience.
“Mama Bears” – Thursday, June 9th, 6:00pm – Harkins Theatre: Chickasaw Nation Theater
This year’s opening night feature is a perfect encapsulation of the festival’s efforts to spotlight important, real-world perspectives, and to align the event with June’s ongoing Pride celebrations.
“Mama Bears” recounts the stories of Sara Cunningham and Kimberly Shappley, two staunch religious conservative mothers, and their parallel journeys to acceptance, love, and even pro-LGBTQ+ activism in support of their children, all intertwined with the story of Tammi Terrell Morris, whose experience as an African-American lesbian exemplifies the intersectional struggles of modern America.
“Out of Exile” – Thursday, June 9th, 8:30pm – Harkins Theatre: Chickasaw Nation Theater
A gritty, Southern neo-noir, “Out of Exile” comes from one of Oklahoma’s own important Indigenous filmmaking voices, writer/director Kyle Kauwika Harris, who follows up years of documentaries and shorts with this exploration of mistakes both old and new and the cycles of violence that follow.
Centering on an ex-con armed robber and his involvement in “one last job” gone awry, “Out of Exile” examines the strains of family obligation, military trauma, and even illegal immigration through its roster of grizzled antiheroes and unrelenting lawmen featuring Tarantino alum Peter Greene and pro wrestling legend Jake “The Snake” Roberts.
“Seeds of Greenwood” – Friday, June 10th, 5:30pm – Scissortail Park
OKC Thunder Films presents this look at the current cultural resurgence and importance of Tulsa’s Greenwood district, the site of one of the most devastating and horrific racial massacres in US history just over 100 years ago.
The Thunder have established the Thunder Fellows program in Greenwood in order to encourage and foster a new generation of African-American youth in arts, entertainment, and tech, and this short film offering from the organization’s own film team looks at the impact the program has already had.
The deadCenter team’s decision to present this as their main attraction for the family-friendly Friday Night Family Frolic in Scissortail Park is a testament to their belief that serious subject matter, and even difficult, tragic history, should be shared and experienced by children and families to provide an all-important context and understanding of our communities and the ways that we can work to reshape and rebuild them together.
“Oklahoma Breakdown” – Sunday, June 12th, 3:00pm – Harkins Theatre: OK Film + Music Office Theater
After establishing himself in the world of sports videography with the Dallas Mavericks, documentarian Christopher Fitzpatrick presents his first-ever feature documentary “Oklahoma Breakdown” about Oklahoma’s incomparable Mike Hosty and his unyielding musical journey through obscurity, underground buzz, and his eventual place as the godfather of the Okie indie scene.
The film will have its Oklahoma premiere as part of this year’s festival, with Fitzpatrick and the local legend Mike Hosty himself in attendance.
undeadCenter – Nightly – Harkins Theatre: Allied Arts Theater
For the first time ever, deadCenter has partnered with one of Oklahoma’s leading moviemaking minds to present a nightly slate of weird, wild, and left-field cult-film fodder, from shorts to full-length freakiness.
Acclaimed OK-based writer/director Mickey Reece has personally curated a selection of some of the strangest and most creatively unexpected offerings from young filmmakers, and will present them in an ongoing showcase throughout the festival.
Standout among the undeadCenter lineup is Spanish revenge thriller “Piggy,” following a relentlessly bullied girl and the violent and horrific scenario that follows her witnessing her tormenters being kidnapped. Catch it Saturday, June 11th at 9:20pm in the Allied Arts Theater at Harkins.
“Butterfly in the Sky” – Sunday, June 12th, 6:00pm – Harkins Theatre: OK Film + Music Office Theater
The official closing night feature for 2022 is this documentary exploring the history and eternal cultural impact of “Reading Rainbow,” including its continuing efforts to foster literacy and the pop-culture legend of host LeVar Burton.
Audiences of a certain age will no doubt have strong, undeniably warm feelings reliving their childhood days of PBS and the lifelong comfort of the show’s iconic theme song from which this documentary takes its name. Parents will have the perfect opportunity to introduce their children to the series that instilled a love of reading in generations of children, as well as to experience the surprising tribulations behind the scenes and the persistent turmoil surrounding public television itself.
For tickets, volunteer info, and for more information on these films or the countless more set to be showcased at the 2022 deadCenter Film Festival, visit deadcenterfilm.org.
Last Updated June 7, 2022, 11:52 AM by Brett Dickerson – Editor