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OKLAHOMA CITY (Free Press) — Capping off a busy weekend of virtual and in-person events and a full slate of 180 films, the very best of 16 categories of films were recognized for their excellence.

Winners were chosen by a panel of independent film industry professionals from around the country that included directors, producers, writers, and actors held in high esteem.

As has been the case for years, films submitted to the festival were from around the world but also had a heavy representation from Oklahoma.

New this year was the Best Indigenous Short Film award sponsored by the Cherokee Nation Film Office and including a $1,000 cash prize, the highest single cash prize for the festival to date.

2021 deadCenter Film Festival Award Winners

  • Best Narrative Feature: Inbetween Girl, Dir. Mei Makino
  • Best Documentary Feature: Holy Frit, Dir. Justin Monroe
  • Best Live Action Short: Play It Safe, Dir. Mitch Kalisa
  • Best Short Documentary: The Box, Dirs. James Burns, Shal Ngo
  • Best Indigenous Short: Totsu (Redbird), Dir. Jeremy Charles
  • Best Animation: The Chimney Swift, Dir. Frédéric Schuld
  • Best Music Video: Recover by Yulia Uzkikh 
  • Best Screenplay: Too Many Wades, Written by Stirling J McLaughlin & Wilder Konschak
  • Best Episodic: Blackwater, Dir. Boise Esquerra
  • Virtual Cinema Visions Award: The Eye Doctor of Death, Dirs. B Rich, Brian Schrank, Brian Andrews
  • Special Jury Narrative Feature: Moving in 2008, Dir. Calogero Carucci
  • Special Jury Documentary: Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)
  • Special Jury Short: Touch, Dir. Nir Berger
  • Best Okie Short: Totsu (Redbird), Dir. Jeremy Charles
  • Best Okie Feature: Sakthi Vibrations, Dir. Zoe Sherinian
  • Best Oklahoma Screenplay: 4.19.95, Written by Matt Skuta

Best Okie Feature

Zoe Sherinian, Associate Professor and Chair of Ethnomusicology at the University of Oklahoma, won Best Okie Feature with her film Sakthi Vibrations reveals how two radical, Indian, Catholic nuns reclaim the polluted drum of India’s outcastes or Dalits. The process serves to empower the young female dropouts at the Sakthi Folk Cultural Centre in the Southern region of India.

The film reveals the true power of the Center as the young girls at the very lowest status in a caste system gain confidence through their drumming and dance performances over the course of a year. In addition, the girls are given simple, yet effective ways of making a living through learning tailoring and basket-weaving plus completion of their high school exams.

Sherinian talked with Free Press at the Opening night event earlier in the week and we asked about some of the dynamics of making a film in another country.

“I’ve worked in India since 1985, so I’ve lived there and have a lot of connections,” said Sherinian. “I kind of moved from my first project, which worked with the drum to a certain degree, which was an ethnography of a seminary of Protestants or indigenization.

But there were some aspects that made the project more manageable.

“All those folks knew each other, so I had an introduction and then it was really just in that center,” she said.

Festival continues

The festival continues mostly virtually Monday through Thursday and then, Saturday. Go to deadcenterfilm.org for more information about signing up if you have not already and for the schedule.

However, three in-person events of the festival will be well worth attending for those who live in the metro. See the schedule for times, locations, and details.

WomXn Panel Experience will be at The Treasury Tuesday where panelists will “cover the work and life experiences of five incredible womxn.”

21c Hotel will be hosting a Pride Happy Hour in the early evening and then, later, the screening of No Ordinary Man, an in-depth look at the life of musician and trans culture icon Billy Tipton.

Last Updated June 14, 2021, 7:44 PM by Brett Dickerson – Editor