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OKLAHOMA CITY (Free Press) — In a year of firsts, Oklahoma City’s deadCenter Film Festival is now an official part of the festival route for filmmakers to the ACADEMY AWARDS®.

Nonprofit deadCenter Film, the organizer of the 21-year-old festival, recently announced the Academy’s choice.

It is yet another first in a year of firsts.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences designated deadCenter as a qualifying festival in Animated Short Film/Live Action Short Film categories.

Beginning with the 2022 deadCenter Film Festival, award winners in these two categories will now be eligible to enter the Academy’s Short Films competition.

Alyx Picard Davis sits in the screening room of the Paramount Building on Film Row where the deadCenter offices are located. March 2019. (Brett Dickerson/Okla City Free Press)

Alyx Picard Davis, executive director of deadCenter Film said that they were “over the moon excited” to receive the designation especially since they just completed the second year of successfully running the festival during the time of COVID.

During 2020, deadCenter held the entire festival virtually which had its upsides. Many people overseas were able to view the festival films, which was a first and those overseas numbers continued into this year.

This summer, the festival was a hybrid of virtual and limited in-person events.

To learn more: It’s here! 2021 deadCenter Film Festival is in-person, online, virtual

“Not only does it speak to deadCenter’s consistent quality of programming,” said Davis. “[But,]this opportunity continues to reinforce the efforts and passions of the entire Oklahoma film community and ensures one heck of a celebration in our 22nd year!”

It is a large step up in prestige for deadCenter which started in one room with one 16mm projector at the Fairgrounds 20 years ago.

With this new designation, opportunities multiply for filmmakers who are trying to step up in the industry.

Film industry arrives

This comes at a time when the film industry is taking off in Oklahoma.

Martin Scorsese’s $200 million film adaptation of “Killers of the Flower Moon” is being filmed near Pawhuska this summer.

And, Prairie Surf Media has successfully converted the large clearspan open spaces of the old Cox Convention Center downtown into soundstages much larger than most studios outside of Hollywood.

Filmmaker (and former dC Executive Director) Lance McDaniel told Free Press at opening night this summer that the large Prairie Surf studios provide all sorts of opportunities because of the space.

“I can build a whole house inside of one of those soundstages if I need to,” said McDaniel.

2021 a big year

After the festival, deadCenter released key information about participation and new partnerships.

“We are proud to have engaged new audiences through creative local partnerships with the Cherokee Nation Film Office and the inaugural Best Indigenous Short award,” said Davis.

“We offered a stellar slate of queer films and joined our friends at OKC Pride Alliance, and hosted a live, raucous awards show and all-day celebration at Social Capital.”

To read all about who won what: deadCenter Film Festival Awards Show cites best of the best

The Awards Show is produced virtually while fans, filmmakers, and dC staff mingle in Social Capitol and watch on the monitors. 2021. (BRETT DICKERSON/Okla City Free Press)

Viewership statistics

  • Furthest countries with viewers was Australia and Japan
  • 20 countries representing 36 region and 64 distinct cities
  • 41 states
  • Number of attendees total: 22,500


  • Inaugural Indigenous Film Award: Totsu (Redbird), directed by Jeremy Charles
  • Laron Chapman named Curator of Queer Programming
  • New outdoor venues: Washington Park and Wheeler Park
  • New party venues: soundstage at Prairie Surf and Kindred Spirits
  • Public award show at Social Capital
  • Pride Pass

Local venues

Short film fans watch the deadCenter Film Festival’s Short Film 2 program Saturday, June 12, 2021. (BRETT DICKERSON/Okla City Free Press)

“Thanks to local independent theaters like Rodeo Cinema, the Oklahoma City Museum of Art, and Tower Theatre, we were able to safely return audiences to the big screen,” said Sara Thompson, director of programming at deadCenter Film.

“Outdoor screenings in the Wheeler district and Washington Park were so fun – we’re happy to begin our return to the in-person deadCenter that our community knows and loves!”

Dates for the 22nd Annual deadCenter Film Festival will be announced in the fall.

Last Updated July 24, 2021, 9:40 PM by Brett Dickerson – Editor