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Each year, deadCenter Film Festival pushes the boundaries and promotes the kind of daring, innovative filmmaking that will shape the future of cinema.

George Lang, film critic. (BRETT DICKERSON/Okla City Free Press)

Celebrating its 20th year as a leading regional festival with an international reputation, deadCenter offers a slate of feature films for 2020 that explore both reality and imagination through the lens of new and fast-rising filmmakers.

Of course, this is a year when innovation was key to making deadCenter happen at all. In April, incoming executive director Alyx Picard Davis announced that the festival would take place online over an extended schedule, June 11-21, a response to the coronavirus outbreak.

The move to an online festival still effectively showcases the films while also offering a responsible, socially distant environment for enjoying the festival entries.

Cinema

For the next two weeks, Oklahoma City Free Press will preview what deadCenter will offer in this unusual rollout strategy. Today, we preview five feature films that are worth the price of admission, which is $10 for individual films, $100 for festival passes and donor-level passes start at $2,500. Visit deadcenterfilm.org for more information.

Eddie — With the May 23 death of former Oklahoma State University basketball coach Eddie Sutton, David Tester and Christopher Hunt’s documentary about Sutton’s life and career achieves a new level of poignancy, exploring both the triumphs and tragedies the legendary coach encountered in a life of winning basketball seasons and losing personal struggles. Hunt and Tester assemble an enviable group of Sutton experts including former President Bill Clinton, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, members of the Sutton family, sports reporters like Dick Vitale and The Oklahoman’s Berry Tramel, and the OSU players whom Sutton impacted over the years.

Parkland Rising

Parkland Rising — Director Cheryl Horner captured the experiences of teenagers as executive producer of MTV’s True Life series, but few experiences portrayed in that documentary-reality series are as stark and galvanizing as the Feb. 14, 2018 mass shooting at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Through interviews with students eyewitnesses like David Hogg and Cameron Kasky, who achieved national prominence as anti-gun violence actvists in the wake of the killings, Parkland Rising amplifies the voices of those for whom the issue of firearms is no longer academic or theoretical.

Shifter — In a new twist on the time travel genre, director Jacob Burns, who co-wrote this science fiction thriller with brother Zach Burns, explores the plight of Theresa Chaney (Nicole Fancher), who endures physical and psychological trauma when a time travel experiment goes horribly wrong. Shifter features several deadCenter regulars in major roles, including Ben Hall, Mickey Reece, Ashley Mandanas and Laron Chapman.

Love and Fury — One of the most important Native American filmmakers working today, Sterlin Harjo first gained prominence with his 2009 narrative film Four Sheets to the Wind and won raves for his personal documentary This May Be the Last Time, explores a year in the lives of Native artists as they create and promote their art at home and abroad.

Breaking Them Up — A comedy shot in Oklahoma City by director Scott Dow, Breaking Them Up focuses on the efforts of eighth grader Damien (Jakob Wedel) when he realizes that his parents hate each other and tries to find them other partners. Dow, who directed the 2015 parody film The Walking Deceased, worked from a script by first-time screenwriter Dev Wadhwa on Breaking Them Up, which also stars Stephen Schneider (Bumblebee), Kelen Coleman (How to Get Away with Murder) and Tess Aubert (Shameless).


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