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OKLAHOMA CITY (Free Press) — Now in its 21st year, deadCenter Film Festival consistently presents films that greatly expand the vocabulary of cinema. By providing a platform for emerging talent, deadCenter offers the raw feed on innovation, showcasing projects that are pure of vision and free from the mechanisms of the mainstream. 

In 2020, executive director Alyx Picard Davis took deadCenter online over an extended schedule, allowing the festival to survive and thrive just a few months into the COVID-19 pandemic. 

This year’s festival will be a hybrid version in which a few key live screenings will take place throughout the June 10-20 event, but the bulk of deadCenter’s offerings will be available through the festival’s Eventive portal. 

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 $100 for festival passes and $25 for deadCenter’s Pride programming, June 17-20. Visit deadcenterfilm.org for more information.

Music and film

by Brett Fieldcamp

Sponsored by True Sky Credit Union

Skating Polly: Ugly Pop.

Norman’s Kelli Mayo and Peyton Bighorse started Skating Polly when they were 9 and 14, respectively, and the sisters quickly built a following with their 2010 debut album, Taking Over the World. It quickly became clear that, despite their age, Skating Polly was not a novelty act: in 2011, Exene Cervenka of the legendary Los Angeles punk band X met Bighorse and Mayo and produced their second album, Lost Wonderfuls. Director Henry Mortensen, son of actor and Skating Polly fan Viggo Mortensen, captures the band’s history and interviews family members, key supporters and superfans in Skating Polly: Ugly Pop, locking into the group’s raw guitar-pop aesthetic.

The End of Us.

Directors Henry Loevner Steven Kanter used the COVID-19 pandemic as not just a backdrop, but a virtual character in this story about a couple (Alison Vingiano and Ben Coleman) as they break-up during the beginning of shelter-in-place restrictions in California. In some ways, The End of Us serves as a dramatic time capsule: shot with a three-person crew that all quarantined together during the shoot, the film offers an object lesson on creating art during times of chaos. 

Alien On Stage.

Some great films transition beautifully to the stage, but few would imagine Ridley Scott’s 1979 film Alien as ideal source material for a production on London’s West End. Nevertheless, that is what happens when a group of bus drivers in Dorset attempt to stage their own live production of the classic. They approach it with all seriousness in the group’s community theater and it flops. Once the bus drivers realize they should be playing for laughs, all works out in the end. Alien On Stage offers a fun, good-natured look at people in over their heads who get it just right. 

Dear Mr. Brody.

Directed by Keith Maitland (Tower), Dear Mr. Brody centers on the 1970 offer by 21-year-old margarine company heir Michael Brody Jr. to give away $25 million to people who wrote pitches and requests. He appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show and was featured in newspaper stories for his intended largesse, but Brody’s version of reality was heavily seasoned with PCP and his promises were not easily fulfilled. Half a century later, a cache of unopened letters is discovered and shared with the people and families who reached out to Brody. 

Rez Metal.

Heavy metal’s enduring popularity in Native American communities is explored in this expressive documentary focusing on Kyle Felter, the lead singer of the Navajo metal band I Don’t Konform. In an effort to garner more attention for his band, Felter reaches out to Flemming Rasmussen, the Danish producer who helmed Metallica’s landmark 1980s albums, including 1986’s Master of Puppets. Rasmussen is suitably impressed and flies to Window Rock, Arizona to feel the power first-hand.

Last Updated June 9, 2021, 3:33 PM by Brett Dickerson – Editor