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OKLAHOMA CITY (Free Press) — For the 21st annual deadCenter Film Festival, Executive Director Alyx Picard Davis is building on lessons from last year’s event, which succeeded despite the COVID-19 pandemic by launching the festival on the Eventive portal. 

But this time, Picard Davis is looking forward to a return to some real live human interaction at the fest.

“Well, we are so excited to be heading into four days of in-person activities,” Picard said Thursday morning. “We’re going to have a couple of happy hours at Ponyboy, we’ve got a couple of after-parties. So it really feels like we’re returning to the core DNA of deadCenter this year while keeping the accessibility that we had last year. So, we’re just excited to get it all kicked off.”

Music and film

by Brett Fieldcamp

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Thursday’s opening night festivities at the Winchester Drive-In, 6930 S. Western Ave., will include a screening of How It Ends, a comedy-drama in which a Los Angeleno (Zoe Lister-Jones) must travel across the city to a party before the world ends. The cast includes such modern comedy all-stars as Nick Kroll, Fred Armisen, Charlie Day and Whitney Cummings.

While such screenings were impossible in 2020, Picard Davis said the launch of the virtual festival kept everything running at a time when so many events were falling by the wayside. 

“I’m grateful that we had the resources and the wherewithal and honestly, the support to move forward,” she said. “Even in the midst of everything else, it still was a bright spot last year for me.”

This year’s festival features theatrical screenings at Tower Theatre, Rodeo Cinema and Oklahoma City Museum of Art, along with events at 21c Hotel and Social Capital, a Friday night afterparty at Prairie Surf Studios and a 9:30 p.m. Saturday screening of Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised) at Booker T. Washington Park, 400 N. High Ave.

Directed by Ahmir “?uestlove” Thompson of The Roots, Summer of Soul chronicles the Harlem Cultural Festival, which took place over the course of six weeks in 1969 at Harlem’s Marcus Garvey Park. The film, which is culled from recently unearthed footage, features performances by Stevie Wonder, Sly & the Family Stone, Nina Simone, Gladys Knight & the Pips, B.B. King, Mahalia Jackson, and The 5th Dimension. 

While this year’s event includes plenty of opportunities to watch films theatrically and responsibly, the majority of films will be available through the Eventive portal. 

deadCenter Executive Director Alyx Picard packs up for one of the many events she was leading around the state before the pandemic in 2020. (BRETT DICKERSON/Okla City Free Press)

Picard Davis said she is not certain how future festivals will be split between virtual and live events, but as the film industry reasserts itself in a post-pandemic world, she will be watching to see how things unfold. 

“Honestly, part of it just depends on the way that the industry falls,” Picard Davis said. “There are big theater chains that don’t necessarily like that people can pull up a film in their homes. But, also, you’re seeing a lot of people who do like that and people’s money is going to talk, so I think we’re on the cusp of this evolution of how people consume films.

“We’ve always been fascinated with how technology intersects with art, and so as long as the audience, and the industry and the filmmakers will allow it, I think this is just the way the future is going to look,” she said.

Now that it is safe for vaccinated individuals to use the festival’s Virtual Reality headsets, deadCenter’s Technology Fair returns with VR programming that Picard Davis said is centered on films that depend on and complement the technology.

“We’ve partnered with the Thunder Launchpad to present the latest in augmented reality apps to further tell the stories of sports fans,” she said. “That is returning this year and we’re bringing the films that we selected last year as well so that people can see those stories the way that they were meant to be told.”

Picard continued, “And, if you’ve never seen a story told in virtual reality. It’s completely different from playing a game in virtual reality or just kind of fooling around in there. The stories that we pick, VR can’t be a gimmick to tell it, it has to really bring something to the table, inserting you in the story, and doing something innovative for us to consider it as a deadCenter VR film.”

Visit deadcenterfilm.org

Last Updated June 10, 2021, 3:27 PM by Brett Dickerson – Editor