The deadCenter Film Festival celebrates its 20thanniversary from June 11-21, with an extended 10-day schedule, and more movies and panels than ever before. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, deadCenter Film moved the entire festival slate of award-winning films, filmmaker panels, celebrity discussions, screenplay readings, and film classes online for 2020, utilizing the latest streaming and community engagement technologies.
Of the 1,600 films considered for the 2020 festival, 140 films were selected, with of them 20 being feature-length movies and 120 short films. With licensing issues, be aware that some of the films are only available to be streamed in Oklahoma and some are only available on specific dates. Thirty of the chosen films were made in Oklahoma or by Oklahoma filmmakers. In this article, I highlight all of the Oklahoma films with their synopsis and trailers. I’ve also included links to my Q&A sessions with Oklahoma feature filmmakers that responded to my interview request.
For passes and more information, go to www.deadcenterfilm.org.
When Luke Bellamy is released from the Oklahoma State Penitentiary he is apprehensive about his prospects. However, one thing is certain; he desperately wants to reconnect to his 8 year old daughter, Adeline, whom he hasn’t seen for a decade. The truth is, with all his hopes and dreams shattered, it’s hard to return to his small-town home. It’s no secret to most locals that Luke just served an 7 year sentence for negligent homicide because of a drunken accident that killed his wife. It was a tragedy that left his baby daughter without her mother or him. The good news is that Addie is doing well… she is an incredibly smart girl with a deep interest in ornithology who is being raised well by her loving grandparents (the parents of her mother)… the bad news is the family wants nothing to do with Luke. Their deep seeded anger at him is only re-ignited by Luke’s return.
Breaking Them Up
Tired of his parents’ constant bickering, 15 year old Damien is certain they’re all wrong for each other— he would know, he’s a relationship expert. Damien and his best friend Erin have a side hustle coupling-up classmates for the right price. So when Damien discovers his parents may have had a shotgunning wedding, he convinces Erin to turn their efforts toward finding his parents new partners— but the cost of doing business may come at the price of everyone involved.
Love and Fury
Filmmaker Sterlin Harjo follows Native artists for a year as they navigate their careers in the US and abroad. The film explores the immense complexities each artist faces concerning their own identity as Native artists, as well as, pushing further Native art into a post-colonial world.
Mix Tape: Volume 1
Factory Obscura presents MIX-TAPE Vol. 1. A collaborative musical and visual album inspired by the “MIX-TAPE” experience. Including Audio Book Club, stepmom, Bad Jokes, LCG and the X, Jabee & L.T.Z. and Jarvix featuring Elecktra.
PARKLAND RISING follows the high school students and families who became fierce leaders of a national movement for gun reform following the shooting of 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in 2018. With unparalleled access, this documentary goes behind the news headlines to share the personal stories of the students leading the movement, as well as the families of victims who are working together to create meaningful change. PARKLAND RISING joins David Hogg, Jaclyn Corin, Emma Gonzalez, grieving fathers Fred Guttenberg and Manuel Oliver and other emerging youth activists in the immediate aftermath of the tragedy. The film documents their unfolding journey for nine defining months as they channel their anger into action and engage in an epic battle of wills with the gun lobby.
Unconcsious soldiers are dropped into a testing site and discover their memories have been wiped. Once docile machines are the new intelligence.
She’s the Eldest
Three eccentric siblings return to their childhood home to reconnect but end up digging up the past of their parents’ mysterious disappearances.
SHIFTER is a time-travel horror film about a young woman who experiences the painful and gruesome side effects of an experiment with time-travel gone wrong that causes her to lose control and shift through time at random. Subverting many time-travel movie tropes and led by a primarily female cast, SHIFTER is not your typical time-travel film. Not only is it a tense horror thriller with scares and gruesome gory effects, but also a character drama that explores themes of depression, isolation, and the dangers of an unchecked hubris.
A group of kids are out with a borrowed drone, shooting video of their neighborhood. But when the drone crashes into a mysterious neighbor’s second-story window, one boy gets more than he bargains for.
Two inept brothers prove that no matter what age, boys will be boys.
Life in rural Oklahoma can be beautiful, filled with the freedom to roam and time to grow up slowly. Unless you are Kiara Folsom and your mother is incarcerated. With the small town knowing everyone’s business, Kiara finds safety in her one close friend. She builds a wall around the outside world that comes crashing down on her the day she gets her first period and the entire lunchroom is made aware of it.
Code Red is the story of one young lady becoming a woman, all alone.
In a world of adrenaline and speed, a quadriplegic race car driver pushes to keep his dream of racing alive
The darkest place you can live is within the depths of your own past.
Feel So Good
Young Omi’s night out with friends takes a strange turn when he’s hypnotized through the TV by local hypnotist Valentine. He wakes up the next morning alone and bruised, with something, or someone, in his trunk, struggling to remember what happened.
A man invites two old college friends to dinner, where a simple game will have unexpected consequences.
Home Sweet Home
A young woman’s fears get the best of her after she arrives home late at night to find her front door open.
We were able to create moments of a young man life the day of his passing. Moments of the unknown. Moments of truth.
Against the landscape of a rural reservation in Oklahoma, the lives of a Native woman and nine-year-old boy intersect over the course of a school day. Exhausted and burned out, Sharon struggles to provide stability to her fifth grade students. Bear is having a particularly hard time, enduring challenges both at home and in the classroom. He is desperate to escape it all, and Sharon is left chasing a little boy who is running to nowhere.
Searching for food, a boy breaks into a neighborhood home. But when the homeowners return, he becomes trapped inside with those he’s stealing from.
Love stories told from multiple perspectives are brought to life by experimental animations in a touching exploration of what it means to experience love in this world.
When an amateur party magician is abducted by an obsessive wanna-be wizard, he must escape his interrogation for magic’s biggest secret or die trying.
Twelve year old Vivian is counting the days to her first period. But armed with scant information (it’s the 80’s!) and the help of only her single dad and best male buddy, she finds that navigating “the event” is way more complex and comedic than she ever expected.
The duo searches for truth on their journey away from their past towards redemption.
An eager clothespin salesman will let nothing get in the way of landing that next big sale.
Send Me Wings
Send Me Wings tells the story of a fashion designer living in the city who inherits a church in her hometown. When she returns to sell it, she discovers a sick boy staying there, forcing her to confront her past and her purpose.
Jessica, a put-upon real estate agent is forced to work alongside Blake, her merciless and cruel superior, in selling a large estate to The Steves, a pair of potential buyers. When a tragic accident befalls the pitiless Blake resulting in his untimely (but maybe deserved?) demise, Jessica seizes the opportunity to make the sale on her own by hiding Blake’s body. It’s the perfect crime with one small problem, Jessica’s phone won’t stop ringing. Even worse, it’s Blake. Suspenseful hilarity ensues as Jessica attempts to close the sale before anyone finds out, but secrets rarely go uncovered for long.
The Stories Within
“The Story Within” takes a glimpse into the artistic mind of Oklahoma City artist Denise Duong. Giving us a rare peek inside her creative heart and soul.
You Know the Drill
A normal school day in rural Wyoming becomes combative as students flip tables, dog-pile on trainers armed with plastic guns, and ponder whether they could fight back in a real shooting. Over 1,000 miles away on a southern California beach, a child psychologist watches her own children play in the waves after counseling a middle schooler with active shooter drill anxiety. She warns that if we don’t start researching now, it could take 17 years before society knows the consequences of conducting aggressive drills in schools.
“Street Light” by Branjae
Street Light was birthed at a moment when one’s higher self is empowered to seek help through resources and community. The story line in the video is just that; a survivor in a domestic violence situation who is empowered to leave said situation and seek support in their community.
“Enough?” by Cavern Company
This Wes Anderson inspired music video is filled with a comedic irony that develops a short story about letting go. Paired with Cavern Company’s indie alternative single “Enough?” from their “So This Is Happiness EP” the lighthearted video keeps a high energy and delightfully entertaining feel from start to finish.
“My Baby’s Gone” by Steelwind
“My Baby’s Gone” Steelwind’s first single off their album, Blue.
“Tie Me to the Bed” by Joe Sparrow
Director J. Logan Alexander’s music video “Tie Me To The Bed” for Los Angeles-based artist Joe Sparrow” is a descent into lust and desire, exploring the shadows of powerlessness and losing control.
“Heart” by Mike Jawz
Set in a futuristic supernatural world, Mike Jawz (Mike Muscala) takes on the evil nemesis and his underground crew, and tries to recapture the heart of his vigilante partner and love of his life (Albreuna Gonzaque). Along the way, the tables could turn in this 1940’s film noir inspired music video.
“Cigarettes and Coffee” by The Nghiems
This is a music video for The Nghiems – Cigarettes and Coffee.
The 2020 deadCenter Film Festivals runs from June 11-21. Read my collection of Question and Answer sessions with other deadCenter filmmakers, past and present, here.