Fresh off new statewide incentive package, Oklahoma's deadCenter Film Festival kicks off 21st year on June 10

Oklahoma’s largest film festival returns virtually and with in-person theater and outdoor screenings, including Questlove’s Summer of Soul, We are the Thousand, and OKCThunder Films Pause the Game

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma


Oklahoma City, June 10, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The 21st annual deadCenter Film Festival will kick off a record-breaking slate of 180 films on June 10, and run through June 20 via virtual platform, with select in-person screenings and select outdoor viewings in venues across Oklahoma City. Oklahoma’s largest film festival was one of the first festivals to pivot mostly online in 2020, and returns with a hybrid attraction through opening weekend, punctuated by highly-anticipated, star-studded nationally acclaimed films and locally-made films featuring the top talent and premiere industry incentives. 

Following a quick pivot due to COVID-19 and the international success of its first online festival format, deadCenter Film received more than 800 submissions from around the world. Of the all-time high selection rate, the 21st annual event boasts 30 feature films, joining 150 short films grouped into 18 short film programs.  

Starting things off as dCFF’s Opening Night film, How It Ends features familiar faces Zoe Lister-Jones, Fred Armisen, Olivia Wilde, Helen Hunt, and Lamorne Morris as Liza (Lister-Jones) decides to go to one last party in the face of the apocalypse. Inbetween Girl marks Mei Makino’s directorial debut with a story about a teen artist struggling with her identity following her parents’ sudden divorce.

Captured by female directors Lucy Harvey and Danielle Kummer, Alien on Stage follows a group of bus drivers as they adapt Ridley Scott’s epic sci-fi film for the local stage. Iranian-American filmmaker Ashkan Soltani turns up the volume on Indigenous heavy metal music with Rez Metal, exploring the universal culture of metal, its creation, and its value as a source of inspiration, happiness, and belonging. And, No Ordinary Man chronicles the talent and impact of 1930’s jazz pianist and transmasculine pioneer Billy Tipton, a tender topic deftly documented by directors Aisling Chin-Yee and Chase Joynt.

deadCenter is pleased to bring director Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson’s music documentary Summer of Soul (...Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised) to Booker T. Washington Park in Northeast Oklahoma City for a free outdoor screening Saturday evening, June 12. Opening for Summer of Soul (...Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised), which brings to light never-before-seen footage of the 1969 festival presented at what is now Harlem’s Marcus Garvey Park, is the documentary short Pause the Game, marking the fourth OKC Thunder Film to premiere at deadCenter. On Friday night, June 11, deadCenter will rock Wheeler District with an outdoor screening of We Are The Thousand, a one-of-kind music doc about the global formation of a 1000+ member band who all happen to love the Foo Fighters.

“deadCenter is where creativity, community, and celebration intersect to create one of the most anticipated events of the year and we are so excited to curate unique experiences that celebrate the magic of independent film,” said Alyx Picard Davis, executive director of deadCenter Film. “Both Summer of Soul and We Are The Thousand tap into that creative energy and drive. Showing them outdoors is the perfect way to experience not only phenomenal filmmaking but also enjoy a sample of the outstanding outdoor venues Oklahoma City has to offer.” 

On Saturday, June 19, Oklahoma-based filmmaker Mickey Reece will partner with deadCenter to offer a Special Presentation of Agnes (on the heels of its premiere at Tribeca) at Rodeo Cinema at 8 p.m. deadCenter is excited to showcase the director’s fourth festival appearance.  Agnes tells the story of a nun’s disturbing behavior sparking rumors of demonic possession at a remote convent in a fashion only the Oklahoman auteur could do. 

“We couldn’t be more thrilled about this year’s slate! While submissions were understandably down, the overall quality of storytelling was truly awe-inspiring, making the selection process very difficult. This is reflected in the record-breaking amount of films selected this year,” said Sara Thompson, Director of Programming for deadCenter Film. “I’m incredibly proud of our programming team and feel we were able to program a slate reflective of the team’s talent and thoughtfulness, and one that will be thoroughly enjoyed by our amazing audiences.”

There are twenty-eight films by Oklahomans included in this year’s festival. Short films will be presented as part of the beloved “Okie Shorts'' program and include Totsu (Redbird), Sardis, Turtles, Hope, Roots of Lacrosse, Snow Day, Yarn, The Writers Room, Phantom Power, Black Owned, OK/LA, You’re Not Safe in Your Own Bed, and Stick Up. Oklahoma musicians will be showcased as part of the Music Video short film program, with singles from Greyson Chance, Samantha Crain, Jabee, The Imaginaries, Mothica, Onyx Lane, Jessica Ray, Roberto, and Salem Blue. 

New this year, deadCenter is offering a Pride pass, which grants access to all of the festival’s queer programming from June 17-20, going into the following weekend of OKC PrideFest & Parade starting on June 25. This spring, the organization added Curator of Queer Programming to the festival’s programming team and brought on local filmmaker and deadCenter alum and award winner, Laron Chapman to serve. The position was created in effort to ensure deadCenter is serving the LGBTQ+ community with a diverse slate of films vetted in both authenticity and quality filmmaking. Chapman will oversee both submissions within the category as well as curating queer films from around the world. 

This year also marks the first year for the Best Indigenous Short Film Award, complete with a cash prize of $1000 sponsored by the Cherokee Nation Film Office. Films in competition for the inaugural award are: Blackwater, San Diego, The Writers Room, Roots of Lacrosse, Totsu (Redbird), Sardis, and Inage’i (In the Woods). The winner of the Best Indigenous Short Film Award, along with all of the 2021 Festival winners, will be announced live from Social Capital and via festival livestream on Sunday, June 13, at 1 p.m.

This year’s slate spotlights a diverse range of perspectives for a wide variety of ages, from stories set during the pandemic to documentaries revisiting the past. Also returning this year are deadCenter’s Community Showcase, featuring short films that are free and available to the public online, family-favorite kidsFest, and techCenter Industry Fair, bringing film technologies and virtual reality films to Tower Theatre on June 11-12.

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About the 21st annual deadCenter Film Festival

deadCenter Film Festival is Oklahoma’s largest film festival, recognized as one of the “Top 20 Coolest Film Festivals in the World” by MovieMaker magazine. More than 40,000 people attended deadCenter Film Festival virtually in 2020, representing audiences in 42 states and 24 countries. The 21st annual edition is made possible through presenting sponsors Allied Arts, The Chickasaw Nation, Citizens Bank of Edmond, Kirkpatrick Foundation, and Inasmuch Foundation. 

Virtual passes to dCFF21 are $100 and offer unlimited access to all shorts, panels, and discussions and priority access to all feature films. deadCenter will also offer a selection of free films and shorts programs to the public and sell Individual tickets to select shorts programs and features. For passes and more information, go to www.deadcenterfilm.org.

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