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deadCENTER Film Festival Preview…

9:00 AM EDT on June 12, 2014

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The 14th annual deadCENTER Film Festival begins tonight and I, for one, am excited to see how much the fest has grown and matured over the past decade or so. I still remember when it was just a pup, showing various outré flicks down at the State Fairgrounds, only the most elite movie geeks in the Metro aware of its presence.

Since I’ve been gone from Oklahoma, the thing has blown-up into a trendsetting venue for not only Okie filmmakers, but also as a burgeoning national and international outlet for films looking for a little more exposure in the buckle of the Bible Belt, featuring numerous movies we'd never see otherwise.

And then there’s the numerous parties—a scene that, from what I’m told, is actually beginning to eclipse the movies themselves—where hobnobbin’, wheelin’ n’ dealin’ and drunken’ canoodlin’ all take place, often earning many deserved accolades and deals for hungry directors and producers, garnering their flicks a place on someone’s DVD shelf, somewhere.

In prep for the festival, which runs until June 15th, here are five highlights of what’s going on during this beloved Okie institution’s 14th outing.

OPENING NIGHT JITTERS!

Opening night of deadCENTER commences with a kick-off party on the Oklahoma City Museum of Art rooftop, something of which I am both too unattractive and overweight to attend. But afterwards, the first film screening of the event, the British film The Trip to Italy, starts at 8 p.m. and many forced laughs by Americans pretending to get the jokes will be had!

Afterwards, you can either head to the post-film party at Iguana Mexican Grill for food, folks and fun, or you can head home with me for leftover taco salad, the first 20 minutes of whatever is playing on This-TV (Channel 52.2) and then a long, depressive session of crying as I recount everything that has ever gone wrong in my life. Viva cinema!

EVERYBODY CUT LOOSE!

If Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals was adapted into an all dancin’, all singin’ musical spectacular, I’d like to think that it’d go by the name of Footloose. Based on the true story of the Oklahoma town of Elmore that specifically told kids to keep those Sunday shoes permanently laced to their feet, Kevin Bacon leads a revolution of gyration to the tunes of such anti-establishment rockers as Kenny Loggins and Shalimar.

Relive the glory days of montaged rebellion and choreographed anarchy as deadCENTER projects the 1984 flick Footloose at the Great Lawn at the Myriad Gardens, 9:30 p.m. Preceding the show will be a concert by Souled Out, of which I’m sure will be a great compliment to the film. I'm sure.

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FRIDAY THE 13th STRIKES BACK!

The notoriously unlucky and preposterously evil date of Friday the 13th strikes deadCENTER with all the force of a blunt machete wielded by an undead mentally handicapped madman. So, in honor of this special day, the Access Midstream Theater at Harkins will be presenting the perfect film to honor this quasi-holiday, Friday the 13th Children of the Corn! With director Fritz Kiersch in attendance!

(I know he’s there to talk about this much-loved Stephen King adaptation, but I for one have so many questions about his 1987 cinematic adaptation of the S&M-influenced Conan-rip-off Gor. Tarl Cabot will rise again!)

This night of forcefully encroached darkness continues with terrifying shorts in the Friday the 13th collection at the Love’s Theater at Harkins starting at 11 p.m., Army of Frankensteins at the Devon Energy Auditorium at 9:30 p.m. and the whimsically titled Film Row Frolic, a festive block party open to the public that will feature bands, food trucks and public drunkenness, beginning at 10:30 p.m. on Film Row. Bring your own hockey mask and pick-axe for extra fun!

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APPROPRIATE CELEBRATION!

Unlike our own state government, deadCENTER has remained steadfast in its commitment to honor and present a forum for Native Americans through their films and filmmakers. It’s one of the very rare treaties that we can actually trust. This year is no different as Saturday is a day dedicated to Indigenous peoples, starting with this year’s Oklahoma Film ICON Award winner Wes Studi (a full-blooded Cherokee who probably doesn’t know you’re 1/164th princess grandmother, so don’t ask)  talking shop about his varied career, noon at the Oklahoma History Center.

Later on the evening, leave the headdresses at home but go ahead and still bring you’re well-meaning intentions to the Oklahoma City Museum of Art for a double-bill of LaDonna Harris: Indian 101 at 5:30 p.m., a Native American Film Panel from 6:45 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. and then a screening of a Sterlin Harjo’s latest This May Be the Last Time at 8:30 p.m.

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GET YOUR WINGS!

Sunday is the final day of the festival, and there are still plenty of great films left to check out: To Be Takei, The Posthuman Project, The Case Against 8 and numerous shorts. It’s a great way to take a breather before the final party of the night as Aerosmith hits the stage and sassafrass's some of their biggest numbers like “Walk This Way” and “Love in an Elevator” across the stage for thousands of Japanese fans!

Oh, wait, sorry. It’s not Aerosmith live, but instead the Aerosmith concert flick Rock for the Rising Sun wherein the Toxic Twins and crew play their heroin-deprived hearts out for a tsunami slash earthquake benefit, the film of which is being shown on the Great Lawn at the Myriad Gardens, 9:30 p.m.. Even then, the guys put on a fantastic show and, given Oklahoma’s penchant for our own terrestrial-shaking incidents, maybe we’ll get our own massive earthquake! It’ll be just like watching the show in Japan but with little to no nuclear fallout!

I’m sure that afterwards there is a closing night after-party, but, once-again, I am far too overweight and unattractive to be told where it is. Diet starts tomorrow, so maybe next year!

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