Journal Record

Some 11 years after the deadCENTER Film Festival's humble beginnings at City Arts Center, the event is expected to draw more than 10,000 people to downtown screenings over five days.

The festival, which kicked off Wednesday night, packs a $1.1 million economic punch for the city with its numerous parties, screenings and panel discussions, festival organizers said.

The Skirvin Hilton Hotel is well-booked for the duration of the film festival, said Steve Houser, director of sales and marketing at the hotel.

"Especially in the summer, which is slow for industry because there are fewer conventions, these events really help," Houser said.

The Red Piano Lounge on the ground floor of the hotel was set to host a film festival after-party on Wednesday night, giving the venue a nice boost in business on a weeknight, he said.

The film festival brings crowds of people into the lobby of the Oklahoma City Museum of Art, which will host several festival screenings this week, said Leslie Spears, a spokeswoman for the museum.

"It brings us tons of people," Spears said. "They come for exhibits and cafe and films. On the weekends, it increases traffic by as many as 500 people." This year's festival will feature 100 independent films culled from more than 1,000 submissions.

The festival helps the city's image as a place with things to do and cultural panache, said Mike Carrier, president of the Oklahoma City Convention & Visitors Bureau.

"It's something that adds to the fabric of life in Oklahoma City," Carrier said. "It's an attraction that says 'look, this is not a sleepy little cow town,' and there is a great cultural life here in a variety of ways."