deadCenter Film, producers of Oklahoma’s largest and only OSCAR ® qualifying film festival, today releases the full schedule for 2023, sharing headlining, Opening and Closing Night films, Oklahoma features, and exclusive film industry networking events, parties, and panel discussions at deadcenterfilm.org. The 23rd annual deadCenter Film Festival will take place in downtown Oklahoma City, June 8-11, and yet again was featured by MovieMaker Magazine in its annual listing of “50 film festivals worth the entry fee” for the 2023 edition. Locals Charlie Ludden and Miriam Campos will serve as the inaugural festival co-chairs.
Of more than 1900 submissions, deadCenter programmers have confirmed 165 selections for 2023; 12 narrative features, 14 documentary features, 129 shorts, and 10 additional films. The Opening Night Film is SXSW premiere Black Barbie, written and directed by OU graduate and returning deadCenter filmmaker Lagueria Davis. It is bookended by Fancy Dance, the Closing Night film, shot in Oklahoma by Oklahoma filmmaker Erica Tremblay, which premiered at Sundance in January. OKCThunder Films will debut Steps on June 10, exploring the inspirational story of Oklahoma City disabled athlete Derek Loccident, whose life was changed forever in a train accident, picking up in California where he is currently training for the Paralympic Games in Paris in 2024.
Festival-goers will recognize acclaimed actors throughout the 2023 slate, such as Lea Thompson, Lily Gladstone, Rumer Willis, Seth Green, Gilbert Godfrey, Kevin Smith, Weird Al Yankovic and Leslie Jordan on the big screen, as well as local actors and neighboring faces from Oklahoma’s burgeoning film industry. Screening venues this year include the Oklahoma City Museum of Art, Harkins Bricktown, First Americans Museum, 21c Museum Hotel Oklahoma City, JDM Place and Scissortail Park.
The deadCenter Film Festival is synonymous with movie magic in Oklahoma, and we couldn’t be more proud to celebrate this lineup with filmmakers and festival-goers far and wide,” said Cacky Poarch, executive director of deadCenter Film. “ We’re excited to welcome many returning filmmakers, cheer on short films taking the road to the OSCARS ® through the “dead center” of the US and to entice new attendees to spend four days with us across any number of programs and venues, while welcoming back recurring pass holders. Of course our many incredible sponsors and year-round supporters make this event possible, so with this schedule launch the countdown to the big event starts now!”
NARRATIVE FEATURE HIGHLIGHTS
This Closeness is a thriller exploring a range of dynamics between a lonely lodging host and the couple who rents a room for a high school reunion, culminating in an intimate battle to claim territory. In Onyx the Fortuitous and the Talisman of Souls, director Andrew Bowser’s viral YouTube character attends a once-in-a-lifetime ritual at his idol’s dark mansion. My Divorce Party observes female friendships navigating an uncomfortable yet honest gathering on what’s likely the opposite of the best day of your life. A Pretty Good Movie follows a man seeking to make a name for himself through cinema, while confronting an entrenched industry that may never support that achievement.
DOCUMENTARY FEATURE HIGHLIGHTS
Herricanes revisits the Houston team in the first women’s full tackle football league in the 1970’s with appearances by rivals, the almighty Oklahoma City Dolls. Bad Press follows a rogue reporter fighting to expose government corruption, and its ramifications, in Indian Country. Juneteenth: Faith & Freedom reveals the misuse of Christianity to justify American slavery and faith that empowered the formerly enslaved and their descendants to fight for freedom. A Disturbance in the Force explores a two-hour "Star Wars Holiday Special,” watched by 13 million people in 1978, that has never re-aired.
OKLAHOMA FILMMAKER HIGHLIGHTS
What Rhymes with Reason is the latest narrative feature by returning deadCenter filmmaker Kyle Roberts, following teens after tragedy ignites them on a quest to find a legendary landmark hidden in the wilderness, as a coming-of-age film in partnership with Oklahoma’s 988 Mental Health Lifeline.
Riding Legacy is a documentary feature by first-time director Kian Talor covering the modern-day Oklahoma Black cowboy community that has existed since the early 1850s, highlighting the origin of Black cowboys/girls, the Black rodeo community, and the future for those who ride locally and professionally.
Hell Hath No Fury is Zachary Burns return to deadCenter with a dark comedy narrative feature about a husband and wife who separately and unknowingly plot to murder each other on the same fateful night.
The Awkward Stage is the deadCenter follow-up for filmmakers Jeremy and Kara Choate, with a narrative feature of a middle school reject who falls in love with a sculpture.
Filmed in Tulsa, Body Electric, is a documentary feature by former Lyric Theater of Oklahoma Artistic Director Nick Demos, evaluating visibility, dysmorphia, acceptance, and empowerment in the queer community.
SHORTS AND MUSIC
The festival will feature 20 short film categories, with new blocks such as Iranian Shorts, Avant Garde and Les Artistes. There will be two Okie Shorts sections this year, and a High School block programmed by Ella Janes.
Okie music videos include Chinga La Migra by Lincka, Shots by Lauren Bumgarner, Pale in the Darkness by Sisteria, Generational Dust by Rahul Chakraborty, and By the Dawn by expat Ryan Stephen Holly.
“I’m so excited to share what our amazing programmers selected with Oklahoma audiences,” said Sara Thompson, director of programming for deadCenter Film. “We have incredible work from extremely talented filmmakers from around the world and right here in our home state. Start saving up that popcorn money folks, it’s time to go to the movies!”
Not to be missed this year are 2023 iterations of festival favorites: deadCenter University, kidsFest, Afro Cinema, Late Night PJ Party highlighting Dazed and Confused, Film Row Frolic, the outdoor music documentary under the stars - It’s Only Life After All, with a look into iconic folk-rock band, the Indigo Girls - and, of course, the parties!
The 2023 slate also features Film Future, on June 9 and 10 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., as a collection of immersive films and experiences created by audacious storytellers navigating cutting-edge technology to expand how stories are told. Film Future, curated by former deadCenter executive director Lance McDaniel, features motion capture, drones, digital animation, augmented reality, and fully immersive 360 virtual reality.