6 Must-See Films at deadCenter Film Festival 2023 - 405 Magazine

6 Must-See Films at deadCenter Film Festival 2023

For the movie newbie and silver-screen savant, here’s where to start at Oklahoma’s largest film festival.

People sitting in lawn chairs and lying on blankets watch a film at Wheeler Park in Oklahoma City during deadCenter Film Festival.

Photo from deadCenter Film Festival.

For the movie newbie and silver-screen savant, here’s where to start at Oklahoma’s largest film festival.

With 129 short films, 12 narrative feature films, 14 documentary features — not to mention panels, parties and much more — deadCenter is an essential carnival of cinema for Oklahoma’s film enthusiasts. You could carve out an entire weekend parading from film to film, but you might only have time for a few showings, or maybe only one. 

A packed lineup of stellar selections speaks to the festival’s quality, but it doesn’t make it easy to choose what to watch. To give you some guidance, we reached out to deadCenter PR and marketing team members Krystal Yoseph and Angel Stark for the films that organizers have their eyes on. 

Whether you’re new or experienced, or only have room for one day, we have recommendations to make the most of your quick festival experience. And if you find the time, why not see more?

For Friday filmgoers…

Watch Know Your Place, the directorial debut from Zia Mohajerjasbi about Eritrean-American teenager Robel as he traverses Seattle with his best friend to deliver a suitcase of money and medicine to a sick family member. The feature-length drama examines the city’s accelerating gentrification through the journey, and Robel takes on the pressure of increasing familial responsibility while discovering himself.

Know Your Place shows June 9 at 8:30 p.m. and June 10 at 4:30 p.m. at Harkins Theatres.

For Saturday showtimes…

Check out The Herricanes, a documentary from director Olivia Kuan that chronicles the 1970s women’s tackle football team Houston Herricanes. Along with capturing the team’s fighting spirit to stake their space in the sport they love and proving a resonant example for present-day female athletes, the film’s climax includes a showdown with the hometown Oklahoma City Dolls.

The Herricanes shows June 10 at 5:30 p.m. and June 11 at 3 p.m. at Harkins Theatres.

For a Sunday movie…

Watch Fancy Dance, a mystery from Seneca–Cayuga director Erica Tremblay. The feature-length drama stars Lily Gladstone (who’s also in Oklahoma-filmed Killers of the Flower Moon) as a Native American hustler who sets off to find her missing sister while heading to the state powwow with her niece. The film explores the love and hardships felt by Indigenous women, and it previously showed at Sundance Film Festival and South by Southwest.

Fancy Dance shows June 11 at 6 p.m. at First Americans Museum.

For the whole family…

Check out the festival’s two family-friendly shorts collections: FamilyFest Shorts and PROUD Family Shorts. Both collections are a mix of animated, live-action and documentary short films that offer something for everyone. The films in the FamilyFest Shorts program range from time-traveling explorations to living blueberries, and in the PROUD Family Shorts program range from an underwater adventure to the true story of an all-girls football team. And a plus for families — FamilyFest Shorts is free to attend.

FamilyFest Shorts shows June 10 at 10:30 a.m. at Harkins Theatres, and PROUD Family Shorts shows June 11 at 11 a.m. at Harkins Theatres.

For newcomers…

Catch the world premiere of What Rhymes with Reason, an Oklahoma feature film about a group of childhood friends that venture into the mountains following a tragedy. Themes of faith, mental health and coming of age in the social media era mark the trek through Oklahoma’s stunning landscapes.

What Rhymes with Reason shows June 8 at 6:30 p.m. and June 10 at 4 p.m. at Harkins Theatres.

For the experienced attendees…

Consider the Avant-Garde Shorts collection. Dive into a surreal celebration of a unique collection in the documentary Margie Soudek’s Salt and Pepper Shakers, follow a Black trans person’s barbershop experience in the live-action short Code Switch, and navigate intense seas as Sejin helps her father in the animated short Sea on the Day When the Magic Returns, and more. With each short comes a new surprise, and even the most-dedicated film-lovers will find something fresh and vibrant.

Avant-Garde Shorts shows June 9 at 5:30 p.m. at Harkins Theatres.

You can find the full schedule of films on deadCenter’s website.