The deadCenter Film Festival made its annual debut on Thursday, June 11, with a welcome video recorded by legendary director Martin Scorsese. Festival technology director Stephen Tyler said the Oklahoma Film and Music Office and deadCenter were “elated” to have Scorsese’s welcome. It was a high note to a day that is one of the strangest in deadCenter’s 20-year history.
Due to precautions related to COVID-19, the festival will be online with a very few exceptions for the first time. The festival typically runs at multiple locations in the downtown Oklahoma City metro area, but organizers are encouraging watch parties and solo viewing this year. The COVID restrictons make for a bittersweet 20th anniversary celebration, but participants are making the most of technology and the current cultural moment.
City Councilwoman Nikki Nice (Ward 7) hosted a virtual panel discussion with three of the festival’s six black filmmakers on the first day of events. All the filmmakers are offering timely narratives from black protagonists’ points of view, and the entire discussion is available online for passholders. The participating filmmakers were Ya’Ke, Sev DeMy, and Elegance Bratton. Filmmakers Justin, Things of Beauty Burn, and Test Pattern had scheduling conflicts.
This year will be the longest running in deadCenter film festival history, with the demands of virtual screenings pushing the lenth to ten days from the traditional four. The festival will run from June 11-21.
New festival director Alyx Picard-Davis said, “We have had passes purchased from eight different countries and across 29 states.” In other words, people are still excited about deadCenter, and they’re “showing up.”
“It’s been a fun challenge shifting deadCenter into a virtual environment while infusing it with the same joy, excitement and sense of discovery of an in-person film festival,” Picard-Davis said.
There will also be two outdoor screenings, which will take place this Friday and Saturday. Friday’s screening of Shifter and Robot Riot in the Tower Theatre parking lot is for pass holders only. Saturday it’s the always popular Okie Shorts at Scissortail Park, which will be free and open to the public.
Visit www.deadcenterfilm.org. for passes and more information on how to navigate the virtual festival.