Central Culture & The Preternatural Elements: deadCenter Film Festival 2011 – Feature


The notion of the deadCenter Film Festival resides in the ability of a event to be a central part of culture both straddling the artistic but embracing the fun preternatural elements that make it a great fit for an area such as Oklahoma City.

After the dissolution of Cinevegas, there has been a lull in the summer festival schedule that both embraces cool independent film and the party atmosphere which made that festival cutting edge. deadCenter has the potential to fill that void as it continues to find it voice in an arena both diverse and decidedly normal.


Opening Night provided a balance of outdoors intensity as well as a vision of philanthropy. Inside Red Prime Steakhouse which buzzed with an 80s vibe surrounded in reflecting tunnels of light, the whiskey ran full as Stella Artois rolled through in the packed surroundings. The tendencies of everyone to talk about the notion of movies balanced with an innate sense of community purveyed the night.


Tahlina Sky“, projected on an outdoor screen in the bevels of Automobile Alley just outside the city center, was packed to the brim with nearly 5000 people to support the hometown intensity of the film’s subjects: rock band Kings Of Leon who hail directly from around the Oklahoma City area. The film, which premiered at Tribeca in May, brings the intention back home as it shows an unbiased view of the boys’ roots within the community.


The aspect of localized possibilities revolves in filmmakers taking on their own ideas of what makes the area “home”. Director Mark Potts, who has been very prolific with the festival over the years, integrates his stories with a sense of the eccentric and the inherently goofy while still giving it a true overview in “S&M Lawncare“. In his stories, the simplest parts of life, like mowing a good yard of grass or pouring a perfect yogurt, are the standards of importance in a community. As one of the stars, you have to place yourself out there and go for the laugh, even if it is at your own expense. Potts understands this which makes his humor all the more relatable because it comes genuinely from the heart in knowing that everything is in flux.


Moving completely across the tendril, “The Dead Inside” focuses its ideas in melding horror with a musical. Obviously using the Queen & Meatloaf inspired tendencies of “Rocky Horror” as a starting point, this outlay uses the confined spaces of the house at its center to great effect. The story revolves around a couple going about their daily life, he with a desk job and she with writing a zombie novel. As the progression seeps through and both fiction and reality start to meld, the female lead is overtaken by a presence in the house who only wants to escape. The music, especially when the lead female character is rebelling against her unwelcome visitor, is shot ultra close, swirling around her. What buoys the film is that the music is not overwrought but inherently true to the story. When the horror becomes a little more defined, the music becomes sparser which is due to the effect of the story. The movie integrates an interesting concept to surprisingly good avail.

Across the street as the late nights continued, the aspect of music scene crept into the parties with distinct mannerisms. While shorts continued on in the art gallery, students from ACM [partially founded by Flaming Lips frontman Wayne Coyne , an Oklahoma City native] bruised the night in open air surroundings bringing musical aspirations of sounds reminscent of The Killers, Yes & Radiohead. The line of the school, owing to a progressive rock overlay, allowed experimentation as the low percentage beer flowed willingly.

Other shindigs peppered the landscape including a rooftop soiree where the covers songs (again by the ACM kids) offered a definite bohemian vibe that reflected the vision of the festival while the Stella, in its effervescent possibilities, kept the party moving.

Moving away from the pure festival centric venues, Oklahoma City, especially in the area surrounding the Bricktown District, offered both music and culinary fueled side-tracks that played both fun and intriguing.


Just off the canals near the Renaissance Hotel, bordering the killer looking baseball field, the Biting Sow lures its patrons with the sound of pure rock stylings atop its patios. Promoting the Tornado Musician Association, the guitarist’s moves, despite his age, showed a dexterity of talent and jamming that kept the locals chillin’ for hours sucking back drafts with undeniable accord.


Across town near a newly formed art installation again fueled by Flaming Lips frontman Wayne Coyne, the margarita-fueled arena of The Iguana gives a vitality to the early evening tendencies allowed by the dexterity of the sauce entrenched chimichanga that provides a notion of food coma when the night time calls.


Intrinsic to midtown revolves around Irma’s Burger Shack, consistent in its beauty satisfying the normality of the standard with a sense of hometown pride that everyone in town swears by. Their juicy homemade patties, that rustle with sauce, make consumption quick and repetitive,

deadCenter Film Festival visualizes and holds itself in the enticingly correct position where cool movies and parties collide with a sense of possibility. With hot days and storm filled nights in the breath of Oklahoma City, the energy rages with a sense of commonality where the community fuels life with a sense of the artistic balanced with food and music blossoming around every corner.


Posted on August 9, 2011, in Arts Travel & Culture Features, Film Festival Coverage and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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