Film Fests Archive for June, 2010

OKC's deadCENTER Fest Announces Winners

deadCENTER Film Festival Announces Award Winners for 2010
$300 Okie Film ‘Simmons on Vinyl’ Wins Grand Jury
OKLAHOMA CITY – Thousands of film enthusiasts from around the world gathered in Oklahoma City for the 10th annual deadCENTER Film Festival, a five-day celebration of independent film in the dead center of the United States June 9-13.
Of the more than 100 films selected to screen at seven downtown locations – many to sold-out audiences – ten rose above the rest to claim awards in the following ten categories: Student, Animation, Narrative Short, Documentary Short, Narrative Feature, Documentary Feature, Okie Short, Okie Feature, Grand Jury Narrative Feature and Grand Jury Narrative Documentary.
Awards were presented on Saturday night as part of “Cosmic Arts Jubilee,” a free outdoor celebration that concluded with the screening of the documentary feature film “Richard Garriott: Man on a Mission.”
The Winners:
Student: “In This Place”
Directed by: Amy Bench
Austin, TX
13 min.
Synopsis: A young artist struggles to find a place in her newly globalized family. In a story enhanced with collage-like animation, Jane travels from the plains of Texas to the jungles of Africa in an attempt to bring them all together again.
Animation: “O Pintor de Ceos (Painter of the Skies)”
Directed by: Jorge Morais Valle
20 min.
Synopsis: From the darkness of the lost cliffs, a crazy painter, marked by his past, and his faithful assistant try to find a solution against perpetual storms. Sea is destroying their home. A magic boiler and some tormented ghosts will help them to find the light.
Narrative Short: “Junko’s Shamisen”
Directed by: Solomon Friedman
10 min.
A young Japanese orphan, and her mystical friend, exact poetic justice on a malevolent samurai lord.
Documentary Short: “A Song for Ourselves”
Directed by: Tadashi Nakamura
Los Angeles, CA
35 min.
Synopsis: An intimate journey into the life and music of Asian American Movement troubadour Chris Iijima.
Narrative Feature: “earthwork”
Directed by: Chris Ordal
Los Angeles, CA
93 min.
Synopsis: The true story of real life crop artist Stan Herd who plants his unique, rural art form in New York City with the help of a group of homeless characters on a plot of land owned by Donald Trump.
Documentary Feature: “A Good Day to Die”
Directed by: David Mueller, Lynn Salt
Beverly Hills, CA
92 min.
Synopsis: American Indian Movement (AIM) co-founder and leader Dennis Banks looks back at his life and the confrontational actions that changed the lives of Native Americans—and all indigenous peoples—forever.
Okie Short: “The Rounder Comes to Town”
Directed by: Adam Beatty
Norman, Oklahoma
35 min.
Synopsis: An Okie Gothic film based on a traditional song dating back to 1720. A lone drifter with no history meets the young and beautiful wife of the most powerful man in town.
Okie Feature: “The Rock ‘n’ Roll Dreams of Duncan Christopher”
Directed by: Jack Roberts
Tulsa, Oklahoma
94 min.
Synopsis: The awkward son of a rock star works through the suicide of his father in the brutal underground world of karaoke.
Grand Jury Narrative Feature: “Simmons on Vinyl”
Directed by: Mark Potts
Norman, Oklahoma
75 min.
Synopsis: With the help of his friends, Zeek searches for a vinyl record that could win the heart of the woman he desires.
Fact Sheet:
Pre-festival radio interview:
Grand Jury Documentary Feature: “Our House”
Directed by: Greg King
Brooklyn, NY
60 min.
Synopsis: Illegal squatters, anarchist radicals, devout Christians…welcome to Our House.
Founded in 2001, the deadCENTER Film Festival – named for its central geographic location — has grown into a premiere international summer event. DCFF is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization, providing year round events to support its mission to promote, encourage and celebrate the independent film arts. Visit to learn more.

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SIFF 2010 Dispatch: Grease Is the Word

grease.jpgYesterday I decided to take a break from seeing heavier films and have a little fun, so I took my daughter and her BFF (and her BFF’s dad, for good measure) to see the Grease Sing-along. Now, I am an unabashed fan of Grease; it’s one of the few films (besides Rocky Horror Picture Show) that I’ve seen at least 20 times. I had just turned 10 years old when Grease came out, and I promptly fell head-over-heels for John Travola.
In fact, you could say that Travolta in Grease was, in no small measure, responsible for me deciding to forego my then-ambition to become a nun. If boys like John Travolta were out there, how could you expect a good Catholic girl to stay that way? Like Sandy in the film, the Pink Ladies, the T-Birds, and Danny Zuko all woke up my inner bad girl, and that sweet “Sandra Dee” side of me took a backseat.
My BFF at the time was also hugely into Grease and for the summer of 1978, Grease was our sole obsession. We role played Grease endlessly, both as ourselves and with Barbie doll stand-ins. I colored a Ken doll’s hair with a black marker to turn him into Danny, and we made two Sandys — a “good” Sandy and a dolled-up “You’re the One That I Want” Sandy, and we would play and sing along with my Grease album for hours. So when I heard they were doing a Grease Sing-along, you can imagine my excitement. I’d already turned my teenager onto the awesomeness that is Grease a couple years ago, so she and her friend were all kinds of thrilled to get to go to the Sing-along with me.
As if being able to sing along at a Grease screening without anyone telling you to shut the hell up wasn’t great enough already, we happened to sit right in front of one of the festival guests, Dinah Manoff — one of THE Pink Ladies (she played Marty “Like the cherry” Maraschino), so not only did I get to sing along with Grease, but I had a Pink Lady right behind me singing along with her husband and their three young sons (for the record, she sang great).
The post-show Q&A with Manoff, who proved to be funny and charming and full of interesting tidbits about what it was like to be in Grease (Travolta was incredibly “hot” and at the first peak of his career, with Saturday Night Fever just in the can, and radiated energy; Jeff Conaway (Keneckie) was — not suprisngly — reportedly a bit of a ladies’ man during the shoot; producer Allan Carr was fun and flamboyant and was dollied onto the set every day to pep talk the cast about the previous day’s shoot; most of the cast was unsure about whether Olivia Newton-John was right for Sandy until they saw her dance rehearsal with Travola and the chemistry between then; and much of the cast still stays in regular contact, over 30 years later.
I really liked this Sing-along version of Grease. I’d been expecting just some karaoke-style lyrics along the bottom of the screen, but they played around and had fun with it and really integrated the addition of Sing-along features into the film itself in ways I wasn’t expecting. The packed house was completely into it — we even had folks show up cosplaying their favorite Grease characters and we all sang insanely loud and applauded ourselves voraciously when we felt we sounded particularly good. The energy was great, and the screening was a ton of fun. If it’s not already slated to come to your town, you can “Demand It!”
Then put on that Pink Ladies jacket, grab your own special T-Bird, pretend your politically correct Prius is Greased Lightning, and go have a blast.

SIFF 2010 Dispatch: I Kissed a Vampire

kissed_a_vampire.jpgTonight we had one of those fascinating covergences of events that seem to occur only when the planets and stars align in a particular way over a film festival. I’d planned to attend the 7PM screening of I Kissed a Vampire (I know, I know, but I’ve seen SO much serious drama at this fest, and it sounded fun), but when we arrived we were told that the film hadn’t arrived, so they would be screening Thunder Soul instead. Okay, sure, fine, whatever. I wasn’t feeling picky.
Then about 7PM a SIFF staffer came in and announced that they’d just gotten word that the plane with I Kissed a Vampire on it had just landed at Boeing Field, so they were going to delay the screening half an hour or so, in order to be able to show the film they had scheduled. The filmmakers, it seemed had had some problem with the server with the color corrected version crashing or something, and they hadn’t been able to restore that part for what we saw tonight, though it was the final cut. The lack of color correction definitely showed, but I’m not gonna ding them for that under the circumstances.
Mostly, I felt bad for the cast and crew; most of the cast, including High School Musical star Lucas Grabeel, who plays the lead role of Dylan, the bitten goody-two-shoes who doesn’t want to be the vampire, Adrian Slade as Sara, Dylan’s not-so-girl-next-door neighbor and girlfriend, and Drew Seely (who provided Zac Efron’s vocals for High School Musical) as Trey Sylvania (frankly, I think he’s as cute as Efron, and he can dance, so not sure why they just voice cast him, but nobody asked me at the time).
This had been a sold-out screening, we were told, before the issue with the film not being here, and now they had the director, producers, and full cast here for a very small crowd in a large venue. However, the crowd that was there was mostly generous and receptive, and there was a gaggle of teenage girls near me who were ecstatic to see Lucas! Grabeel! In person!
As for the film itself, it’s kind of a wannabe-Goth version of High School Musical (by which I mean, the kind of goth who buys all her goth-gear at Hot Topic) blended with the Glee style of people randomly breaking out into fantasy song-and-dance scenes for no apparent reason, and a touch of Rocky Horror, though these days it’s not such a huge deal for people to be wearing lingerie in public. There’s a LOT of singing and dancing (17 songs worth) and it drags a bit in the middle. Also, I was a little unclear on why turning more “vamp” — or, to use the film’s terms, becoming “The Bite,” entails suddenly acquiring extensive black guy-liner, but hey, vamps are goth, you know.
However, much like the first HS musical, it is what it is, and it’s comfortable there. I could see it playing well to the kids who went nuts over High School Musical, or being adapted for high school stage productions. Drew Seeley is just the kind of dark, artsy, hot guy who will appeal to girls who are into those kind of boys (I know this because I once was one of those girls, so you can trust me on that), and he makes a nice counter to Grabeel’s goody-goodyness.
A word about Adrian Slade — I liked her quite a lot, she has an interesting look and was quite good in this film for what it required of her. If she’s so inclined, though, I think she’d fare better career-wise gravitating toward more serious indie fare, following in the footsteps of Jess Weixler, who caught attention in Teeth and has since moved on to other things.

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It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon