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.

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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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Dear Irene Cho, I will miss your energy and passion; your optimism and joy; your kindness towards friends, colleagues, strangers, struggling filmmakers, or anyone who randomly crossed your path and needed a hand. My brothers and I have long considered you another sibling in our family. Our holiday photos – both western and eastern – have you among all the cousins, in-laws, and kids… in the snow, sun, opening presents, at large dinner gatherings, playing Monopoly, breaking out pomegranate seeds and teaching us all how to dance Gangnam style. Your friendship and loyalty meant a great deal to me: you were the loudest cheerleader when I experienced victories and you were always ready with sushi when I had disappointments. You had endless crazy ideas which always seemed impossible but you would will them into existence. (Like that time you called me and suggested that we host a brunch for newly elected mayor of LA, Eric Garcetti because “he is going to president one day.” We didn’t have enough time or funding, of course, only your desire to do it. So you did, and I followed.) You created The Daily Buzz from nothing and it survived on your steam in spite of many setbacks because you believed in a platform for emerging filmmakers from all nations. Most of all, you were a wonderful mother to your son, Ethan, a devoted wife to your husband, and a wonderful sibling and daughter to your family. We will all miss how your wonderful smile and energy lit up the room and our lives. Rest in peace, Irene.
~ Rose Kuo Remembers Irene Cho on Facebook

“You know, I was never a critic. I never considered myself as a film critic. I started doing short films, writing screenplays and then for awhile, for a few years I wrote some film theory, including some film criticism because I had to, but I was never… I never had the desire to be a film critic. I never envisioned myself as a film critic, but I did that at a period of my life when I thought I kind of needed to understand things about cinema, understand things about film theory, understand the world map of cinema, and writing about movies gave me that, and also the opportunity to meet filmmakers I admired.

“To me, it was the best possible film school. The way it changed my perspective I suppose is that I believe in this connection between theory and practice. I think that you also make movies with ideas and you need to have ideas about filmmaking to achieve whatever you’re trying to achieve through your movies, but then I started making features in 1986 — a while ago — and I left all that behind.

“For the last three decades I’ve been making movies, I’ve been living, I’ve been observing the world. You become a different person, so basically my perspective on the world in general is very different and I hope that with every movie I make a step forward. I kind of hope I’m a better person, and hopefully a better filmmaker and hopefully try to… It’s very hard for me to go back to a different time when I would have different values in my relationship to filmmaking. I had a stiffer notion of cinema.”
~ Olivier Assayas