The reason you go to film festivals like the Oak Cliff Film Festival is because you want to see films. Unlike other fan gatherings, you're not there to wait in ungodly lines for an awkward handshake with a celebrity, blow a week's pay on an overpriced collectible or work your way into some inner circle of stardom. You're there to sit in a seat that folds up, put your phone on silent and spend 90 minutes or more getting lost in a filmmaker's vision of storytelling.
The eighth annual Oak Cliff Film Festival just released its list of 28 feature-length films and 36 short films of favored genres like music documentaries, indie films starring famous names and debuts from future filmmaking legends. The festival runs from Thursday through Sunday, June 6-9 at various screening locations, including the Texas Theatre, The Wild Detectives bookstore, the Bishop Arts Theatre Center and The Kessler Theater, featuring new feature-length films and shorts as well as screenings of old favorites such as a free outdoor screening of director Brad Bird's animated sci-fi adventure The Iron Giant and a 35mm print of documentary director Chris Smith's beloved classic American Movie.
Here's just a taste of some of the newer films you'll be able to see in an actual movie theater. So if you're used to watching movies in your home on Netflix, Hulu or some illegal torrent sites, remember to put on pants before you head out the door.
Greener Grass (8 p.m. Thursday, June 6 at the Texas Theatre)
Everyone knows the suburbs are a fake place of outward manners that mask true feelings of resentment and contempt. It's like living in a Frank Capra film where everyone is trying to escape without going through the hassle of actually moving. First-time feature length filmmakers Jocelyn DeBoer and Dawn Luebbe explore an even more bizarre version of the idolized American dream with Greener Grass, a dark comic tale based on the short film of the same name. Two suburban families engage in a Kovacs-ian pissing match to be the better brood for their children, including a daughter one mom gives to another after lavishing her with compliments, kids who inexplicably turn into pets and a mom who pretends to be pregnant. The film stars The Good Place's D'Arcy Carden, Saturday Night Live's Beck Bennett and local actor Julian Hilliard, who practically stole the dark spotlight away from his adult co-stars in the cult Netflix horror series The Haunting of Hill House. Writer and directors DeBoer and Luebbe will be in attendance at the screening.
The Mountain (7 p.m. Friday, June 7 at the Texas Theatre)
Tye Sheridan and Jeff Goldblum may be two of the hottest acting commodities in Hollywood right now thanks to the success of the X-Men movies and the long-awaited big-screen version of Ready Player One and in Goldblum's case, because he's Jeff Freakin' Goldblum. However, they still make time to create some thought-provoking art for filmgoers, including this unsettling tale from writer-director Dustin Guy Defa and director Rick Alverson. Sheridan and Goldblum's paths cross in one of the most unusual ways: Sheridan plays a Zamboni driver who loses his mother to an insane asylum following a lobotomy performed by a legendary lobotomist played by Goldblum, whose career is in decline. (Got all that? There's more.) The mad doctor who tries to convince the medical world that cutting out a portion of a human's brain is still a viable treatment option takes the young, grieving teen under his wing for a tour of rural hospitals when Sheridan falls in love with one of his about-to-be-lobotomized victims. Writer Defa will be in attendance at the festival.
Strange Negotiations (9:15 p.m. Friday, June 7 at the Texas Theatre)
Most music documentaries or biopics have fallen into a predictable routine. A talented musician comes from humble beginnings to slowly rise to stardom while their personal demons push them to explore the limits of their addictions until they hit rock bottom and rise from their chemical dependencies to become the legend they were always meant to be. Yawn. David Bazan has a deep and unique story to tell that's nothing like the average tale of a musician's rise-fall-and-rise-before-falling-and-rising-again type of story. The former creative force behind the indie rock group Pedro the Lion decides to abandon the project that made him an indie music force, along with a lifetime of evangelical Christian belief. He embarks on a solo career and a view of the world through fresh eyes, and the cameras follow him after a 10-year journey of struggling and soul-searching. Director Brandon Vedder will be at the festival. The Texas Theatre will also host a special "Behind the Screen" concert show with live performances from E.B. The Younger + Jacob Metcalf.
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The Farewell (8:30 p.m. Sunday, June 9 at the Texas Theatre)
What's a film festival without a good tear-jerker that reminds you of the fragility of mortality and the importance of sharing love while you can still feel it? Director Lulu Wang delivers all that and more with The Farewell, a movie that bills itself as a moving story about family that's "based on an actual lie," according to its trailer. Actress and hip-hop star Awkwafina plays the headstrong daughter in a Chinese family who learns that her grandmother is dying from lung cancer but doesn't know about it, so she defies her family's wishes and joins her family in China for a wedding/reunion designed to give her grandmother one last happy experience for herself and one last goodbye for everyone else.
Yesterday (3 p.m. Sunday, June 9 at the Bishop Arts Theatre Center)
What happens when the world suffers some kind of cosmic accident where the ears of humankind have never heard the songs of The Beatles? For starters, we wouldn't have to deal with those insufferable, vinyl sniffing music snobs who think that just having one of their songs on your Google Play account is akin to some kind of musical hate crime. On the other hand, we wouldn't have some of the most beautiful and inspiring songs that have driven the musical world to new heights of expression and beauty. A struggling musician played by Himesh Patel wakes up in just such a nightmare and uses the songs of the Fab Four to drive his own musical career to new heights of global stardom and untold success until he realizes he has to choose between becoming a musical icon or becoming the love of his closest and most supportive friend's life in this surreal dramatic comedy from acclaimed director Danny Boyle.