Rock Docs, Teen Comedies and Dallas Directors Will Headline the Oak Cliff Film Festival

The director of Never Goin' Back will be at Oak Cliff Film Festival for a Q&A.EXPAND
The director of Never Goin' Back will be at Oak Cliff Film Festival for a Q&A.
courtesy Oak Cliff Film Festival
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The lineup for the Oak Cliff Film Festival will rock, literally.

Festival officials announced the lineup of feature-length movies, documentaries and short films for the 2018 Oak Cliff Film Festival at the Texas Theatre that runs June 14-17. The list consists of 25 feature-length films, including 10 that will make a Dallas-Fort Worth or statewide premiere at the Texas Theatre, and 40 short films.

Some of the new and classic films on the lineup include an eclectic mix of rock films, such as a documentary about rocker Joan Jett and a cult classic comedy from rock-umentarian director Penelope Spheeris, and an acclaimed Sundance Film Festival comedy from local director Augustine Frizzell, both of whom will be on hand for post-screening Q&As during the Oak Cliff Film Festival.

“The seventh year of the Oak Cliff Film Festival seeks to continue our tradition of showcasing the best of new independent film on the festival circuit," says Barak Epstein, the festival's co-founder and director who also founded and operates the Texas Theatre. "This year, we noticed a trend where more and more new voices were telling stories and more and more women filmmakers were getting their films made; this made the films the programmers were able to choose from perhaps more diverse than in previous years."

The four-day film festival will kick off with the opening screening of the documentary Bad Reputation about the life of rocker Joan Jett, best known for her solo and collaborative work with bands like The Runaway and The Blackhearts and hits like "I Love Rock 'n Roll," "I Hate Myself for Loving You," "Cherry Bomb" and (you guessed it) "Bad Reputation." The film takes a look at Jett's private life away from the stage spotlight and explores the work ethic and dedication to her music that turned her into such a rock icon. It shows interviews with Jett, Debbie Harry, Iggy Pop and Billie Joe Armstrong.

Its director, Kevin Kerslake, has directed music videos for four decades for groups such as Faith No More, Nirvana, Prince, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Stone Temple Pilots, Henry Rollins, Rancid and Kid Cudi. He's also directed documentary films on other music groups, including 1997's We're Outta Here about. Bad Reputation premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in Utah.

The closing night screening will bring the festival back to its Dallas roots with the buddy comedy film Never Goin' Back, starring Maia Mitchell, Cammi Morrone and Kyle Mooney from Saturday Night Live and the indie film Brigsby Bear. Frizzell wrote and directed Never Goin' Back, which she shot in 2013 around Dallas, and also premiered her movie at this year's Sundance Film Festival. She will also conduct a Q&A via Skype after the screening.

Never Goin' Back tells a coming-of-age story about two high school dropouts who skip their diner waitress jobs for a birthday celebration on the beaches of Galveston, where they find nothing but trouble, including a drug deal gone bad, a home invasion and some time in juvenile detention.

Frizzell told the Dallas Observer in December before she brought her film to Park City, Utah, that the main characters are inspired by her and people she knew in her own hard teenage years living on the lower-income side of Dallas. She says she felt it was time to bring those kinds of characters into a teen comedy adventure.

"I wanted to make a movie about people like me and kids who grew up like me that was not a drama," Frizzell says. "So many times, you have lower economic kids who come from a lower socioeconomic background, and it's always full of drama and parental conflict, and there's drugs and it's a such a big deal and lives are ruined, but that's not always the case. Sometimes the things that are most important about that hectic life at that age are the friends you have around you."

The Oak Cliff Film Festival will also feature a screening of the punk comedy thriller Dudes, directed by Spheeris, best known for helming rock films such as Wayne's World, Suburbia and her three-part music documentary series, The Decline of Western Civilization. She will be at the Texas Theatre for a Q&A after her movie's screening.

Spheeris made the film in the mid-'80s. It stars Jon Cryer and Daniel Roebuck as young New York City punk rockers who finds themselves taking a detour for revenge during a road trip to California when a violent biker murders one of them. The film also stars Fear frontman Lee Ving, the bassist Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Doors drummer John Densmore.

The film, first released in 1987, did not receive a wide level of distribution because studios claimed they didn't know how to reach young punks with a violent road trip movie. However, the film's release on home video helped it achieve an underground cult success, and it found a home on DVD from the distributor Shout Factory in 2017.

Dudes will be one of two festival films featuring Spheeris' work. The Texas Theatre will also show the documentary Half the Picture, directed by Amy Adrion, that explores the hard work and unique challenges of female film directors through interviews with women such as Spheeris, Ava DuVernay, Jill Soloway, Lena Dunham and Miranda July. Spheeris will conduct Q&As for both films.

Twenty-two other films are scheduled during this year's Oak Cliff Film Festival, including feature-length narratives like the dark comedy Birds Without Feathers, the thriller Don't Leave Home, the African dramatic thriller I Am Not a Witch, the drama Tigers Are Not Afraid from Mexico, the Colombia drama Virus Tropical, based on the graphic novel Powerpaola, and the Danish gritty drama Winter Brothers. The festival will also present a restored screening of the historic drama The Passion of Joan of Arc, directed by Carl Theodor Dreyer, with a live score composed by electronic artist George Sarah and performed in the theater by Curtis Heath and his orchestra.

Festival documentaries include the experimental visuals of Black Mother, which provides portraits of prostitutes in Jamaica; Gospel of Eureka, which looks at a small Southern town's gospel drag shows; Ingrid, about the story of a famous Dallas fashion designer who became a hermit; the Canadian documentary Maison Du Bonheur, about the day-to-day life of Parisian astrologer Juliane Sellam; Milford Graves Full Mantis, about percussionist Milford Graves; and Optuntia, about director David Fenster's attempts to learn more about the life of conquistador turned shamanic healer Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca.

Epstein says the festival's crew is excited to bring these films to Dallas next month.

"I think we have our best lineup yet," Epstein says. "It's an honor to highlight great works from Texas filmmakers, as well as filmmakers across the globe, and continuously bring their films to the great Dallas neighborhood of Oak Cliff."

Visit oakclifffilmfestival.com for a full listing of films, showtimes, and ticket prices and availability. 

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