This week, the first-ever Oak Cliff Film Festival kicks off in and around the Bishop Arts District. According to Texas Theatre/OCFF co-founder Barak Epstein, the fest is intended to be "a new hyper-local film festival that would all take place in one bikeable area." So bikeable, in fact, that Saturday features an "On the Trail of Lee Harvey Oswald" bike ride that takes cyclists from the site of the JFK assassination, following Oswald's escape route and ending up where he was finally and famously captured: the Texas Theatre.
"We really wanted to highlight some of the great venues around Oak Cliff," Epstein says, "in addition to the Texas Theatre, like the Kessler Theatre, the Bishop Arts Theatre, the Belmont Hotel, the Oak Cliff Cultural Center, Oil & Cotton, El Sibil Studio, the Turner House and the Dallas Zoo."
And highlight the OCFF does, providing as much diversity in its varied venues as it does in its programming. Aside from über indie films, there are parties, panels, music and more. Here's a day-by-day breakdown.Thursday, June 14Opening Night Film, The Ghastly Love of Johnny X, 7:30 p.m. Texas Theatre
I'll let Epstein take this one: "This is a really cool '50s throwback film that will appeal to both fans ofPhantom of the Paradise
. It's the last film to be shot on 35mm Kodak Plus-X B&W film stock as well as the last film to feature Kevin McCarthy (Invasion of the Body Snatchers
Opening Night Party, 10 p.m., Texas Theatre The opening night bash features rockin' rockabilly tunes from Dallas' own the King Bucks, the first of the nightly music showcases, which will include performances by New Fumes, Diamond Age, Neeks and Night Game.
Friday, June 15 Sunrise, 9 p.m., Texas Theatre It's not often you get the chance to see an iconic silent film from the 1920s in a historic theater built in the 1930s -- not to mention one from the legendary director of such no-talking classics as Nosferatu. Bonus: The film's score will be performed live. F.W. Murnau's Academy Award-winning 1927 black-and-white, silent classic will screen with a live score from Austin-based band My Education at the Texas Theatre, built in 1931, just four years after the film's release.
Saturday, June 16 Saturday is packed with films and events, from the LHO bike ride (11:30 a.m., Sixth Floor Museum) to the "Fearless Filmmaking" panel (2 p.m.) to the Cinema 16 Shorts (3:30 p.m., Oil and Cotton) and Music Videos (9 p.m., El Sibil Studio), plus plenty of other fantastic cinema-nerd stuff in between.
Love and a .45 (1994), 8 p.m., Texas Theatre Aside from local film fare, you'll get plenty of retro screenings at the OCFF, something we've come to know and love about the Texas Theatre. Those include this cult classic road movie, shot in Texas, directed by C.M. Talkington and starring Renée Zellweger and Rory Cochrane, one year before they made Empire Records together. The film will be presented in a rare 35mm format, with Talkington and Cochrane in attendance.
Other films you'll want to check out on this day: The indie drama On Down the Line (4 p.m. The Kessler), made by UNT film school alums and hot off a premiere at the Little Rock Film Festival. It was a featured film at last year's Texas Theatre Rough Cut Labs. The doc Your Brother, Remember? (5 p.m. The Bishop Arts Theater) is about two brothers who, over a 20-year span, remake shot-for-shot Jean-Claude Van Damme's Kickboxer. Don't let the title of this one fool you: The Comedy (5:30 p.m., The Texas Theater) features unexpected dramatic turns from Tim & Eric's Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim. The experimental found-footage flick V/H/S (11 p.m., Texas Theatre) features an amalgamation of today's youngest and hottest directors of the horror genre coming together to present one terrifying tale.
Sunday, June 17 "State of the Scene" Indie Filmmaking Panel, 2 p.m., Oak Cliff Cultural Center The fest provides plenty of free opportunities for filmmakers and fans alike; just look for the word "free" and make sure to RSVP. They include this free panel featuring C.M. Talkington (Love and a .45); Austin-based, award-winning director David Hartstein; Mike Malloy (Eurocrime!); veteran indie film producer Mike S. Ryan (named one of 10 producers to watch by Variety, with films at OCFF including The Comedy, The Turin Horse and Think of Me); and Paul Bunnell (The Ghastly Love of Johnny X). Moderated by two-time Independent Spirit Award nominee Bryan Poyser (Lovers of Hate).
Other films screening on the fest's final day: Juke Joint (12:45 p.m., Texas Theatre), a 1947 race film, shot and set in Dallas, that happened to be the last in a series directed by famed black filmmaker Spencer Williams and produced by Sack Amusement Enterprises, a white-owned, Dallas-based company that distributed race films to segregated movie theaters all over the States. Jeff is a doc about Jeffrey Dahmer as told through the eyes and mouths of the people who knew him during and after his killing spree (1 p.m., The Bishops Arts Theater). The Turin Horse (2:30 p.m., Texas Theatre) is legendary filmmaker Bela Tarr's final film. And of course the Community Shorts (5:30 p.m., The Kessler).
Closing Night Film: Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009) at the Dallas Zoo, 8:30 p.m. What better place to watch Wes Anderson's fantastic stop-motion fable than among the very woodland creatures it features? Epstein dropped a hint that a few celebrity guests may show up: "I've been told live badgers may be in attendance."
Tickets, passes and showtimes can be found here. Get 'em.
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