2019 Oak Cliff Film Fest To Feature Texas Premieres Of Danny Boyle’s Latest, Awkwafina’s Starring Turn And Area Production Team Sailor Bear’s Newest Work.
There may be bigger film festivals in North Texas, but none have historically had quite the flavor that the Oak Cliff Film Festival boasts. And heading into its eighth annual run, that much seems to be the case once again, as organizers have lined up a genuinely interesting, compelling and quirky lineup for its June 6 through June 9 offering this year.
Centered around the Texas Theatre but with screenings also showing at the Bishop Arts Theatre Center, the Kessler Theater and The Wild Detectives, this year’s deal promises screenings of 28 films, including 13 Texas premieres. And, per usual, the event will boast a decidedly music-oriented focus.
Perhaps most exciting on this front is the fest securing the Texas premiere of Oscar-winning director Danny Boyle’s upcoming Yesterday, which imagines what would happen if everyone (save for one struggling musician) suddenly forgot that The Beatles ever existed. The trailer, posted below, is as charming as all get out.
Some of the fest’s other music-oriented bookings come with a little more star power on hand: The DFW premiere of the suburban American satire Greener Grass on opening night, for which the Upright Citizens Brigade alumni Jocelyn DeBoer and Dawn Luebbe who star and direct the film will be in attendance, will be followed by a special DJ set from the ever-joyful Baltimore-based electronic musician Dan Deacon; the next night, meanwhile, will find area musicians E.B. The Younger (featuring ex-Midlake member Eric Pulido) and Jacob Metcalf performing “behind-the-screen” sets following the Texas Theatre’s DFW premiere of Strange Negotiations, a documentary that centers around Pedro The Lion frontman David Bazan’s difficulties coming to terms with his faith and that of his fans; and Saturday, June 8, will find the Nashville-based “deliberate ambient” act Coupler performing a live score for the 1933 silent gangster pop drama, Dragnet Girl.
It ain’t all just rock ‘n’ roll, though.
Other highlights at the fest include the DFW premiere of The Mountain (starring Jeff Goldblum as a lobotomist in the twilight of his career), the Texas premiere of A24’s The Farewell (featuring Crazy Rich Asians supporting act Awkwafina taking on the lead role in a film about a family’s matriarch’s slow passing; peep the trailer below) and the Texas premiere of Light From Light (the Jim Gaffigan-starring latest from David Lowery, Toby Halbrooks and James M. Johnston’s local Sailor Bear production house, about a failed paranormal investigation).
Of course, the above-listed films represent but a fraction of what the Oak Cliff Film Festival has in store this year in terms of screenings — and that’s not counting its plans as far as parties, networking events and so on.
Naturally, though, the screenings are the guts of the thing. Which brings us to the best part: Unlike other film festivals, which charge hundreds of dollars in exchange for the privilege, the Oak Cliff Film Festival offers individual passes for each of its screenings starting at just $11.50 a pop while supplies last. Head here to peep the schedule of events, to score your tickets and to learn more information.
But, first, check out the four-day fest’s own descriptions of its film roster below.
2019 Oak Cliff Film Festival Lineup
GREENER GRASS (USA, 96 mins)
Dir. Jocelyn DeBoer and Dawn Luebbe
DFW PREMIERE – Directors Jocelyn DeBoer and Dawn Luebbe in attendance.
Jill and Lisa live in their perfect homes in their idyllic suburban community with their happy families. Their days are spent in the grocery store exchanging fashion tips and at birthday parties complimenting their neighbors’ potluck dips. As the women desperately vie for validation, they struggle to maintain pleasantry and normalcy, even when things get weird. And they do get weird. When Jill gifts Lisa her newborn baby in an altruistic gesture, paranoia overwhelms Jill while her fears and anxieties quickly unravel.
THE MOUNTAIN (USA, 106 mins)
Dir. Rick Alverson
TEXAS PREMIERE – Writer Dustin Guy Defa in attendance.
The year is 1953. Andy, a young, introverted teenager, works as a Zamboni driver at an ice rink where his father is a flamboyant skating instructor. Andy’s mother is institutionalized. When Andy meets Dr. Wallace Fiennes (Jeff Goldblum), a famous lobotomist now in the sad decline of his career, the shy young man joins the doctor on a tour of rural mental hospitals. As Fiennes desperately evangelizes for the lobotomy procedure to drum up business, Andy becomes infatuated with a patient and her father and immerses himself in the surreal, burgeoning New Age movement of the American West.
STRANGE NEGOTIATIONS (USA, 91 mins)
Dir. Brandon Vedder
DFW PREMIERE – Director Brandon Vedder in attendance.
After renouncing his long-held evangelical Christian beliefs and walking away from critically-acclaimed band Pedro the Lion, David Bazan retreated into a solitary life of touring solo, struggling to rebuild his worldview and career from the ground-up, and trying to support his family of four. Strange Negotiations finds David a decade into his journey, during which he has become a reluctant prophet of sorts to young Americans struggling to reconcile their faith, politics, and doubts amidst the 2016 elections.
THE FAREWELL (USA, 98 mins)
Dir. Lulu Wang
After learning their beloved matriarch has terminal lung cancer, a family opts not to tell her about the diagnosis, instead scheduling an impromptu wedding-reunion back in China. Headstrong and emotional writer Billi (Awkwafina) rebels against her parents’ directive to stay in New York and joins the family as they awkwardly attempt to rekindle old bonds, throw together a wedding that only grandma is actually looking forward to, and surreptitiously say their goodbyes.
CASSANDRO, THE EXOTICO! (France, 73 mins)
Dir. Marie Losier
TEXAS PREMIERE – Star Cassandro in attendance.
After 26 years of spinning dives and flying uppercuts in the ring, Cassandro, the star of the gender-bending cross-dressing Mexican wrestlers known as the Exoticos, is far from retiring. But with dozens of broken bones and metal pins in his body, he must now reinvent himself.
SATANIC PANIC (USA, 91 mins)
Dir. Chelsea Stardust
TEXAS PREMIERE – Director Chelsea Stardust in attendance.
In the new FANGORIA movie SATANIC PANIC: A pizza delivery girl at the end of her financial rope has to fight for her life – and her tips – when her last order of the night turns out to be for high society Satanists in need of a virgin sacrifice.
THE GRAND BIZARRE (USA, 61 mins)
Dir. Jodie Mack
TEXAS PREMIERE – 35mm Print
A postcard from an imploded society. Bringing mundane objects to life to interpret place through materials, THE GRAND BIZARRE transcribes an experience of pattern, labor, and alien[-]nation[s]. A pattern parade in pop music pairs figure and landscape to trip through the topologies of codification. Following components, systems, and samples in a collage of textiles, tourism, language, and music, the film investigates recurring motifs and how their metamorphoses function within a global economy.
YESTERDAY (UK, 112 mins)
Dir. Danny Boyle
Jack Malik (Himesh Patel) is a struggling singer-songwriter in a tiny English seaside town whose dreams of fame are rapidly fading, despite the fierce devotion and support of his childhood best friend, Ellie (Lily James). Then, after a freak bus accident during a mysterious global blackout, Jack wakes up to discover that The Beatles have never existed — and he finds himself with a very complicated problem, indeed. Performing songs by the greatest band in history to a world that has never heard them, and with a little help from his steel-hearted American agent, Debra (Kate McKinnon), Jack’s fame explodes. But as his star rises, he risks losing Ellie — the one person who always believed in him. With the door between his old life and his new closing, Jack will need to get back to where he once belonged and prove that all you need is love.
SWORD OF TRUST (USA, 88 mins)
Dir. Lynn Shelton
When Cynthia & Mary (Jillian Bell & Michaela Watkins) show up to collect Cynthia’s inheritance from her deceased grandfather, the only item she’s received is an antique sword that was believed by her grandfather to be proof that the South won the Civil War. The two attempt to unload the object to a curmudgeonly pawnshop owner (Marc Maron) & his man-child sidekick Nathaniel (Jon Bass). When Mel and Nathaniel discover there’s a black market for the relic, the two pairs reluctantly join forces to sell this rarefied ‘prover item’ to the highest bidder. The adventure that ensues takes the four of them on a wild journey into the depths of conspiracy theory and and Southern disillusionment.
THE INFILTRATORS (USA, 95 mins)
Dir. Alex Rivera and Cristina Ibarra
This docu-thriller tells the true story of young immigrants who get arrested by Border Patrol, and put in a shadowy for-profit detention center – on purpose. Marco and Viri are members of the National Immigrant Youth Alliance, a group of radical Dreamers who are on a mission to stop deportations. And the best place to stop deportations, they believe, is in detention. However, when Marco and Viri try to pull off their heist – a kind of ‘prison break’ in reverse – things don’t go according to plan. By weaving together documentary footage of the real infiltrators with scripted re-enactments of the events inside the detention center, THE INFILTRATORS tells this incredible true story in a boundary-crossing new cinematic language.
JULES OF LIGHT AND DARK (USA, 90 mins)
Dir. Daniel Laabs
DFW PREMIERE – Director Daniel Laabs in attendance.
Maya has only recently emerged into full adulthood, but already there’s so much about her life that feels tentative, half-formed. Her relationship with her girlfriend Jules, though exciting, is more a source of mystery than security. Surrounded by free spirits, she longs to be tied down. Her state of hesitation comes to an outright halt after an accident leaves her battered and Jules nearly comatose. Help comes in the form of Freddy, a hard-drinking oilfield surveyor whose own will to change may be awakening for both of them.
TOO LATE TO DIE YOUNG (Chile/Brazil/Netherlands/Argentina/Qatar, 110 mins)
Dir. Dominga Sotomayor Castillo
Summer 1990. The dawn of a new, post-dictatorship era in Chile. In the mountains, a commune of like-minded idealists is determined to live in harmony off the land. But the outside world encroaches. Sofia, on the verge of adulthood, longs to be independent, in love, and living in the city with her singer mother. This atmospheric drama evokes the tumultuous emotions of growing up and the ephemeral promise of childhood and utopia.
KNIVES AND SKIN (USA, 111 mins)
Dir. Jennifer Reeder
An inexperienced local sheriff investigates a young girl’s disappearance in the rural Midwest. The ripple of fear and suspicion among the small-town residents destroys some relationships and strengthens others. This mystical teen noir presents coming of age as a life-long process and examines the profound impact of grief as the teenagers experience an accelerated loss of innocence while their parents are forced to confront adulthood failures.
A GREAT LAMP (USA, 77 mins)
Dir. Saad Qureshi
TEXAS PREMIERE – Director Saad Qureshi in attendance.
Max wheat pastes pictures of their dead grandma, Howie listens to fountain pennies and grants wishes, and Gene lives out of his car in exile from his family, when they each discover the prophetic coming of a fabled rocket launch in this heartfelt kaleidoscope of pain and friendship.
HAM ON RYE (USA, 85 mins)
Dir. Tyler Taormina
TEXAS PREMIERE – Director Tyler Taormina in attendance.
A bizarre rite of passage at the local deli determines the fate of a generation of teenagers, leading some to escape their suburban town and dooming others to remain.
LIGHT FROM LIGHT (USA, 82 mins)
Dir. Paul Harril
TEXAS PREMIERE – Producing Team and Director Paul Harril in attendance.
Shelia, a single mom and sometime paranormal investigator, is asked to investigate a possible “haunting” at a widower’s farmhouse in East Tennessee. After failing at investigating on her own, Shelia enlists Owen, her underachieving teenage son, and one of his classmates, a bright girl named Lucy. Together, Shelia, the widower, and the two teens attempt to understand the mystery.
DANIEL ISN’T REAL (USA, 96 mins)
Dir. Adam Egypt Mortimer
DFW PREMIERE – Director Adam Egypt Mortimer in attendance.
Traumatized 8-year old Luke invents an imaginary friend named Daniel who leads them both into a world of fantasy and imagination. After Daniel tricks Luke into doing something terrible, Luke is forced to lock him away. Twelve years later, Luke brings Daniel back — and he now appears as a charming, manipulative young man with a terrifying secret agenda.
ONE MAN DIES A MILLION TIMES (USA, 97 mins)
Dir. Jessica Oreck
Caught in the grip of a war-torn Russian winter, the city is starving to death. Despite their hunger, Alyssa and Maksim heroically work to preserve the treasures of the world’s most important seed bank – treasures that hold the key to the future of their country’s food supply – even though its sustenance could mean their survival.
RECORDER: THE MARION STOKES PROJECT (USA, 87 mins)
Dir. Matt Wolf
Marion Stokes secretly recorded television 24 hours a day for 30 years from 1975 until her death in 2012. For Marion taping was a form of activism to seek the truth, and she believed that a comprehensive archive of the media would be invaluable for future generations. Her visionary and maddening project nearly tore her family apart, but now her 70,000 VHS tapes are being digitized and they’ll be searchable online.
BRAINIAC: TRANSMISSIONS AFTER ZERO (USA, 108 mins)
Dir. Eric Mahoney
This feature length documentary explores the seminal 90’s rock band Brainiac from Dayton, OH and its creative force Tim Taylor. Just days before signing a major record contract, Taylor was killed in a bizarre auto accident leaving his family, friends and fans to pick up the pieces. The film celebrates the life and creativity of one of rock music’s unsung heroes and how people cope with extreme and sudden loss and life changes.
LOVE, ANTOSHA (USA, 92 mins)
Dir. Garret Price
TEXAS PREMIERE – Director Garret Price in attendance.
From a prolific career in film and television, Anton Yelchin left an indelible legacy as an actor. Through his journals and other writings, his photography, the original music he wrote, and interviews with his family, friends, and colleagues, this film looks not just at Anton’s impressive career, but at a broader portrait of the man. Love, Antosha explores his successes and his struggles, and lets viewers get to know this extraordinary person the world was cheated from seeing grow old.
WE ARE THE RADICAL MONARCHS (USA, 97 mins)
Dir. Linda Goldstein Knowlton
A group of tween girls chant into megaphones, marching in the San Francisco Trans March. Fists clenched high, they wear brown berets and vests showcasing colorful badges like “Black Lives Matter” and “Radical Beauty.” Meet the Radical Monarchs, a group of young girls of color at the front lines of social justice. Set in Oakland, a city with a deep history of social justice movements, the film documents the journey of the group as they earn badges for completing units including being an LGBTQ ally, preserving the environment, and disability justice. Started by two fierce, queer women of color, we follow them as they face the challenge to grow the organization, both pre/post the 2016 election.
OTHER MUSIC (USA, 85 mins) – Special Record Shop Screening at Top Ten Records!
Dir. Puloma Basu and Rob Hatch-Miller
TEXAS PREMIERE – Directors Puloma Basu and Rob Hatch-Miller in attendance.
Other Music was not just a record store in the village. It was a place where a generation discovered groundbreaking artists who became larger than life icons in the music scene. It was a destination for music lovers, musicians, and industry representatives, where bands were formed and careers were launched. Other Music was and remains a symbol of independent music. It was a place that not only spotlighted those in independent music, but also served as a great influence on the music scene in New York City. The film chronicles the store’s 20-year history, featuring bands such as Animal Collective, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Vampire Weekend, Interpol, TV On The Radio, and more. As retail stores continue to disappear, the film is an example of how the community and spirit of one much-loved independent record store lives on.
PAHOKEE (USA, 112 mins)
Dir. Ivete Lucas and Patrick Bresnan
DFW PREMIERE – Directors Ivete Lucas and Patrick Bresnan in attendance.
Four high-school students, Na’Kerria, Jocabed, Junior, and BJ, embark on their senior year in Pahokee, a small Florida town on the shores of Lake Okeechobee. The teens navigate all of the sometimes exciting, sometimes heartbreaking rite-of-passage rituals as they make profound decisions about their futures. As they do, the pressure of Pahokee’s economic hardships weighs heavily on their shoulders—the community has placed all hopes for opportunity on them, the next generation.
AMERICAN MOVIE (USA, 1999, 107 mins)
Dir. Chris Smith
The Oak Cliff Film Festival is proud to bring a 20th Anniversary Screening of this cult-favorite documentary. AMERICAN MOVIE is the story of filmmaker Mark Borchardt, his mission, and his dream. Spanning over two years of intense struggle with his film, his family, financial decline, and spiritual crisis, AMERICAN MOVIE is a portrayal of ambition, obsession, excess, and one man’s quest for the American Dream.
DRAGNET GIRL with Live Score Accompaniment (Japan, 1933, 100 mins)
Dir. Yasujirō Ozu
New Restoration – Live score accompaniment composed and performed by the Coupler Band.
The great Japanese filmmaker Yasujirō Ozu is best known for the stately, meditative domestic dramas he made after World War II. But during his first decade at Shochiku studios, where he dabbled in many genres, he put out a trio of precisely rendered, magnificently shot and edited silent crime films about the hopes, dreams and loves of small-time crooks. Heavily influenced in narrative and visual style by the American films Ozu adored, these movies are revelatory early examples of his cinematic genius. This formally accomplished and psychologically complex gangster tale pivots on the growing attraction between Joji, a hardened career criminal, and Kazuko, the sweet-natured older sister of a newly initiated young hoodlum—a relationship that provokes the jealousy of Joji’s otherwise patient moll, Tokiko. With effortlessly cool performances and visual inventiveness, DRAGNET GIRL is a bravura work from Yasujirō Ozu. Coupler is Deliberate Ambient Music from Nashville lead by Ryan Norris (Lambchop) which blends organic and electronic elements into enchanting, immersive sounds.
THE IRON GIANT (USA, 1999, 130 mins)
Dir. Brad Bird
*FREE Outdoor Screening
A young boy befriends a giant robot from outer space that a paranoid government agent wants to destroy in this BAFTA Children’s award winning film written by Texas filmmaker Tim McCanlies. The Iron Giant is also the first feature directed by Brad Bird (The Incredibles, Ratatouille) and features pre-Groot Vin Diesel voice acting! We dare you to keep your tears in with The Iron Giant spouts “I am not a gun.”
A TRIBUTE TO JONAS MEKAS AND CAROLEE SCHNEEMANN (65 mins):
WALDEN: REEL 1 (USA, 1969, 43 mins)
Dir. Jonas Mekas
Walden was Mekas’ first diary film, and it was edited as a collection of images gathered between
the years 1964 and 1969.
FUSES (USA, 1967, 22 mins)
Dir. Carolee Schneeman
A silent film of collaged and painted sequences of lovemaking between Schneemann and her then
partner, composer James Tenney; observed by the cat, Kitch.