deadCENTER Film Festival Hits the Mark

First Posted: June 15th, 2011


On Wednesday, June 8, the intersection of 4th and Broadway in Oklahoma City shut down to begin the 11th annual deadCENTER Film Festival. The once-humble independent film showcase no longer runs for one day at the City Arts Center, as it did in 2001, but instead spans five days with over 100 films in the lineup. Organizers of the event are expecting even more attendees than last years’ record of 10,000.

Diversity reigns supreme as films of all lengths and genres dominate the five theatres used. The five venues include the Oklahoma City Museum of Art, the IAO Gallery, the Ronald J. Norick Downtown Library, Harkins Bricktown, and the Kerr Auditorium within the Sandridge Energy Complex.


The importance of volunteers


The entire deadCENTER festival employs only two people. This means the majority of the work comes from the hands of volunteers. “We are a nonprofit, and would be absolutely nothing without the help of our incredible volunteers, “ Lance McDaniel, executive director of the deadCENTER festival, said at the opening ceremonies.

The festival launched with a free open air screening of “Talihina Sky”, a documentary about the Grammy-winning rock group Kings of Leon. Producer Casey McGrath and director Stephen Mitchell came along to promote the film.

Mitchell originally signed Kings of Leon and quickly fell in love with their story.

“A lot of their goal was to be accurate in telling their story,” he said. “The band is huge overseas, obviously, so people around the world have tried to tell their story and have gotten close, but I think the boys wanted someone who they trusted would tell it accurately.”

Since the majority of the band is from Oklahoma, and they have a family reunion in Talihina, Okla. every year, many relatives were in attendance.

Footage from the opening night of the 11th annual deadCENTER Film Festival

Large crowd gathered for Kings of Leon documentary


“I believe we have about 100 members of Kings of Leon’s family coming tonight,” Mitchell said. “Many of the relatives haven’t seen it yet. So we’re very excited to share it with them.”

One of the family members that came to the kickoff was Ivan Followill, father of Nathan, Caleb, and Jared Followill, three of the four musicians in Kings of Leon.

“I’m proud of ‘em. Seems like they’re just about everybody’s favorite band.”

Ivan paused for a moment and added, “It all happened so fast.”

The crowd of relatives was joined by hundreds of music fans and film buffs. The street was packed with lawn chairs, blankets, taco vendors, and filmmakers.

On Thursday and Friday filmgoers got a break from the summer heat, with movies showing only at the indoor locations. Patrons with festival passes were able to utilize a free limousine service to shuttle between theatres.


Festival’s close and economic impact


Another outdoor screening closed out the festivities Saturday night with the film “Elevate”. The film covers the story of four talented young men enrolled at a Senegalese basketball academy, who earn the opportunity to attend a prep school in America. The film elicited an emotional response from the large crowd, and wrapped up the festival on a high note.

Last year deadCENTER raked in an economic impact of approximately $1.14 million for Oklahoma City. The vast number of people  in attendance at this year’s festival hint a larger boost will follow this year. The organizers coupled an extreme variety of films and social activities to make deadCENTER a staple of Oklahoma culture for years to come.



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