The Oak Cliff Film Festival just announced the full lineup of its 7th annual run, and you can’t help but notice a theme in its programming. It may stem from an increase in women making films, from those same films getting more circulation and traction, or from an organic response to the current climate, but one thing’s for sure: ladies have a strong— and loud— presence.
Let’s dig in.
Opening the event is Bad Reputation, the new Sundance-selected doc tribute to Runaways’ guitarist and vocalist, Joan Jett. Directed by Kevin Kerslake, who’s shot music videos for everyone from Sonic Youth to Nirvana, this leather-rich feature was picked up for distribution by Magnolia. See it here first to pay homage to a true rock legend. And while you’re at it, be sure to flip Kim Fowley the bird.
Festival closer is the long-awaited DFW debut of Augustine Frizzell’s feature, the live-hard party flick, Never Goin’ Back. It won hearts and tested stomachs in the midnight categories of Sundance and SXSW before getting picked up by indie-distro darling A-24. You’ll want to secure a seat for this Sailor Bear-produced, shot-around-here tale of raunchy bestfriendship, especially to applaud a Skyped-in Frizzell, who’s currently directing a pilot for the Sam Levinson-penned TV series, Euphoria. Here’s our profile on the director.
In repertory, get facetime with France’s greatest martyr/heroine/armed warrior in the newly-remastered The Passion of Joan of Arc, set to a live score. It’s a program more than a year in the works, and it brings together a George Sarah composition, performed by Curtis Heath and his orchestra.
Whether you owe your core identity to Penelope Spheeris’ three-part rock doc, The Decline of Western Civilization, from her box office hits like Wayne’s World, or through some delicious combination of the two, you’ll rush the stage to greet her at OCFF 2018. She’ll be onsite presenting her newly restored, almost-lost-forever, 1987 punk rock western DUDES.
Speaking of dudes, don’t worry: Buzzard filmmaker Joel Potrykus is back to give balance to the force with his new apocalyptic tale of survival, Pac Man and milk vomit, Relaxer, which Indiewire called a “masterpiece of depraved ‘90s nostalgia” in a five-star review. And in a nice two-part take, you get some quality time with one of your favorite filmmakers Hal Ashby (Harold and Maude, The Landlord) both as subject matter in Amy Scott’s aptly named tribute feature, Hal, and in the repertory section. That’s where you’ll find Ashby’s ever-baffling and flat-out charming Peter Sellers-fronted film, Being There.
There’s a lot more, like the Meow Wolf doc that debuted at SXSW. The new Zellner Brothers western, Damsel, scored by Austin’s favorite band featuring a theremin, Octopus Project. And a deep dive into why any festival lineup with this many female-helmed films is newsworthy, with Half the Picture, a doc consisting of interviews of high profile women directors — oh, and it’ll include a Q&A between Penelope Spheeris and Seed & Spark Founder (and new addition to OCFF programming team), Emily Best.
See the full schedule list below. Badges are available now. Individual tickets will be released at a later date.
OAK CLIFF FILM FESTIVAL 2018 FEATURE PROGRAM
OPENING NIGHT SELECTION
BAD REPUTATION (USA, 95 mins)
Dir. Kevin Kerslake
TEXAS PREMIERE – Director Kevin Kerslake and writer/editor Joel Marcus in attendance
Joan Jett is so much more than “I Love Rock ’n’ Roll.” It’s true, she became mega-famous from the number-one hit, and that fame intensified with its endless play on MTV. But that staple of popularity can’t properly define a musician. Jett put her hard work in long before the fame, ripping it up onstage as the backbone of the hard-rock legends The Runaways, influencing many musicians—both her cohort of punk rockers and generations of younger bands—with her no-nonsense style.
CLOSING NIGHT SELECTION
NEVER GOIN’ BACK (USA, 85 mins)
Dir. Augustine Frizzell
DFW PREMIERE – Producers Toby Halbrooks, James M. Johnston, Liz Cardenas in attendance w/ a special Skype-in from director Augustine Frizzell
BFFs Angela (Maia Mitchell) and Jessie (Cami Morrone) are high school dropouts working dead-end waitressing jobs in the same shitty diner. Their dream vacation to sunny Galveston, Texas, is only a few shifts away. But after a drug deal goes bad and their home is invaded—and they have to serve a short stint in juvenile detention—their beach trip is in serious jeopardy. They’ll have to use every bit of guile their perpetually buzzed teenage brains can muster as they try to get (relatively) rich quick while wandering suburban Dallas.
NARRATIVE FEATURE COMPETITION
BIRDS WITHOUT FEATHERS (USA, 84 mins)
Dir. Wendy McColm
DFW PREMIERE – Director Wendy McColm in attendance
Desperate for human interaction, six emotionally damaged individuals put self respect on the line, shedding their disillusionment in a last grasp for happiness. Birds Without Feathers is a cruel-world dark comedy populated by struggling Instagram stars, Russian cowboys, Self-help gurus and more, as their lives crash and collide in astounding and awkward ways.
DON’T LEAVE HOME (USA, 86 mins)
Dir. Michael Tully
DFW PREMIERE – Director Michael Tully in attendance
Melanie Thomas is an American artist whose latest show recounts the infamous Irish urban legend of Father Alistair Burke, who painted a portrait of 8-year-old Siobhan Callahan in 1986. Days later, Siobhan went missing on the very morning that her figure miraculously vanished from the painting as well. Though absolved of any wrongdoing, Burke abandoned the priesthood and went into self-exile. After receiving a bad review before her opening, Melanie is contacted by the reclusive Burke, who offers to fly her to Ireland to create a new sculpture that he will help her to sell while she’s there. Telling no one where she’s going, Melanie never stops to consider that some urban legends are real.
I AM NOT A WITCH (UK, ZAMBIA, 93 mins)
Dir. Rungano Nyoni
When eight-year-old Shula turns up alone and unannounced in a rural Zambian village, the locals are suspicious. A minor incident escalates to a full-blown witch trial, where she is found guilty and sentenced to life on a state-run witch camp. There, she is tethered to a long white ribbon and told that if she ever tries to run away, she will be transformed into a goat. As the days pass, Shula begins to settle into her new community, but a threat looms on the horizon. Soon she is forced to make a difficult decision – whether to resign herself to life on the camp, or take a risk for freedom.
TIGERS ARE NOT AFRAID (Mexico, 83 mins)
Dir. Issa López
Estrella (Paola Lara), a ten-year-old girl living in Mexico, finds herself the owner of three wishes soon after her mother disappears. After her wish first – the bring her mother back wish – has some unexpectedly frightening repercussions, she finds herself on the streets. Before too long, Estrella partners up with a young boy, El Shine (Juan Ramón López), and his band of orphaned boys. The newly formed group find themselves at war with the local cartel, witnessing and enduring things that no child should ever have to.
VIRUS TROPICAL (Colombia, 96 mins)
Dir. Santiago Caicedo
Born in a not-so-conventional family, Paola grows up between Ecuador and Colombia and finds herself unable to fit in any mold. With a unique feminine vision of the world, she will have to fight against prejudice and struggle for her independence while her universe is struck by a series of crises. Based on the graphic novel by Powerpaola.
WINTER BROTHERS (Denmark, Iceland, 94 mins)
Dir. Hlynur Pálmason
We follow two brothers working in the harsh environment of a rural chalk-mining community during a cold winter. Younger brother Emil, who distills moonshine made from stolen chemicals from the factory, is an outsider, an oddball, who made a conscious choice for loneliness and is only accepted by the mining community due to his older brother Johan. When a fellow worker becomes sick, the moonshine and Emil are prime suspects. Gradually a violent feud erupts between him and the tightly-knit mining community. Revenge, loneliness, and lack of love pervade this modern brother odyssey.
DOCUMENTARY FEATURE COMPETITION
BLACK MOTHER (USA, 77 mins)
Dir. Khalik Allah
Part film, part baptism, director Khalik Allah mixes film formats from Super 8mm to HD, while experimenting with voice over audio techniques that cast his view between the prostitutes and churches of Jamaica. Black Mother creates a visual prayer of indelible portraits and an intimate polyphonic symphony.
GOSPEL OF EUREKA (USA, 79 mins)
Dir. Donal Mosher and Michael Palmieri
Love, faith and civil rights collide in a southern town as evangelical Christians and drag queens step into the spotlight to dismantle stereotypes. The film takes a personal, and often comical look at negotiating differences between religion and belief through performance, political action, and partnership. Gospel drag shows and passion plays set the stage for one hell of a show.3-4 sentence summary here.
INGRID (USA, 52 mins)
Dir. Morrisa Maltz
TEXAS PREMIERE – Filmmaker Morrisa Maltz in attendance
Ingrid tells the story of a prominent Dallas fashion designer in the 80s–who dropped her life and ran off to the woods in order to pursue a personal and creative one. She has since become a total hermit and spends her time, creating clay sculptures and art out of rocks from the nearby creek. Ingrid peels off the layers of this woman’s persona, questioning what would drive a successful Texas fashion designer to immerse herself in nature to create and become an entirely self sufficient woman of the woods.
MAISON DU BONHEUR (Canada, 62 mins)
Dir. Sofia Bohdanowicz
Maison du bonheur is a documentary that studies the day-to-day life of a Parisian astrologer, Juliane Sellam, who has been residing in the same Montmartre apartment for over 50 years. As we listen to her muse about her life as an astrologer, Sellam moves through her daily routine: making her morning coffee, watering plants, putting on makeup. Each segment is narrated by Sellam or the filmmaker herself, slowly constructing a dual portrait of two very different but equally charming women.
MILFORD GRAVES FULL MANTIS (USA, 91 mins)
Dir. Jake Meginsky and Neil Young
DFW PREMIERE – Filmmaker Jake Meginsky in attendance
This is the first ever feature-length portrait of renowned percussionist Milford Graves, exploring his kaleidoscopic creativity and relentless curiosity.Graves tells stories of discovery, struggle and survival, ruminates on the essence of ‘swing,’ activates electronic stethoscopes in his basement lab to process the sound of his heart, and travels to Japan where he performs at a school for children with autism, igniting the student body into an ecstatic display of spontaneous collective energy. Oscillating from present to past and weaving intimate glimpses of the artist’s complex cosmology with blistering performances from around the globe, MILFORD GRAVES FULL MANTIS is cinema full of fluidity, polyrhythm and intensity, embodying the essence of Graves’ music itself.
OPUNTIA (Mexico/USA, 60 mins)
Dir. David Fenster
DFW PREMIERE – Filmmaker David Fenster in attendance
In 1528 Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca crossed the Gulf of Mexico on a raft made of melted armor and slaughtered horses. Over the next eight years, experiences with various Native American groups transformed him from conquistador to shamanic healer. When he returned to Spain he wrote La Relación, a chronicle of his experiences in the “New World”. Using these writings and with help from a psychic medium, David Fenster (director) attempts to communicate with Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca through a prickly pear cactus, also known as Opuntia, the plant that saved him from starvation.
BISBEE ‘17 (USA, 112 mins)
Dir. Robert Greene
An old mining town on the Arizona-Mexico border finally reckons with its darkest day: the deportation of 1200 immigrant miners exactly 100 years ago. Townspeople confront this violent, misunderstood past by staging dramatic recreations of these devastating events. Directed by the Townspeople themselves, these recreations show the personal history of the families affected by the deporations on the 100th anniversary of their occurence.
DAMSEL (USA, 112 mins)
Dir. David Zellner and Nathan Zellner
DFW PREMIERE – Film producers and composers The Octopus Project in attendance
It’s the age of The Wild West, circa 1870. An affluent pioneer, Samuel Alabaster (Robert Pattinson) ventures deep into the American wilderness to reunite with and marry the love of his life, Penelope (Mia Wasikowska). For his journey he brings Butterscotch, a miniature horse intended as a wedding present for his bride, and enlists drunkard Parson Henry (David Zellner) to conduct the ceremony. As they traverse the lawless frontier their once simple journey grows treacherous, and the lines between hero, villain, and damsel are blurred.
HAL (USA, 90 mins)
Dir. Amy Scott
In the 1970’s Hal Ashby spent 9 years pushing Hollywood norms directing an unconventional, uncompromising string of remarkable films — including The Landlord (1970), Harold and Maude (1971), The Last Detail (1973) and Being There (1979) — that influenced generations of filmmakers to follow. His everlasting legacy on cinema is evident by the group of talented interview subjects including David O. Russell, Judd Apatow, Allison Andres and Jeff and Beau Bridges. However he failed to sustain success fighting for the importance of art and socially consciousness stories against the looming weight of Hollywood’s profit driven machine. HAL is a celebration of his lifework.
HALF THE PICTURE (USA, 94 mins)
Dir. Amy Adrion
DFW PREMIERE – Penelope Spheeris in attendance for Q/A with Seed & Spark Founder Emily Best
HALF THE PICTURE consists of interviews with high profile women directors, including Ava DuVernay, Jill Soloway, Lena Dunham, Catherine Hardwicke, Miranda July, Penelope Spheeris and many more. These artists discuss how they made their first features, how they transitioned to studio films or television, how they balance a demanding directing career with family, and the challenges and joys along the way. In addition, experts on gender inequality in Hollywood, including the ACLU’s Melissa Goodman, Vanity Fair’s Rebecca Keegan, and USC’s Dr. Stacy Smith, weigh in on the magnitude of this issue as women are shut out, across the board, of an industry that systemically denies women’s expression and point of view.
MEOW WOLF: ORIGIN STORY (USA, 100 mins)
Dir. Jilann Spitzmiller and Morgan Capps
DFW PREMIERE – Filmmakers Morgan Capps and Jilann Spitzmiller in attendance
A group of artists in Santa Fe, NM become a DIY collective called Meow Wolf. Their immersive, large-scale exhibitions crack open a profitable niche in the arts industry, even as their social mission is challenged by the demands of rapid success. The group’s members navigate fracture and loss for years in pursuit of their idealistic vision. When they spark the interest of George R. R. Martin and receive his support to take over an old bowling alley, Meow Wolf builds a massive exhibition with over 140 artists working at a breakneck pace. With the wild success of the House of Eternal Return, Meow Wolf now faces its own internal turmoil as it begins to change the lives of creatives everywhere.
PITY (Greece, 97 mins)
Dir. Babis Makridis
A miserable middle aged man enjoys only one thing in life, the sorrow from others. After his wife re-emerges from a long coma he’s willing to do anything to continue to evoke this emotion from those around him. Addicted to misery, this man seeks to maintain the only feeling to give him pleasure, pity.
RELAXER (USA, 91 mins)
Dir. Joel Potrykus
DFW PREMIERE – Director Joel Potrykus, Cinematographer Adam J. Minnick and actor Andre Hyland in attendance
Doom and gloom are on the way. The Y2K apocalypse can’t be stopped. Abbie’s older brother issues him the ultimate challenge before it goes down: stay on the couch until he beats the infamous Billy Mitchell record on Pac-Man by getting past level 256. No getting up, no matter what. No quitting. Abbie must survive inside a rotten living room with no food or water, and numbnut friends and toxic gas getting in his face. Luckily, Abbie’s secret 3D glasses begin to give him new abilities, controlling the powers of his tiny universe.
SKATE KITCHEN (USA, 100 mins)
Dir. Crystal Moselle
TEXAS PREMIERE – Members of the filmmaking team in attendance
Introverted skateboarder Camille befriends “The Skate Kitchen,” an all-girl skateboarding crew in New York City. She finds the home she never had with her mother in Long Island as she becomes part of the in-crowd. They quickly accept her into this wild new world of trick-shot videos and their own mania filled, underground, New York subculture. However this new friendship becomes tricky to navigate when she falls for a boy skateboarder from a rival group.
BEING THERE (USA, 1979, 130 mins)
Dir. Hal Ashby
In one of his most finely tuned performances, Peter Sellers plays the pure-hearted, childlike Chance, a gardener who is forced into the wilds of Washington, D.C., when his wealthy guardian dies. Shocked to discover that the real world doesn’t respond to the click of a remote, Chance stumbles into celebrity after being taken under the wing of a tycoon (Melvyn Douglas, in an Oscar-winning performance), who mistakes his protégé’s horticultural mumblings for sagacious pronouncements on life and politics, and whose wife (Shirley MacLaine) targets Chance as the object of her desire. Being There is both deeply melancholic and hilarious; a the culmination of Hal Ashby’s remarkable string of films in the 1970s, and a carefully modulated examination of the ideals, anxieties, and media-fueled delusions that shaped American culture during that decade and still ring true today in 2018.
DUDES (USA, 1987, 90 mins)
Dir. Penelope Spheeris
New DCP with Director Penelope Spheeris in attendance
Penelope Spheeris’s 5th feature film which came after her punk soap SUBURBIA and was “released” the year before her magnum opus DECLINE OF WESTERN CIVILIZATION PART II; DUDES, was never given much of a proper release. Distributors and exhibitors were confused on how to market the punk rock western and it quickly excited theaters. The home video VHS was its last available version until this years HD remaster by SHOUT FACTORY. The film, which features early Cinematography from future three time Oscar winner Robert Richardson and a fantastic punk / metal soundtrack featuring The VANDALS, JANES ADDICTION and MEGADETH exists in a late 80’s ahead of its time capsule.
THE PASSION OF JOAN OF ARC with Live Score Accompaniment (France, 1928, 81 mins)
Dir. Carl Theodor Dreyer
New Restoration with live score accompaniment composed by indie electronic artist George Sarah, performed by Curtis Heath and his orchestra
Spiritual rapture and institutional hypocrisy are brought to stark, vivid life in one of the most transcendent achievements of the silent era. Chronicling the trial of Joan of Arc in the final hours leading up to her execution, Danish master Carl Theodor Dreyer depicts her torment with startling immediacy, employing an array of techniques—including expressionistic lighting, interconnected sets, and painfully intimate close-ups— to immerse viewers in her subjective experience. Anchoring Dreyer’s audacious formal experimentation is a legendary performance by Renée Falconetti, whose haunted face channels both the agony and the ecstasy of martyrdom. Thought to have been lost to fire, the film’s original version was miraculously found in perfect condition in 1981 in a Norwegian mental institution, heightening the mythic status of this widely revered masterwork.
VIP Badges and tickets for individual screenings are available for purchase at OakCliffFilmFestival.com. Tickets for individual screenings will also be available at the door for each venue at a later date.