Amid an increasingly crowded local film festival landscape, the Oak Cliff Film Festival continues to faithfully serve arthouse devotees with a carefully curated offbeat lineup each June.
This year’s eighth annual event is no exception, with plenty of diverse options to satisfy indie sensibilities, from features to shorts to retrospectives. There are parties and panels, too, along with filmmaker appearances.
The four-day festival begins Thursday at the Texas Theatre with the acclaimed satire Greener Grass and continues at various Oak Cliff venues through the weekend.
You can peruse the schedule and buy tickets here, but in the meantime, here are three of our favorites to check out, in alphabetical order.
Jules of Light and Dark
More concerned with mood than plot, this contemplative character-driven drama — shot mostly in Dallas — offers a raw but incisive examination of contemporary relationships and queer identity. Maya (Tallie Medel) is a Texas college student whose relationship with Jules (Betsy Holt) crumbles after a night of partying culminates in a car crash. Maya’s physical and psychological recovery brings her closer to an emotionally scarred oil worker (Robert Longstreet) who rescued her, a deejay (Miles Howard) whose comforting words mask desires of his own, and an affectionate outsider classmate (Liz Cardenas). The screenplay by local director Daniel Laabs is an uneven look at loneliness that benefits from nicely understated performances. (6 p.m. Sunday, Texas Theatre)
Recorder: The Marion Stokes Project
You need to know who Marion Stokes is, but you won’t realize it until you’re watching this bizarre yet fascinating documentary about her obsessive and painstaking effort to become an archivist of American television. From 1975 until her untimely death in 2012, the Philadelphia social activist recorded news programs around the clock on VHS tapes with almost disturbing precision, then stored her collection inside her cramped apartment. The film ponders the motives of a paranoid hoarder who was a media junkie but also caused considerable strain on her family. That even-handed approach seems appropriate for a reclusive subject whose historical collection offers a fresh perspective today. (5 p.m. Friday, Bishop Arts Theatre Center)
Too Late to Die Young
Behind the vivid and meticulously detailed imagery, there’s a dreamlike obliqueness to the storytelling in this evocative memoir from Chilean director Dominga Sotomayor Castillo. It’s an autobiographical coming-of-age story set in a commune outside Santiago during the early 1990s, when three teenage siblings are isolated from the sociopolitical turmoil around them. Yet like their country, these youngsters are shaping their own future while striving for independence away from the harshness of their upbringing. Like the similarly themed Roma, the deliberately paced film rewards patience through naturalistic portrayals that speak more through expressions and body language than traditional dialogue. It’s a personal and powerfully heartfelt achievement. (7:45 p.m. Sunday, Bishop Arts Theatre Center)