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Arts

The 2024 Oak Cliff Film Festival Announces Its Lineup

The festival begins June 20 and will feature films from around the world as well as complementary events to keep the party going in between screenings.
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The Texas Theatre, home to the Oak Cliff Film Festival.

The Oak Cliff Film Festival (OCFF) will return to Dallas June 20-23, delivering an eclectic mix of 27 narrative features and documentaries, 58 short films, and complementary events including musical performances and interactive experiences. Events will take place at the historic Texas Theatre and other venues throughout Oak Cliff.

Festival director Ashton Campbell says that, while recent years were leaned more heavily toward specific types of films, this year’s slate is harder to classify.

“There’s not really a set agenda with our programming,” says Campbell. “This year, I don’t think we’re heavy anywhere, and I think that’s really cool. And it shows that we have a really diverse selection and just a lot of variety.”

The festival will kick off Thursday, June 20, with a screening of Omar and Cedric: If This Ever Gets Weird, a film “charting the intimate, artistic and personal relationship between Omar Rodriguez-López and Cedric Bixler-Zavala from their bands At The Drive-In and The Mars Volta.” Campbell points out that this is not a by-the-numbers music documentary, saying, “It’s basically hundreds of hours of self-shot footage filmed by Omar over the last 40 years.”

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Swamp Dogg Gets His Pool Painted, a documentary about the cult musician, will screen during the Oak Cliff Film Festival. Courtesy Oak Cliff Film Festival

The festival closes on Sunday, June 23 with Between the Temples, a feature billed as a “crisis-of-faith comedy” from writer-director Nathan Silver, whose Stinking Heaven screened in 2015.

In addition to features, OCFF programmers were gifted an embarrassment of riches for their short films. “We actually added another narrative shorts block because we had so many good ones…and then we also added another block of just animated shorts,” Campbell says. 

Michael Alexander Morris programs the short films that make up one of OCFF’s most boundary-pushing blocks, Cinema 16. Morris describes this as “OCFF’s block dedicated to experimental and artists’ film.”

“It was established in the spirit of the original alternative cinema spaces in the 1940s and 1950s that helped to establish the avant-garde tradition in the United States,” he says. 

OCFF received its second-highest number of submissions ever this year, which gave Morris plenty of material to work with. “This year, there were several interrelated themes that I tried to cluster works around: ecology, witchcraft, women’s struggle for liberty, and of course cinema itself,” he says. 

In 2023, OCFF gave local high school students the opportunity to show their work during the festival as part of their annual Student Filmmaking Workshop. OCFF 2024 will continue that tradition, allowing students who took part in the workshop this year to share their work with family, friends, and a wider audience. The program was conducted by way of a partnership between the festival, TRG, and For Oak Cliff.

“With these shorts…we’re not programming. They’re in the film festival,” says Campbell. “As long as they are done, in focus, with audio, then we’re good to go.” Campbell says this portion of the festival, and its potential impact, is special. “Hopefully it really sparks something in [the students’] creativity, and makes them really want to pursue this medium and understand that [they] can do it.”

While OCFF 2024 will primarily feature new films from contemporary filmmakers, the festival has a history of working repertory screenings into its lineup. Highlights for this year include the 1922 silent film Häxan, which will be accompanied by a live score by David Didonato and narration from Kelli Bland, and a 40th anniversary screening of The Times of Harvey Milk, a landmark documentary about the human rights activist and politician. 

Though the film is over a century old, Campbell says Häxan tackles subjects that will feel relevant to modern viewers, using “grave robbing, possessed nuns, [and] Satanic Sabbath rituals” to explore “witch hunts” and false accusations. Equally relevant is the subject of The Times of Harvey Milk, which looks at the life and legacy of “one of the first openly gay U.S. politicians elected to public office.”

The documentary Ultimate Citizens, about a guidance counselor in Seattle Public Schools who uses Ultimate Frisbee in his work, often with children of immigrants or refugees, will also play during OCFF 2024 and has inspired the festival’s most interactive event. Jamshid “Mr. Jamshid” Khajavi, the subject of Ultimate Citizens, will lead an Ultimate Frisbee Workshop at Kidd Springs Park on Saturday, June 22. The event will be free to attend and OCFF will give away custom frisbees to the first 50 attendees.

“I think that wellness and, you know, mental health, and just physical activity is so important these days,” says Campbell of the event. “And I think that if we can promote that in any way, that’s what we want to do.” 

Another addition to the festival this year is the OCFF Wellness Lounge, hosted at the Oak Cliff Cultural Center and sponsored by Ritual Zero Proof. “It’s going to be its own little room off to the side where you can just kind of go chill out. So if you just want to take a break and just relax and maybe have a cup of coffee…and you have a badge, you have access to the OCFF Wellness Lounge,” explains Campbell. “We’re going to have, like, meditation classes to sign up for. We’re going to have a yoga class to sign up for and even a sound bath class to sign up for.”

The 2024 rendition of the Oak Cliff Film Festival may be its most innovative and expansive yet, maintaining its trademark commitment to bringing challenging, engaging films from around the world to Dallas, while also championing a well-rounded festival experience that also offers new ways to promote health and wellness for attendees.

For more information on OCFF 2024, including a complete list of films being screened and ticket/badge information, visit the festival’s official website.

Author

Austin Zook

Austin Zook

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