Oklahoma’s deadCENTER Film Festival is just around the corner with only three weeks until opening night. deadCENTER is Oklahoma’s largest film festival and one of the biggest platforms for red dirt independent filmmakers looking to get a break in telling their story. This is the 15th year for Oklahoma’s flagship event and the films and special guests planning to attend do not disappoint.
Every year the festival brings in native Oklahomans working around the industry and honors their outstanding achievements with the Oklahoma Film ICON Awards. Past recipients of the Oklahoma Film ICON Awards have included people working in various facets of the industry with recipients like “X-Men” and “Enchanted” star James Marsden and Oscar-winning make-up artist Matthew Mungle. These are undoubtably big shoes to fill, but this year’s honorees are some of best and brightest yet.
One of the more recognizable faces to receive one of this year’s ICON awards is none other than Tim Blake Nelson of “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” fame. Before Nelson went on to make waves in Hollywood, he graduated from Tulsa’s Holland Hall before moving on to Juilliard to further his career in performance. The actor, singer, director has appeared in more than 65 movies including superhero blockbuster “The Incredible Hulk,” family favorite “Holes,” and the critically acclaimed “Lincoln”. Nelson is set to screen his new movie “Anesthesia” on Saturday June 13 at the Oklahoma Museum of Art.
Another one of this years recipients, Bob Berney, has found success working behind the scenes as the CEO of Picturehouse. Through the movie distribution company, Berney has worked on the releases of critical darlings like Guillermo Del Toro’s “Pans Labyrinth,” Robert Altman’s “A Prairie Home Companion,” and Christopher Nolans’s mindbender “Memento”. Bob Berney is making an appearance on an Okie Film ICON panel at the Oklahoma Museum of Art on Friday June 12 before screening his film “Gloria” at the Devon Energy Auditorium later that evening.
Upcoming documentarian Brad Beesley is another one of the honorees originally from Moore, Oklahoma. He’s known for covering some of the more interesting local stories with documentaries like “Okie Noodling” for PBS or “Sweethearts of the Prison Rodeo” for HBO. Beesley is doubling down at this year’s festival by entering his most recent documentary “The Verdigris: In Search of Will Rogers” set to screen 12:30 on June 13 at the Harkins and his latest short film “Calls to Okies” on Friday in the same theater. He closes out his tour of Dead Center when joins in on an Okie Film ICON panel on Friday afternoon.
The final recipient of the ICON awards is former OU grad and associate director of the Native American and Indigenous Programs for the Sundance Institute, Bird Runningwater. Runningwater has championed Native American filmmakers in his time with the Ford Foundation Fellowship that was established to support emerging filmmakers. Bird Runningwater will lead a discussion covering Sundance Programming and Indigenous film at 1:30 on Saturday June 13 at the Oklahoma Museum of Art.
After 15 years, deadCenter continues to grown and attract more and more artists actively working in the industry thanks to the talent of ICON recipients. The festival is a key piece of Oklahoma’s recent creative renaissance with more than 25,000 people attending 2014’s event. This year’s festival is a four day occasion being held in downtown OKC and it kicks off Thursday, June 11 and runs through Sunday, June 14. All access passes can be purchased online or tickets to individual screeners can be purchased the night of the show.