The first packed house I saw at this year’s deadCENTER was for the hometown favorite — the Okie shorts. This is the first of two screenings displaying the works of local filmmakers. The next of which won’t be until Sunday night and will feature medium length (half hour) short films. Most of the shorts screened at this showcase were five to ten minutes in length.

Stanley Gets Fired is a surreal, comedic film chronicling the termination of a unicorn from his job making rainbows. Sounds silly, but it’s really just a guy in a rubber unicorn mask wandering around. The comedy is very, ironic/internet-y and the filmmakers stated in the Q&A afterwards this is only the first episode in a planned web series — so if that’s your thing.

Okie shortsBroken Boy is a drama about the descent into madness of of recently widowed man. The film uses the traditional flourishes to portray anxiety and insanity — long, smoldering shots, slightly shaky camerawork that falls in and out of focus, etc. Compelling none the less

Tower by Night Park is a music video with some stunning black and white photography of the city and surrounding industrial wastelands.

Cooler is a light-hearted comedy about the struggle of a substitute high school teacher to fit in with the regulars. Pretty funny if you can get over the fact that it features a custodian who wears flip-flops.

Josephine is a stand-out in the Okie shorts showcase, and not just because it has the longest run time in this batch — clocking in at 21 minutes. Josephine tells the compelling story of a failed musician trying to get back her life before she gave everything up to pursue her dreams. Kinda melodramatic, especially towards the end, but well shot and acted and featuring some great original music.

Waystation is a an afterlife/existential comedy about a girl who gets hit by a car and is sent to a customer service representative on the other side. The dialogue nails gallows humor to the wall in a memorable fashion, providing a nice respite from the gloom of Josephine. Oh, Josephine.

Going Dark ThumbnailGoing Dark is another stand-out. The film documents the transition of movie projection from film to digital while simultaneously chronicling the final days of an analogue movie theater. Well crafted and deeply felt. Ironically shot on digital.

Threading the Needle is a slick crime drama about something. I don’t know what, though. Whatever, it looked pretty at least.

Magnolia by Lushlife is another music video. Impressively features several hundred cardboard word helmets. I can’t quite explain how great this video is, you should probably just look it up on Vimeo.

Sherman and Pacifico features the voice of Javier Bardem as an immortal jellyfish (really) and music from The Flaming Lips multi-instrumentalist Steven Drozd. Pacifico’s (the jellyfish) search for adventure entwines his life with that of a shut-in collector, Sherman. Weird, trippy, and surprisingly poignant. The director, Daniel Tarr, is going to be a young filmmaker to watch out for.

In all it was a really good batch of short films at this year’s Okie shorts showcase. May even get me to take on the medium shorts on Sunday.