Thursday, June 26, 2014

Oak Cliff Film Festival's Charm

The 3rd Oak Cliff Film Festival wrapped last Sunday and with it, another set of films and a chance to appreciate the ever-bustling Oak Cliff region. As a recent transplant to the Deep Ellum/downtown area and with Oak Cliff being so close to me, it's a shame to admit that I have not explore Oak Cliff much apart from Spiral Diner and the Bishop Arts area (gotta get them Emporium pies, y'all). This being the first full festival we've covered, I just wanted to give a few of my random thoughts about festival itself.

Compared to other regional film festivals, this is a smaller affair, but one that does not feel cheap or amateur. What's great about this smaller size is that you don't have to spend a lot of time rushing from movie to movie to line up, and you can spend time talking other movie lovers over a couple of beers at the bar. Not only that, but there's a loose and chill vibe to the entire festival, so for example, you can have the director of a movie sit next to you and can chat with them right after.

The programming this year in particular was a huge highlight for me since it was filled not only with some very out-there movies in its schedule (MOOD INDIGO), but some repertory screenings which seemed to be the most popular ones. I personally got to experience STOP MAKING SENSE, the Johnathan Demme-directed Talking Heads concert movie in glorious 35mm. This was honestly my favorite screening of the festival. While I'm usually a black-and-white type when it comes to talking in theaters, the audience was just so enthralled by the performances of the band that everyone was clapping and whistling after each song ended just like a concert. Not only that, but I got to catch the beginning of the Oak Cliff bike ride that culminated in a rooftop screening atop Jefferson Tower Wild Canaries.

If there is one minor complaint and this is mostly due to the geography, but the Oak Cliff area itself presents a problem in that it's not easy to stick around one place if there are multiple screenings because the venues themselves are spread out. I went to the Bishop Arts Theater Center for one film, and I had to leave, find parking (which can be difficult around many of the featured restaurants), and then come back. But that's not the festival's fault as much as just part of the area that it's celebrating, and it should be! The Kessler Theater and the Bishop Arts Theater Center are both great venues that I'll be keeping an eye out for in the future.

Either way, this is a smaller festival that feels like a much bigger affair. The programming has become increasingly more original whereas before it might've played like a "best of" from the festival circuit, it seems to be carving out its own identity and that makes it exciting. Can't wait to see what they come up with next year!

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