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6 can’t-miss picks for this year’s Oak Cliff Film Festival

Exterior of Texas Theatre in Oak Cliff, Texas. The marquee reads, "Oak Cliff Film Festival June 20-23"
Chris Gardner
/
Oak Cliff Film Festival

The Oak Cliff Film Festivalreturns for its 13th year to the Texas Theatre and other venues in Dallas’ Oak Cliff neighborhood.

This year’s festival runs from June 20-23 and spotlights 27 feature-length films with a lineup of genres that include comedy, thriller, documentaries, LGBT, animation, foreign and a selection of 58 short films.

“Movies are all Around Us” is this year's theme. Ashton Campbell, co-director of the festival, says the tagline fits into the festival mantra of championing brave and independent filmmaking.

"Everything can be a movie,” said Campbell. “Movies happen all the time. You can write a screenplay about anything, anything could be the central character -- the antagonist, the protagonist. That kind of happens very organically sometimes. And the idea this year is that movies are all around us and life is a film festival."

We chatted with Campbell about some of the noteworthy films on the bill this year. Here are his standout picks.

 

OMAR & CEDRIC: IF THIS EVER GETS WEIRD (2023) Documentary

What it’s about: The film charts the artistic and personal relationship between two era-defining artists, Omar Rodríguez-López and Cedric Bixler-Zavala (At the Drive-In / The Mars Volta), told almost entirely through hundreds of hours of self-shot footage filmed by Omar over the last 40 years.

When it’s showing: Thursday, June 20, 7:30 p.m. - Downstairs at the Texas Theatre.
Filmmaker Gary Forrester will attend.

Why you should see it: “Opening night is big every year." said Campbell. " And this year, we've got a cool opening night with the film Omar and Cedric. It's a documentary about the post-rock band, At the Drive-In and the two guys that formed that-- Omar and Cedric-- who also went on to form a band called The Mars Volta. They have spawned two big and popular bands and have really helped shape music culture over the past 40 years. They're both Texas-based and important in the indie rock culture with what they represent.”

THE BECOMERS (2023) comedy/sci-fi

What it’s about: A body-snatching alien comes to Earth, reconnects with their partner, and tries to find their way in modern America.

When it’s showing: Sunday, June 23, 4:15 p.m. - Upstairs at the Texas Theatre.
Filmmaker Zach Clark will attend.

Why you should see it: “Zach Clark --who will be in attendance at this screening--is a really great director, " said Campbell. "I always love his dialog and he's just a great storyteller. And, you know, when you get to hear from the guy at the screening, and hear about his creative process, it just makes the event more impactful. The film resonates more when people can hear what the director was going through.”  

VULCANIZADORA (2024) Narrative feature/thriller  

What it’s about: In this intense tale from provocateur Joel Potrykus, two friends embark on a disturbing mission in the Michigan woods. As they trudge through the forest, their intentions become increasingly clear. When their plan ultimately unravels, one friend must return home to face the surreal and unsettling consequences of their actions, grappling with the legal and emotional repercussions that follow.

When it’s showing: Friday, June 21, 7:15 p.m. - Upstairs at the Texas Theatre
Filmmakers Joel Potrykus, Adam Minnick and actor Joshua Burge will attend

 Why you should see it: “This is one of my favorite films in the fest this year," said Campbell. "It's graphic, it's pushing boundaries and it's hard to watch at times but it's a powerful drama about two guys who are trying to figure out their next step in life. This is director Joel Potrykus's fourth film we've had at the OCFF. Right now, he's getting a lot of publicity for the fact that he's a true indie filmmaker and we're big fans of his. It very much fits in the realm of what we call an Oak Cliff Film Festival film, meaning that it fits into our mantras to champion brave and independent filmmaking.”

 

ULTIMATE CITIZENS (2024) Documentary

What it’s about: Jamshid is an Iranian who came to study in 1970’s America, and due to the Revolution, never went “home.” As a guidance counselor in Seattle Public Schools, Jamshid’s best work takes place out of the building and on a playing field with “his kids,” the children of refugees and immigrants. Their parents are in the grips of their own struggles to make a living and a home in a strange land. Mr. Jamshid is the charismatic, fiery, funny human with a Frisbee in hand, who is the first to show that "love wins" on the field, off the field, at home with family, or boldly forging a new community, in a new country - one kid, chicken, extreme mile and friend at a time.

When it’s showing: Saturday, June 22 at 6:15 p.m. at Bishop Arts Theater Center.
Filmmaker Francine Strickwerda and star Jamshid Khajavi will attend.

Why you should see it: “This is a really fun watch," said Campbell. " It's a lighthearted documentary about an Iranian immigrant living in Seattle who teaches inner city kids Ultimate Frisbee as a way to deal with trauma or grief. He takes his students on a journey through this game."

Prior to the screening OCFF hosts an all-ages frisbee workshop at 2 p.m. at Kidd Springs Park. The workshop will be led by Jamshid Khajavi, the subject of the documentary Ultimate Citizens. The first 50 participants receive a custom frisbee.

GOOD ONE (2024) Narrative feature

What it’s about: During a weekend backpacking trip in the Catskills, 17-year-old Sam navigates the clash of egos between her father and his oldest friend.

When it’s showing: Saturday, June 22 at 4:45 p.m., - Downstairs at the Texas Theatre

 Why you should see it: “This is a movie that, again, is getting a lot of hype right now and it's perfect for the OCFF," said Campbell. "It's just got all the qualities that we look for with the subject matter and what it represents. We haven't finalized it yet, but we're hoping to have a filmmaker there. And if we do, that falls in the category of making them more than just screenings; now it becomes an event. That's a lot of what we try to do at the fest-- to try to make it an event and to get the audience involved and let them ask questions.”

 

Still from the film Between the Temples. Close up profiles of a man and woman facing each other with their eyes closed.

BETWEEN THE TEMPLES (2024) Comedy

What it’s about: A cantor in a crisis of faith finds his world turned upside down when his grade school music teacher re-enters his life as his new adult Bat Mitzvah student.

When it’s showing: Sunday, June 23 at 8 p.m. - Downstairs at the Texas Theatre. Q&A with filmmakers following screening.

Why you should see it:  “This is our closing night film and it's a good movie for us to close our festival on," said Campbell. "It's got a great cast, including Carol Kane, Jason Schwartzman, Robert Smigel and directed by Nathan Silver. It's a drama and has got some Harold and Maude vibes to it.”

Visit Go See DFW to find even more events.

The Go See DFW calendar is a partnership between KERA and The Dallas Morning News.

Got a tip? Email Therese Powell at tpowell@kera.org.

KERA Arts is made possible through the generosity of our members. If you find this reporting valuable, consider making a tax-deductible gift today. Thank you.