Five to See at deadCenter 2024

6 minutes

Man oh man, June is a great month. The weather’s not too summery yet, the trees and the grass are green, and there’s so much going on, it’s basically impossible to feel bored. This weekend brings one of my favorite yearly events to downtown Oklahoma City: the deadCenter Film Festival returns for its twenty-fourth year, bringing an amazing slate of independent films—plus parties, panels, and more—to downtown.

It’s always a challenge to see all the great films a typical deadCenter offers, because you’re certain to see something great no matter what you choose. Many of my favorites are the shorts programs—collections of films anywhere from sixty seconds to forty minutes that tell a simple, brief story. I especially love the Okie shorts, because I love watching what up-and-coming Oklahoma filmmakers are up to.

But there’s a lot to be said for a feature-length film. Ever since the pandemic, I’ve spent a lot less time in movie theaters than I once did, and deadCenter is a good chance to reverse that trend. Here are a few of the films I’m excited to see. Pick up your pass at this link and come join me!

The 24th deadCenter Film Festival will take place at multiple venues in downtown Oklahoma City June 6-9. Photo courtesy Dennis Spielman / deadCenter Film Festival

The 24th deadCenter Film Festival will take place at multiple venues in downtown Oklahoma City June 6-9. Photo courtesy Dennis Spielman / deadCenter Film Festival

Bismack

Every year, the Thunder brings something great to deadCenter through their Thunder Films production house. This year’s offering focuses on Thunder center Bismack Biyombo, who grew up in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and has dedicated much of the benefits of his NBA career to building up his home country. Shows at 7:30 p.m. Friday, June 7 at Harkins Bricktown

Secret Mall Apartment

When I was in the seventh grade, I was utterly captivated by a book called Secrets of the Shopping Mall, in which two kids run away and live much better lives pretending to be mannequins in a department store. I never had the attention span to stand still for long enough for this plan to work for me personally, but in the early 2000s, a group of artists did find a way to live for many years in a hidden apartment they created inside a shopping mall. This documentary promises to be exactly the kind of unhinged that I love. Shows at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, June 8 at Harkins Bricktown and at 12:30 p.m. Sunday, June 9 at the First Americans Museum

Citizen Sleuth

Speaking about documentaries of the unhinged variety, perhaps you know someone who’s gotten just a liiiiitle too into true crime? Like just a little? And maybe it’s you? No judgement—I can relate all day long. This fabulous documentary, which premiered at SXSW this year, tracks those whose love for true crime podcasts borders on the obsessive. The footage has a little bit of a Christopher Guest mockumentary vibe, and I’m here for it. Showing at 5:30 p.m. Friday, June 7 at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art and at 12 p.m. Sunday, June 9 at Harkins Bricktown

Hailey’s Game

But lest you think all independent films are documentaries, may I introduce you to Hailey’s Game, which by all appearances looks to be a rumination on grief that is at once moving, funny, and somewhat unnerving. Films are such beautiful ways to process difficult emotions like grief, and this one looks to be a whole-box-of-tissues tearjerker. Showing at 5 p.m. Thursday, June 6 at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art and at 3:30 p.m. Sunday, June 9 at Rodeo Cinema on Film Row

This is a Film About the Black Keys

One of my favorite events at deadCenter every year is the free film on the lawn. Every year, it’s some magical documentary about the entertainment industry and the arts—previous examples have included wonderful films like Ten Feet from Stardom. This year’s documentary focuses on the Black Keys, those fantastic rockers who brought us such incredible earworms as “Gold on the Ceiling.” I’m told this screening also will feature a special sneak peek of the shot-in-Oklahoma blockbuster Twisters, which is releasing July 19. Showing 8:30 p.m. Saturday, June 8 at Scissortail Park

Written By
Nathan Gunter

A sixth-generation Oklahoman, Weatherford native, and Westmoore High School graduate, Nathan Gunter is the magazine's editor-in-chief. When he's not editor-in-chiefing, Nate enjoys live music, running, working out, gaming, cooking, and random road trips with no particular destination in mind. He holds degrees from Wake Forest University and the University of Oklahoma. He learned how to perform poetry from Maya Angelou; how to appreciate Italian art from Terisio Pignatti; comedy writing from Doug Marlette; how to make coconut cream pie from his great-grandma; and how not to approach farm dogs from trial and error. A seminary dropout, he lives just off Route 66 in Oklahoma City.

Nathan Gunter
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