The festival itself is well run (even though they ran out of goodie bags by the time we registered -that’s more probably more indicative of its popularity than anything else) and offers a good mix of intelligent programming. “Intelligent programming”, for example, our film was featured in a series called “Love, Sex and Death”. Leah Shore’s “Old Man” was a stand out in the stand out program called “Vamps, Ghouls & Haunts”. These themes make it easier on the audience and are offer a fair platform to the films by presenting them in a league of related work -even if they are just third cousins, twice removed.
Festival director Lance McDaniel told me that most of the shorts programs were already reaching sell-out by the first day. Our first screening pretty much filled up the 100 plus seat multiplex theater despite the fact that only two filmmakers were in attendance.
Despite Oklahoma’s well-known primitive stances on human rights issues like gay marriage and the gleeful ignorance of some of their highest elected officials, it’s clear that some strong civic voices in the state are pushing back in an effort to build a community which is representative of the 21st Century. This has begun with a successful urban renewal project that includes renovated parks, a river walk in the style of San Antonio, a botanical garden and arts outreach programs.
Not insignificantly, the festival inaugurated an “Equality” program this year. A few of these films were produced regionally. The entire program, especially the the local films and moreover the audience response was moving. It gives hope that universal access to equal rights under the law may not be as far down the pipe as certain lawmakers would like.
The projection and venues (I was in three venues and six screens -the Festival taking over half of well-run multiplex) were all good. The library, pictured above, had a fairly small screen in a very nice lecture hall and the blu-ray image spilled off it. Despite that the environment was appropriate for “Out of Print” -a documentary on books and their future. That film, edited by the always brilliant Tom Patterson, took the “Best Documentary” prize in a field that included some very stiff competition.
There were jam-packed parties every night in different locations. But I’m old and they were too loud and too crowded so I didn’t spend much time at any. The kids would have loved them.
I had a good time, met some great people and saw some exceptional work. This is definitely a festival for serious film makers. A more than worthwhile experience.