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By Pete Vonder Haar | June 15, 2007

Friday – Indie Movie Parking Lot
A rough start to the day, requiring copious amounts of fluids and refueling at the Hudson Street Café with a gyro, for I had a full slate planned. First there was “A Crude Awakening: The Oil Crash” (go ahead an by those Hummers kids, it won’t matter), “Shut Up and Ride” (Bullriding: it’s not just for rednecks anymore), and “Big Story in a Small City” (co-christened “Weekend at Bernie’s Big Fat Armenian Funeral” by Melissa and myself).

The festival’s overall programming was pretty solid, for while there were a couple of iffy entries the overall slate of films was quite entertaining. “Year of the Fish” and “Big Story” are both nifty finds, as were “5 Up 2 Down” and “Midnight Clear.” “Widowbago” and “Strictly Background” were crowd faves, as well.

The festival also, naturally, features a number of Oklahoma-themed films and an entire shorts and featurettes program devoted to Sooner State filmmakers. Entries this year included the aforementioned “Shut Up and Ride,” and the shorts “Money the Hard Way” and “Man with a Moustache.”

After the evening movie (“Big Story”) the action switched back to the IAO Gallery, where the Friday Night Frolic took place while the Horror and Midnight Shorts programs played in the back room. As is the case with such things (and in such buildings as don’t allow smoking), the crowd eventually made its way outside. Some of us, perhaps because we spent a hefty chunk of our adolescence gathered around pickup trucks drinking beer from a cooler, wandered across the street to gather around the pickup of Melissa’s husband Todd, who coincidentally had brought several coolers. Of beer. I’d promised myself an early night, but as night turned into morning and morning turned into “mother of god what am I doing out at this hour,” I realized resistance was useless.

I’m pretty sure festival Operations Manager Kim Haywood used those exact words, in fact.

I realized then, as someone mentioned going to get pancakes and Melissa cajoled “Rainbow Around the Sun” director Kevin Ely into giving me a ride back to the hotel, that here was a festival unlike most others I’d attended. It wasn’t just that the people were friendlier, or that the parties were easier to get into, but these folks were still honestly enthusiastic about their endeavours. All their months of work were paying off and everyone was just enjoying the hell out of it. You could make the argument they were coyly playing it up for the so-called journalist, but I’m pretty sure this wasn’t the case.

That would explain why they kept handing me drinks, though.

Saturday – “I think some of those chicks are dudes.”
The last full day of programming included “Trail of Tears: Cherokee Legacy,” a film with obvious connections to Oklahoma, and “Groundhog Crossing,” a road movie starring two people dressed as marmots. I also briefly attended a table reading of the screenplay competition, winner, the name of which eludes me, but had to duck back and crank out some more reviews and visit the Oklahoma City memorial before hitting the awards presentation. I was actually discussing cheerful topics like 9-11 and the war in Iraq with “5Up 2Down” director Steven Kessler when his film was called as the Grand Jury Award winner for Narrative Feature. He was actually polite enough to excuse himself, whereas I probably would’ve elbowed the throat of anyone obstructing my path to the stage.

Of course, no Oklahoma City event would be complete without an appearance by favorite sons the Flaming Lips (or two of them, in this case). After some hectic last-minute negotiations, Wayne Coyne and Steven Drozd were on hand to introduce the world premiere, and outdoor no less, of the Lips’ movie, “U.F.O.s at the Zoo,” the movie of the Lips’ 2006 concert at the Oklahoma City Zoo Amphitheatre. It was a perfect evening, enhanced by the presence of some of the Lips’ inflatable friends, several folks outfitted in corsets designed by local artist Nicole Moan, and – my personal favourite – the “wamber” sno-cone, consisting of Boulevard Amber and Wheat beers poured over crushed ice by Advisory Committee member Becca McCauley…refreshing.

They also apparently learned their lesson from opening night, as the beer flowed freely throughout, in spite of my best efforts to drain the IPA keg.

The Awards After Party found us back in Bricktown, at Nonna’s Purple Bar. A fine time was had by all, as the dilemma of rapidly devoured appetizers was offset by some fine people-watching from the balcony. Finally, the after-after party took place at an undisclosed location (i.e., I don’t remember where it was). It was a largely potluck affair, with a wide range of random booze and wings from a place called Bobo’s. Bobo’s caters to the after-club crowd and is only open from around 9 PM to 3 AM. The recipe? Smoke the wings for two hours, deep fry them, and cover them in honey. Which is how I now want to be cremated.

Once again, I found myself lurching into the wee hours. I feebly said my goodbyes around 4 AM, declining yet more offers for rides. I wanted to enjoy my last evening hours in OKC with a leisurely stroll down Broadway. And maybe to avail myself of one of the city’s many fine alleys, if you know what I’m saying.

Read the end of Pete’s deadCenter adventures in Film Threat’s 2007 deadCenter Wrap-Up (Part 3)>>>

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