A Look Back With Dwight Edwards of The Filmcake: The 2007 Festival

In the Guest Spot today, we have Dwight Edwards, the man behind the very cool Okie-film website The Filmcake. Dwight has attended deadCENTER every year since 2002 (we’re willing to forget the two years he was absent, as he was there in spirit), and even contributed to our live blog of the festival in 2009. Every Wednesday until the festival, we’ll feature his look back at the deadCENTER film festivals of old, starting with 2002. This week: 2007

I think the defining moment of the 2007 deadCENTER Film Festival was the WORLD PREMIERE of famed international auteur Esteban Don Von McDonaldson’s brilliant film, L’Hell. Truly, deadCENTER had come into its own with this spectacular get. First, it’s in French. So you know it’s really good. Second, it’s in black and white. So you know it’s REALLY good. Despite the infamy surrounding that film’s premier, it turns out there were some other films that screened at the festival as well. For this week’s look back, I re-watched UFO’s At The Zoo, Shwarma: Spawn From Hell, BITCH, and Man With a Moustache.

UFO’s At The Zoo — The Flaming Lips have become a deadCENTER staple. Wayne Coyne, Bradley Beesley, and George Salisbury brought their footage of the 9/15/06 Zoo Amphitheater concert to the Saturday night outdoor screening. They returned in 2008 with the long-awaited Christmas on Mars and this year’s they’ll bring their documentary short Blastula: The Making of Embryonic to the festival.

UFO’s At The Zoo is a remarkable concert film. Upon subsequent viewings, I still find myself quite enraptured with it. Sure, it’s not the same as being there. But if played loudly, viewing it on a TV still provides an exciting buzz (without, necessarily, the expected contact high). And it’s not just a concert film. It’s both a summation of The Flaming Lips and a promise of things yet to come. The viewer is treated to many of the quirky attributes of a Flaming Lips live show. Fans dressed up in crazy costumes. Balloons & confetti. Puppet nuns & fake blood. A giant alien spaceship and a general sense of wonderment and positivity.

But the concert, and the film, also act as a defining landmark in the Flaming Lips career. This marked the Flaming Lips return to OKC. Soon they’d begin spectacular New Year’s Eve shows. Soon they’d begin leading the March of 1,000 Flaming Skeletons. Soon they’d have a street in Bricktown named for them. Soon their “Do You Realize?” would be selected as the Official State Rock Song. They had long become darlings of the independent music scene. But the Zoo show sort of began the establishment of The Flaming Lips as a bona fide Oklahoma landmark in their own right.

This 120-minute documentary feature is available on DVD.

Shwarma: Spawn From Hell — A Mad Scientist creates a burritoed she-monster who goes on a rampage only to be taken down by the Sperminator. Very weird. But very at home in the Midnight Shorts program. There were apparently two versions of the film. We were treated to the R-rated version which featured simulated sandwich wrap sex. Is the film good? Is it bad? Eh. It’s a WTF film, for sure. Prior to seeing this at the 2007 festival, my wife and I ran into the filmmaker (DeWayne Austin) at one of the parties. He turned out to be a really nice guy. But when we saw the film at the festival neither of us liked it all. It was downright bad. I’ve watched it a few times since that festival. It’s not great. It’s not my favorite. But, it’s not awful. It’s not trying to be something it isn’t. It’s just one of those films best seen late, after a few beers, and with a crowd of people. Besides, it’s just over 9-minutes long. If you don’t care for it, something else will be starting soon.

BITCH — With this short film, I was able to have my first experience with “festival buzz.” It was one of the films that was on my radar before the festival began. But as the festival continued, it seemed liked you were hearing more and more people talking about it. Lots of people asking if you’d seen BITCH yet? There is something truly electric about that kind of organic buzz.

It helps when the film lives up to the hype. It’s also great when a film ends with a theatre full of whooping and hollering. It was one of my favorites from the 2007 festival and is just as brilliant now.

Directed by Lilah Vandenburgh, the short film won the Best Student Film award at deadCENTER. Expertly edited and shot in b&w, the short centers on a girl, “Bitch,” who battles against all things inane in search of love. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this film.

This 16-minute short film is available online.

Man With a Moustache — Earnest Pettie, the writer behind 2006′s Secession, along with director Matt Leach delivered another short film comedy for the 2007 festival. Because moustaches are always creepy and nearly as hilarious, they make for a perfect short subject. Shot in Tulsa, Pettie and Leach’s film was well received at the festival. Needless to say, the perpetual absurdity of moustaches allow this short film to live on. Of course, it also means that 89.7% of all comedic short films will contain a dude with a moustache.

This 15-minute short film is available on Vimeo.

–Dwight (www.thefilmcake.com)

Next Wednesday: The 2008 festival…

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