Hello, there! My name is Preston Barta, and I am the features editor of Fresh Fiction and senior film critic at the Denton Record-Chronicle. My cinematic love story began where I was born: off planet on the isolated desert world of the Jakku system. It's there I passed the time scavenging for loose parts with my good friend Rey. One day I found an old film projector and a dusty reel of the 1975 film JAWS. It rocked my world so much that I left my kinfolk in the rearview (I so miss their morning cups of green milk) to pursue my dreams of writing about film. It wasn't long until I met two gents who said they would give me a lift. I can't recall their names, but one was an older man who liked to point a lot and the other was a tall, hairy fella. They got me as far as one of Jupiter's moons where we crossed paths with the U.S.S. Enterprise. Some pointy-eared bastard said I was clear to come aboard. He saw that I was clutching my beloved shark movie and invited me to the "moving pictures room" where he was screening the 1993 film JURASSIC PARK to his crew. He said my life would be much more prosperous if I were familiar with more work by the god named Steven Spielberg. From there, my love for cinema blossomed. Once we reached planet Earth, everything changed. I found the small town of Denton, TX, and was welcomed into the Barta family. They showed me the writings of local film critic Boo Allen. He became my hero and caused me to chase a degree in film and journalism. After my studies at graduate of the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, I met some film critics who showed me the ropes and got me into my first press screening: 2011's THE GREEN LANTERN. Don't worry; I recovered just fine. MAD MAX: FURY ROAD was only four years away.
Taking place tonight through Sunday (June 11-14), the Oak Cliff Film Festival promises to be one of the best spots to see some of best films from Texas filmmakers. It will also bring some high-quality independent features, documentaries and shorts to the area.
Fresh Fiction has put together a list of films that you should seek out while venturing out to Big D to take in the festival setting.
Set to kick off the festival tonight is TANGERINE, a charming dramedy about two transgender prostitutes (Kitana Kiki Rodriguez and Mya Taylor) in Los Angeles. On top of the unique and original storyline, the cool thing about this Sundance sensation is it’s shot exclusively on an iPhone 5. If that doesn’t inspire you to make movies, I don’t know what will.
If you like horror, then BODY may be the way to spend your Friday night. The premise is a little typical – a night takes a deadly turn when three girls break into a seemingly empty mansion – but the trailer seems pretty creepy. The film itself has received mixed reviews out of previous film festivals, but some have said it’s a fun and intense thriller. So take it or leave it.
Oak Cliff does not come without appealing documentaries. Filmmaker Brendan Toller documents the unveiling the incredible journey of Danny Fields, a man who played a pivotal role in music by working with such bands as The Doors, The Velvet Underground, The Stooges and The Ramones.
CHRISTMAS, AGAIN provides an interesting perspective of the ways people celebrate Christmas but it primarily focuses on a heartbroken tree salesman (Kentucker Audley) who returns to the Big Apple in hope of putting the past behind him. However, things begin to spiral downwards… all until a mysterious woman (Hannah Gross) enters the picture.
The film looks like one of those “not much happens but not much is supposed to happen” kind of flicks, but it also shows to be a quiet yet moving film that many of us can relate to– and sometimes those can be the best of movies to watch.
If you have kept up with our South by Southwest coverage, you may be familiar with UNEXPECTED, writer-director Kris Swanbergs’ latest that spins a fantastic story of friendship and motherhood.
Swanbergs’ excellent human dramedy UNEXPECTED, starring Cobie Smulders, Anders Holm and relative newcomer Gail Bean. The film tells of two pregnant women who embark on an unlikely journey.
Smulders carries the film, but Bean gives the kind of explosive performance that awards are made for. So much heart, soul and personality rings in UNEXPECTED. It’s simply delightful.
Student Shorts: Friday (6/12) at 7:30 p.m. at Bishop Arts Theater Center
Narrative Shorts 1: Saturday (6/13) at 1 p.m. at Bishop Arts Theater Center
Cinema 16 Shorts: Saturday (6/13) at 7 p.m. at El Sibil
Documentary Shorts: Sunday (6/14) at 1 p.m. at The Kessle
Narrative Shorts 2: Sunday (6/14) at 2:45 p.m. at Bishop Arts Theater Center
This year’s lineup features a significant amount of shorts. From students to local filmmakers, the shorts include fun and riveting narratives/documentaries such as THE BOTTOM RUNG (an exploration of amateur comics in the world of stand-up) and UNMAPPABLE (a portrait of the life and work of a iconoclastic psychogeographer and convicted sex offender).
The full lineup, ticket and screening information can be found on oakclifffilmfestival.com.