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.
Preston Barta // Features Editor
DALLAS – While AVENGERS: ENDGAME snapped the summer into effect, there’s more to the season than big-budget blockbusters. Summer is also a great time that offers an eclectic mix of absurd comedies, crowd-pleasing dramas, breakout documentaries, and under-the-radar narratives that are sure to get a dialogue going.
Fortunately, you don’t have to stress to map out your cinema strategy for the months ahead because the Oak Cliff Film Festival assembles all those elements into one weekend of glory.
Running June 6-9 at the historic Texas Theatre, the Kessler Theater and the Bishops Art Theatre, the Oak Cliff Film Festival has announced another exciting year of programming. Highlights include the absurdist satire GREENER GRASS, a 35mm screening of Ozu’s silent 1933 gangster film DRAGNET GIRL (with a live score) and the Jeff Goldblum-starring THE MOUNTAIN.
Below are a few other buzzworthy features that will be making an appearance at the festival.
Directed by Academy Award-winning filmmaker Danny Boyle, the visual talent behind such films as SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE and TRAINSPOTTING, YESTERDAY is a unique narrative about a struggling musician (Himesh Patel) who one day wakes up to a world that has forgotten The Beatles.
Co-starring Ana de Armas, Kate McKinnon and Ed Sheeran, the film explores a fantasy we’ve probably all thought up when amazed by great art: What if I wrote those great songs? What if I made that iconic film? What if I created that famous painting?
Considering the talent involved and the film’s fun scenario, YESTERDAY makes the Oak Cliff Film Festival a must-attend event.
YESTERDAY screens Sunday, June 6 at 3 p.m. at the Bishops Art Theatre.
Whenever A24 is behind a movie, you know it’s reason enough to see. Whether it’s an emotional odyssey from the perspective of a ghost, a high-concept space drama, or a poignant tale of a young black man coming to grips with his identity, A24’s films can send you back out into the world as a more fulfilled and vibrant person.
Their latest work, Lulu Wang’s THE FAREWELL, is going to be no different.
Awkwafina (CRAZY RICH ASIANS) stars as a young Chinese-born, U.S.-raised woman who discovers that her grandmother in China has terminal lung cancer with only a short while left to live. However, instead of the family (including Tzi Ma and Diana Lin) breaking the news to her, they decide to keep it a secret and organize a wedding for the family to ensure there’s happiness until her ultimate demise.
The film was a massive hit at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year. Reviews have noted that THE FAREWELL is beautifully crafted and tender and that audiences should seek it out for Awkwafina’s dramatic turn and filmmaker Lulu Wang’s storytelling abilities.
THE FAREWELL screens Sunday, June 9 at 8:30 p.m. at the Texas Theatre.
If you’re a sucker for horror like I am, SATANIC PANIC should strike your fancy. Starring Rebecca Romijn (X-MEN franchise), Jerry O’Connell (STAND BY ME and PIRANHA 3D) and AJ Bowen (YOU’RE NEXT), the new Fangoria movie is about a pizza delivery girl who, on her last order of the night, encounters a high society of Satanists in need of a virgin sacrifice.
Not exactly uncharted territory for the genre, but whenever a horror comedy is in the works, and it’s made by people I greatly admire, it has earned my butt sitting in a theater seat to watch it. Expect blood, laughs and wow moments!
SATANIC PANIC screens Saturday, June 8 at 7:15 p.m. at the Texas Theatre. Director Chelsea Stardust will be in attendance.
I’ve been listening to acclaimed band Pedro the Lion for years. I’ve seen singer-songwriter David Bazan’s solo sets a few times. He’s such a profoundly thoughtful human being. His music is so soulful and personal that it’s infectious.
Now that there’s a documentary about him facing and overcoming his demons while helping his listeners in the process, you can find me learning more life lessons from Bazan in Oak Cliff next month with STRANGE NEGOTIATIONS.
STRANGE NEGOTIATIONS screens Friday, June 7 at 9:15 p.m. at the Texas Theatre. Director Brandon Vedder will be in attendance.
Filmmaker Lynn Shelton is an indie favorite of mine. She’s directed some of the most engaging episodes of television with series such as GLOW, A.P. BIO and LOVE, and has provided a lot of food for thought with heartfelt and genuine narrative features like LAGGIES, HUMPDAY and YOUR SISTER’S SISTER.
Her new film, SWORD OF TRUST, aims to pick at some more universal themes and societal truths. Elevated by an exceptional cast (Jillian Bell, Marc Maron, Jon Bass and Michaela Watkins) and a story about a handful of strangers coming together to seek the profit of an alleged Civil War artifact, Shelton’s film is going to be a flavorful and pleasant experience filled with complex characters.
SWORD OF TRUST screens Sunday, June 9 at 4 p.m. at the Texas Theatre.
Other titles to consider:
20th-anniversary screening of THE IRON GIANT; 20th-anniversary screening of documentary AMERICAN MOVIE; Cross-dressing Mexican wrestling documentary CASSANDRO, THE EXOTICO!; and the Jim Gaffigan-starring drama LIGHT FROM LIGHT.
For the full lineup, showtimes and ticket information, visit oakclifffilmfestival.com.