Cults, Lucha Libres, Hometown Heroes, and Southern Disillusionment: The 8th Oak Cliff Film Festival Begins Today

Still from Satanic Panic

Tucked into affluent neighborhoods of Dallas lies a group of high-fashion, high-society satanic worshippers in need of a virgin. A pizza delivery girl in desperate need of tips believes she’s hit the jackpot as she pulls into the driveway of cult leader Danica (Rebecca Romijn). What comes next is a bloody fight for survival filled with demons and death. Satanic Panic, which was filmed in Dallas, is just one of the many films that will be screened over the next four days, June 6–9; twenty-eight feature films are slated at the Bishop Arts Theatre Center, The Kessler Theater, and the Texas Theatre during the 8th Oak Cliff Film Festival. Thirteen of those movies are screening for the first time in Texas. Additionally, the Oak Cliff Film Festival will host parties and workshops throughout Oak Cliff and Dallas. 

Dallas Director Daniel Laabs’s Jules of Light and Dark is set in present-day Texas. Maya (Tallie Medel) and her on-again, off-again girlfriend Jules (Betsy Holt) total their car after a night of backwoods raving and teen mischief. They’re rescued from the wreckage by Freddy (Robert Longstreet), a divorced oil worker whose stoic facade crumbles as he comes to see himself, and his repressed desires in Maya. As Jules recovers, Maya and Freddy develop a rapport that dulls the debilitating silence of their small-town lives. Together, they subtly encourage one another to chase after what they want the most (or at least try to figure out what that might be). The film itself was shot in Oak Cliff and screens Sunday, June 9. 

Courtesy of Acid Cannes

Cassandro, The Exotico!  is the true story of openly gay Mexican wrestler Saúl Armendáriz. The intimate 16mm portrait follows Armendáriz in the twilight of his 26-year career. His body is at last succumbing to the years of broken bones, concussions, and alcohol and drug abuse. Cassandro, The Exotico! will be shown at the Kessler onn June 8. 

When Cynthia and Mary (Jillian Bell and Michaela Watkins) show up to collect Cynthia’s inheritance from her deceased grandfather, the only item she’s received is an antique sword her grandfather believed to be proof that the South won the Civil War. There are two attempts to unload the object to Mel, a curmudgeonly pawnshop owner (Marc Maron) and his man-child sidekick Nathaniel (Jon Bass). When Mel and Nathaniel discover there’s a black market for the relic, the two pairs reluctantly join forces to sell this rarefied ‘prover item’ to the highest bidder. The adventure that ensues takes the four of them on a wild journey into the depths of conspiracy theory and Southern disillusionment. Sword of Trust plays June 9. 

Ham on Rye makes it’s Texas premier and features a bizarre rite of passage. All of the teenagers in Haley’s (Haley Bodell) hometown dress in their grandparents’ best clothing on what is said to be the most important day of their lives. Haley walks at a more reluctant pace, skeptical of the timeworn tradition and the bizarre coming-of-age ritual that awaits them at their destination. When they finally arrive at Monty’s, a local delicatessen, the clusters of local teens join together in a surreal ceremony of food, dance, and romantic angst that will determine the course of their lives forever. Many of the teens are granted instantaneous escape from the clutches of suburbia while an unchosen few are left to dwell interminably in their vacant hometown. 

The Oak Cliff Film Festival runs June 6-9 at various locations. Film screenings are $11.50 each in advance or at the door; a VIP badge for $175 grants access to all screenings. Oakclifffilmfestival.com  

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