Oak Cliff 2014 Preview: BUZZARD, FIGHT CHURCH, LIMO RIDE, Repertory Titles, And More

Managing Editor; Dallas, Texas (@peteramartin)
The third annual Oak Cliff Film Festival, a celebration of all things independent, starts tonight, June 19, and runs through June 22. The opening night presentation is To Be Takei, a documentary about actor / activist George Takei, directed by Jennifer M. Kroot and Bill Weber.

Held in the North Oak Cliff neighborhood in Dallas, Texas, the festival will take place at the historic Texas Theatre, the Kessler Theater, the Bishop Arts Theater, and other nearby venues. It's a long-established neighborhood that's been revitalized in recent years by a growing arts community, and the festival reflects that combination of the old and the new, with a keen awareness of its important place in the local scene and a desire to connect with the world at large. 

This year's festival pays tribute to pioneering photographer Eadweard Muybridge and features an impressively-curated selection of narrative films, documentaries, and repertory screenings. We've picked our favorites below, either those we've already seen or those that look the most promising; click through the gallery to see them all. And more information is available at the official festival site

Directed by Joel Potrykus

Marty Jackitansky (Joshua Burge) think's he's beating the system. But the system has a funny way of beating square pegs like Marty back into round holes.

Buzzard is, itself, a square peg, declining to be pigeonholed as anything other than the story of Marty, a young man who is a temp worker in the back offices of a bank. At first, he steals from his employer by ordering office supplies online and then returning them in person for cash. Next, he steals a large number of checks intended for customers and cashs them against his bank account. When he thinks his scam will be uncovered, he hides out in the basement of co-worker Derek (Potrykus).

Marty's petty crimes add up quickly, and his behavior becomes more erratic. During brief phone calls with his mother, hints are dropped about Marty's past, suggesting that the potential for something more troubling may be brewing within his psychology.

The film is visually arresting because it lacks any artifice; it's like a home movie made with precision and care. Despite the plentitude of comic books and horror movie posters in his apartment, Marty is not a lovable loser; he's entirely consumed with his own existence and displays no fellow-feeling whatsoever. He's an immature child in an adult's body, which makes him an unknown commodity when he's faced with a crisis.

As writer and director, Potrykus sets up a fascinating situation revolving around an opaque character that refuses easy resolution in memorable fashion. As editor, however, Potrykus tests the patience; there's such a thing as deliberate pacing to deepen an impression, which is occasionally in evidence, and then there are scenes such as one late in the film, watching Marty eat an entire bowl of spaghetti in bed, chewing with his mouth open. The scene does not illuminate; it merely irritates to no apparent purpose.

Screens Friday, June 20, 9:30 p.m., Bishop Arts Theater Center
More information at the official festival site.

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