Norman Film Festival

DJ Zachary sets up a camera at the Studio of the Sooner Theatre, Saturday, Sept. 15, 2018, during the Norman Film Festival. The festival returns in 2021 in a modified format after a COVID-related hiatus.

The Norman Film Festival returns from a one-year hiatus to kick off the weekend, giving film fans the opportunity to view short and feature length films at no cost.

Starting at 6:30 p.m. Friday, the independent international film and media festival will show entries at The Depot, Beer Is Good Brewing, Red Brick Bar and Lazy Circles Brewing, according to a news release.

The festival was originally going to be a two-day event with showings at Sooner Theatre.

But with COVID-19 cases continuing to rise, Chase Spivey, director of the festival, said a decision was made among the board to organize film showings at open-air venues as a safety measure.

“We had to find different outdoor venues, then find outdoor projectors and PA sound systems,” Spivey said.

Spivey said while VIP packages and paid entry might have worked well for past renditions of the festival, returning to in-person as opposed to in-home viewings last year, the board wanted 2021’s NFF to be a fun, free and accessible community event.

At 6 p.m., festival goers can view “Oklahoma Mon Amour” on The Depot lawn. Spivey said the film was created by Oklahoman Carolina Rueda about a man traveling from Oklahoma to Mexico to find out what happened to his brother and discover the secrets that hurt their family.

Spivey said he was intrigued at the prospect of a local filmmaker creating a movie about serious subject matter.

“A lot of indie and low budget films that have come from here are niche comedy or horror, which are awesome and there’s a crowd for that here, but it’s nice to see something featuring Normanites,” Spivey said.

The movie’s director, Carolina Rueda and other crew/cast members will host a live Q&A session after the film showing. Festival organizers encourage bringing an extra chair and blanket as seating will be limited, the release states.

A food truck, 405 Brewing, will be onsite. Katie Williams will perform live music before the movie begins, a news release by the festival board reads, the release states.

At 6 p.m., the festival will show Oklahoma short films produced in Oklahoma at Beer Is Good Brewing, the release states. Spivey said when he looked at all of the submissions for Oklahoma Shorts, he was pleased to see signs of a burgeoning scene.

“I went to film school and saw a lot of talent move to Washington, New York, California, even Texas to work in the industry. Now we’re in a place where the Oklahoma film scene is growing with increased participation, and that’s really encouraging,” Spivey said.

At 6:30 p.m. Friday, the film “Lapsis” will show at the back porch of Red Brick Bar, according to the release. “Cult status is assured” in the film, according to Variety Magazine.

The sci-fi drama was written and directed by Noah Hutton, who was nominated for the 2021 Independent Spirit Award for Best First Screenplay for the film, according to Internet Movie Database.

Lazy Circles Brewing will host an outdoor showing of “Dating Amber,” an LGBTQIA+ Irish comedy directed by David Freyne. The film features two students who engage in a faux hetero relationship to ward off social judgement and ostracism, according to IMDb.

The showing begins at sundown. Seating is limited and attendees might want to bring a chair or blanket, according to a festival release.

Spivey said screening films in-person at outdoor venues “just seemed like more of a Norman vibe.”

“We had already committed to screening these films in-person before [the rise in cases], so we just figured we would stay with that as much as we could, safely,” he said.

Jeff Elkins covers business, living and community stories for The Transcript. Reach him at jelkins@normantranscript.com or at @JeffElkins12 on Twitter.

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