While the film festival circuit doesn’t truly take the winter off (Sundance was in the frigid cold of Utah in January), projectors start to heat up once spring rolls around.
March features the return of the Red Dirt Film Festival, taking place March 1-3 in Stillwater. This is an indie fest distilled to its essence, packed full of films you won’t find in theaters. Red Dirt offers a nice variety in the types of films it offers, including shorts and features in both fiction and documentary categories, some intriguingly labeled “micro films,” music videos and student work. Red Dirt also features screenplays that have yet to be produced – good networking for the screenwriters.
From just the titles, this year’s fare captures all the quirkiness of American indie films, especially the feature-length Bardo Blues and The Further Adventures of Walt’s Frozen Head. With VIP passes for the festival costing about the same as a basic pass at many other festivals, the price is right at Red Dirt.
One of the films to get the most buzz from critics in 2018 was Burning, a mystery from South Korean director Lee Chang-dong that has made many top 10 lists for its existential meditations and twisty, interpersonal relations. Like many foreign films, it received a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it theatrical release in the Midwest, so its DVD release, scheduled for March 5, is welcomed. Based on a short story from acclaimed Japanese author Haruki Murakami and co-starring the charismatic Steven Yeun (of Walking Dead fame), the film looks equal parts entertaining and provocative, and should spark a good conversation with your co-viewers.
The Marvel cinematic behemoth returns this month with one of its more intriguing entries, Captain Marvel. Starring Brie Larson and helmed by the indie directing team of Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, the film should be a nice addition to the sometimes-numbing world of superhero films, whose big spectacles are usually best tamed by a smaller, offbeat sensibility, which Boden and Fleck should provide.
I’ve stated before that I’m not the biggest fan of horror films, but every once in a while I find myself intrigued enough to check one out. That’s definitely the case with Jordan Peele’s second film (after the wildly successful Get Out), Us. Produced by Blumhouse – the studio behind some of the best recent horror films – and with a loaded cast that includes Elisabeth Moss, Lupita Nyong’o and Tim Heidecker, the film centers around a family and its sinister doppelgangers. A creepy trailer promises some big scares, and Peele will no doubt imbue the film with his usual wit and social conscience.