Being Evel highlights deadCENTER's free outdoor screenings 

click to enlarge 08 Sep 1974, Twin Falls, Idaho, USA --- ** FILE ** Evel Knievel is shown in his rocket on Sept. 8, 1974, before his failed attempt at a highly promoted 3/4-mile leap across Snake River Canyon in Idaho. Knievel, the hard-living motorcycle daredevil whose exploits made him an international icon in the 1970s, died Friday, Nov. 30, 2007. He was 69. (AP Photo/File) --- Image by © Anonymous/AP/AP/Corbis - FILE) --- IMAGE BY © ANONYMOUS/AP/AP/CORBIS
  • File) --- Image by © Anonymous/AP/AP/Corbis
  • 08 Sep 1974, Twin Falls, Idaho, USA --- ** FILE ** Evel Knievel is shown in his rocket on Sept. 8, 1974, before his failed attempt at a highly promoted 3/4-mile leap across Snake River Canyon in Idaho. Knievel, the hard-living motorcycle daredevil whose exploits made him an international icon in the 1970s, died Friday, Nov. 30, 2007. He was 69. (AP Photo/File) --- Image by © Anonymous/AP/AP/Corbis

deadcenter2015Related content:

• deadCENTER Film Festival celebrates 15 years. • 2015 ICON award winner and honorees. • Commentary: Becoming an art-smart city, by Tyson Meade. • Satanic black mass documentary: The Real Enemy. • The life and times of a freewheeling legend: Being Evel. • Foodie favorites: Course of Food, City of Gold and The Last Sandwich. • Recommended: Special event screenings, LGBTQ, topical history, music, feature-length Oklahoma. • Dead Drunk Festival is Award Winning. • Oklahoma Gazette's official deadCENTER Film Festival program.


Evel Knievel was a complicated figure, which is the way America prefers its icons. A combination of death-defying talent and flamboyance drew millions of fans to him while his personal battles with alcohol and anger created a lengthy list of enemies.

He was a man that a generation of youth looked up to yet one that few parents would want their child to someday become.

“He was a hero to me as a kid, like he was to so much of our generation,” said Daniel Junge, who directed Being Evel, a documentary about the cape-wearing daredevil’s life.

The film makes its Oklahoma premiere at a free, public, outdoor screening during this week’s deadCENTER Film Festival.

“But as we grow up, we learn that our heroes are sometimes less than heroic,” Junge said.

Robert Craig Knievel, who changed his name to Evel as a marketing stunt, is a Guinness Book of World Records holder for most broken bones in a lifetime — a reported 433 — who if he didn’t invented the sport of motorcycle long jumping at least brought it into mainstream American culture in the late 1960s and ’70s.

Being Evel is an intimate examination of his rise to fame and his struggle to complete harrowing jumps and manage his own shortcomings as a business partner, celebrity and family man. Like its subject, Being Evel leaves viewers with conflicting thoughts: wanting to cheer him to land a jump one moment and then shake their heads in disgust the next.

“This film, 35 years later, is a way of trying to reconcile that childhood image with the person we know as an adult,” Junge said following a showing of the film at this year’s South By Southwest Film Festival in Austin.

Being Evel’s deadCENTER screening will take place on the Great Lawn at Myriad Botanical Gardens, 301 W. Reno Ave., as the festival’s annual free outdoor film Saturday night, drawing the largest audience of the week.

Being_Evel_Poster_FINAL.jpg

“For our outdoor film, we are always looking for a film that has wide appeal,” said Kim Haywood, director of programming and education for deadCENTER. “This film is absolutely fantastic and shows how Knievel affected a generation of young men.”

Being Evel offers a look at the public jumps and personality of Knievel as well as behind-the-scenes moments and interviews with those who were the closest to him. It also includes interviews with Johnny Knoxville, one of the film’s producers and a pioneer for a new brand of made-for-television stunts through his own show, Jackass.

“Evel was such a big influence on my childhood. Nothing stuck with me like that,” Knoxville told Rolling Stone at Sundance Film Festival. “No one went for it like that before Evel Knievel. I say that in the documentary, but it’s true.”

Mat Hoffman, an Oklahoman and a nationally known BMX rider, also served as a producer on the film and offers his own perspective on Knievel during documentary.

The film chronicles Knievel’s ongoing quest to outdo his latest jump, which eventually takes him to Snake River Canyon in Idaho, a quarter-mile-wide jump he attempted in a rocket. The jumps themselves are included in the documentary, but so is the promotional work Knievel did before each to draw a crowd, television cameras and sponsors.

“The actual stunt is seconds, [but] he is a smart man and he knows he has to prolong the inevitable,” Junge said. “Our memory of him is so kinetic and action-oriented ... but we didn’t know about the man behind all of this.”


deadCENTER Film Festival

Great Lawn Myriad Botanical Gardens

301 W. Reno Ave.

deadcenterfilm.org

Free

Note: Lawn chairs, blankets and ice chests are encouraged. For festival tickets, schedule and more information, check out the official deadCENTER program guide in this issue.

This is Spinal Tap 9:30 p.m. Friday

Being Evel 9:30 p.m. Saturday

Out to Win 9:30 p.m. Sunday


(Photo by Mark Hancock / Composite and design by Christopher Street)

(Photo by Mark Hancock / Composite and design by Christopher Street)

Print headline: Killer thrills, A documentary about daredevil biker Evel Knievel’s flamboyant and troubled life highlights film festival’s free outdoor film event.

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