Urban Cinema Festival celebrates concrete jungles 

click to enlarge A scene from Rose - OKLAHOMA URBAN CINEMA FESTIVAL / PROVIDED
  • Oklahoma Urban Cinema Festival / Provided
  • A scene from Rose

Marcus Hayes doesn’t want Oklahoma Urban Cinema Festival to be limited to a select community. Instead, he wants the fest to be Oklahoma City’s open invitation to the world of film.

Hayes is the director of the festival that begins its second year 7 p.m. April 8 at Bricktown Hotel & Convention Center, 2001 E. Reno Ave. The festival runs through April 10 at three other venues. More than 20 short and feature films will be screened.

“In America, sometimes, the word ‘urban’ can have an ethnic connotation,” Hayes said. “We don’t use it that way. We use it as urban as opposed to rural. You won’t see any countryside, rural-themed films at our festival. It’s about life in the city and what goes on.”

In the festival’s second year, Hayes said he and his small, hardworking staff have a better idea of what it takes to run the event. That includes a more creative marketing approach and a tightened lineup of screening venues. Last year, films were screened at eight sites.

“It was fun, but it was exhausting,” Hayes said. “We pared it down, and there’s not a lot of overlap. Last year, there was a great deal of overlap.”

This year, the festival also features a music video competition 6:30 p.m. April 9 at The Sandwich Club, 3703 N. Western Ave.

Hayes was so surprised by the great interest shown by filmmakers from overseas last year that he decided to create a foreign film category. This year’s fest includes selections from Israel, Ireland, North Africa, Chicago, California and, of course, Oklahoma.

“We didn’t just want to be an Oklahoma film festival,” Hayes said. “What we wanted to do is incorporate our culture, our Oklahoma sensibilities, into the film festival sphere.”

Hayes is equally excited about every selection in the 2016 lineup, but he’s especially interested in The OKC 13. It’s a documentary short inspired by the trial of former Oklahoma City police officer Daniel Holtzclaw and screens 12:35 p.m. April 9 at Metro Technology Centers, 1900 Springlake Drive. Two-hour feature College Life Atlanta, screening 8 p.m. April 9 at Metro Tech, is equally exciting.

One of the festival’s goals this year is to establish credibility among filmmakers and local moviegoers.

“We want people to know we’re serious about what we’re doing and it’s a professional, very entertaining weekend,” Hayes said. “We want to provide for people who like to go watch films.”

For tickets and film schedules, visit okurbancinema.com. Single tickets are $4. All-festival passes are $20.

Print headline: City reels, Oklahoma Urban Cinema Festival explores modern life and issues.

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