Film festivals are as good as their programmers and audiences, and the deadCenter film festival has an abundance of excellence in both. From the very first communication with deadCenter, you will feel like a valued guest—the organizers strive to make you feel like you’re on the verge of an Oscar presentation.

Filmmakers really are what it is all about here at deadCenter. Your filmmaker badge is an entry to not just great parties, panels, and films, but conversations with the avid film fans that live in Oklahoma City. I’ve met such great people in Oklahoma City—friends and professional relationships that have helped to move my career down the road. A director I met at deadCenter 2016 came on as my DP for a film that screened at deadCenter 2017! deadCenter does what many film festivals overlook: engaging the vibrant community in all aspects of this weeklong celebration of films and filmmakers.

This last festival, I spent my mornings writing a new screenplay before heading out to the panels and, later in the day, films. It was evident how the programmers had worked to get the very best people involved at every level. And everything was always full to overflowing (i.e. even more opportunities to chat with other filmmakers you may have seen the night before at a party). And the audiences, oh, the audiences! They are raucous and enthusiastic, and most films have packed houses due to their exuberance and dedication to seeing new films and asking questions.

If you are one of the lucky ones to get into this festival, don’t miss the opening night party on the rooftop of the Oklahoma City Museum of Art (where one of the largest collections of Chiluly glass is on display, sure to take your breath away). Of course, it’s not just the Chihuly that’s inspiring here; the buzz of the festival permeates everything you do in OKC. Finally, a visit to deadCenter should include a couple of hours to visit the Oklahoma City National Memorial, commemorating the victims of the bombing that occurred in 1995. Sobering, artistic, and so heartbreaking, it’s a beautiful memorial where we can all go to pay our respects. Just another facet of this gem of a film festival.

Quite simply, deadCenter Film Festival hits all the right notes, and you will leave appreciated, inspired, and ready to make your next film! MM

Annie O’Neil is the award-winning director of “Phil’s Camino” and “Dear Congress.”