The Tulsa American Film Festival returned for its second year, with a heavy emphasis on Native American films and short student works. The five-day festival included panels, after-parties, and a variety of short and feature length films in both documentary and narrative style. It was held at Circle Cinema, The Woody Guthrie Center, and Gilcrease Museum.
TU professor and playwright Michael Wright directed four short screenplay readings employing local actors and a handful of TU students for the festival. The four short film screenplay choices were “Piblokto” by Christine Tucker, “Squalor” by Sam Gill, “’Til the End of Summer” by Brian Du, and “Death’s Lady Love” by Steven M. Hunt. Brian Du, the writer of “’Til the End of Summer” is a University of Tulsa alumnus.
Brian Du’s “’Til the End of Summer” is a harrowing story about two sisters with terminal diseases attempting to fold one thousand origami paper cranes to receive good health and fortune. The story combined deep family relationships with ancient legend. Tori Gellman, a film minor at the University of Tulsa, read for the character Yuki. Gellman said that she had the opportunity to speak to Brian Du, the writer, before the reading. Professor Michael Wright reached out to her to do the reading, and that she was excited to participate in the festival and eager to try out a new aspect of the filmmaking process.
Professor Michael Wright was a judge on the panel for short screenplays this year and was in charge of the public readings. Last year, he’d been similarly involved, judging instead short and feature length films. For the readings this year Wright wanted to meet new actors to bring them into the festival. He ended up being very pleased with the performances and said that even though some of the readers were new to public speaking he felt they did a wonderful job. Professor Wright also said that his main focus was casting, and that if you “get the right actor/voice for the role [then] everything else follows easily.” His only hope for next year is that all of the screenwriters will be able to attend to see their works read to an audience. Wright noted that the addition of the public readings was “a great new aspect of the festival” and that he “was really proud to direct.”
The short screenplay reading not only showcased the screenwriting talent coming out of the film department, but also the talent of Professor Wright and the cast of local actors and TU students. The event came together well and was a great addition to the Tulsa American Film Festival.