Belle McDaniel

Tulsa artist Belle McDaniel

The Oscars have their statuettes, the Grammys their golden gramophones — an artistic honor isn’t complete without a physical award. 

Oklahoma’s own deadCenter Film Festival gives its fair share. This year’s award is designed this year by multidisciplinary local artist Belle McDaniel.

“When I began designing the award for the festival, I knew I wanted to incorporate elements of Oklahoma and take into account the impact the festival has made on the film industry in the state,” McDaniel says. The design of the award will be unveiled this month by deadCenter prior to its June 10 kickoff. 

McDaniel is a Tulsa artist through and through — a 2016 University of Tulsa graduate with a bachelor’s in graphic design. “From color choices to subject matter, you’ll find a little bit of Tulsa in everything I create,” she says.

deadCenter, which runs through June 20, is in its 21st iteration this year. Before the pandemic, it annually pulled crowds up to 35,000. The festival has had virtual elements since last year for reasons owing both to the pandemic and to what Executive Director Alyx Picard Davis calls “another natural evolution.”

She continues, “We’ve been in a position to witness, encourage and celebrate the momentum of the industry as it continues to evolve in our state, employing local filmmakers and bringing even more attention to Oklahoma-based stories.”

Past festivals have been in Oklahoma City, but this year’s virtual event means patrons can watch from almost anywhere. Films from and including Tulsans are on the bill, like “Black Owned,” a story of Black-owned Tulsa businesses including Sharla Walker, Onikah Asamoa-Caesar and Roy L. Tillis. 

Tulsa filmmaker Jeremy CharlesCherokee language cartoon “Inage’i” (In the Woods) and his dystopian short “Totsu” (Redbird) will play at the festival.

Find more of McDaniel’s work on Instagram at @bellerinia and find deadCenter programming info at deadcenterfilm.org. Keep an eye on the festival’s social channels for the reveal of McDaniel’s award design and details on screenings.

Editorial Intern

Ethan Veenker is from Tulsa, Oklahoma. He will graduate from the University of Tulsa in May 2020 with two degrees in English and creative writing. When not writing or reading, he likes to drum. This annoys his neighbors.

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