News Column

United Film Festival returns for 11th year in Tulsa on Friday at Circle Cinema

December 6, 2013


Dec. 06--The United Film Festival is now in its 11th year in Tulsa, returning to Circle Cinema on Friday with an eclectic three-day mix of full-length features, documentaries and short films -- all with Oklahoma ties.

Movies made by Oklahoma filmmakers as well as pictures that were shot in the state will be among those featured.

TUFF is the brainchild of Jason Connell, a Los Angeles filmmaker who graduated from Edison High School. A new documentary that he produced, "Tough Ain't Enough: Conversations With Albert S. Ruddy," will be showing at the festival on Sunday.

The picture is an interview with and examination of the career of the Oscar-winning producer of "The Godfather" and "Million Dollar Baby" who also created TV series including "Walker, Texas Ranger" and "Hogan's Heroes."

Connell's juried festivals began in Tulsa, where aspiring cinema auteurs paid an entry fee to submit their short films and features to be considered for a screening at the festival.

Submissions are now free, and the popularity of Connell's concept has allowed him to expand it to "United Film Festivals" that are now held annually in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, San Francisco and London.

The festival begins Friday and runs through Sunday at Circle Cinema. Individual session tickets are $8 and can be purchased at, and day-of-screening tickets will be sold at the theater. Some films will have question-and-answer sessions following the screening.

Michael Smith 918-581-8479

The TUFF schedule of films, and their Oklahoma connections, includes:


7 p.m.: "Little Hope Was Arson" -- "It's a documentary about 10 churches that were burned to the ground in east Texas. It's filled with suspense, shot beautifully, and it also has a great story to tell," said Bryan Storkel, one of the film's producers, who was part of the "Beef Baloney" comedy team on the Tulsa TV airwaves more than a decade ago. (The screening is preceded by the 11-minute short film "Move Mountain.") 9:30 p.m.: "Self-Delusion and Other Obstacles" --

This offbeat romantic comedy ("about a man reuniting with the girl of his dreams, only to discover he must 'out' the man of hers") comes from Brandon Bergin, a 15-year veteran of film and video production in Tulsa now making his feature-film debut as writer-director. Bergin's film was shot in the Tulsa area with the help of his friends. (The screening is preceded by the 8-minute short film "Time Becomes You.")


2 p.m.: "State of Mind: The Psychology of Control" -- This mind-control documentary is directed by James Lane, who made news with his 2011 Oklahoma City bombing documentary "A Noble Lie: Oklahoma City 1995." (The screening is preceded by the 5-minute short film "The Blind Photographer.")

4:30 p.m.: "Mud and Guts: The Search for Water in La Gonave, Haiti" -- This documentary about two months of drilling for water on the impoverished island of La Gonave, Haiti, is directed by Justin Greiman, a veteran Tulsa-area photographer. (The screening is preceded by the 12-minute short film "The Color of Moonlight.")

7 p.m.: "The Jogger" -- This chilling drama about a jogger running for his life from a killer comes from Oklahoma City-area filmmakers Jeff Robison and Casey Twenter, whose follow-up screenplay "Rudderless" was directed by William H. Macy and also shot in Oklahoma, starring Selena Gomez, Billy Crudup and Laurence Fishburne. (The screening is preceded by the 11-minute short film "Lonely Hearts.")

9:30 p.m.: "Home, James" -- The winner of this year's deadCENTER Film Festival's award for best Oklahoma film was this smart romantic drama from Oklahoma filmmaker Jonathan Rossetti. One of the most beautiful shot-in-Tulsa films you will ever see. (The screening is preceded by the 11-minute short film "Portraiture.")


2 p.m.: "Circle the Wagen" -- This amusing docu-drama about a pair of guys who find a Volkswagen bus for sale in Tulsa is a buddy/road-trip tale of trying to get the vehicle back to California with a little help from their many VW-loving new friends. (The screening is preceded by the 7-minute short film "This is My Home.")

4:30 p.m.: "Tough Ain't Enough: Conversations With Albert S. Ruddy" -- Ruddy discusses his career on films like "The Godfather," "The Longest Yard" and "The Cannonball Run." (The screening is preceded by the 12-minute short film "Sherman & Pacifico" and the 15-minute short film "Going Dark: The Final Days of Film Projection.")


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