2023 Burbank International Film Festival Welcomes Tim Burton, Celebrates Filmmakers With Awards Gala  

(photo by Ross A. Benson)

Tim Burton attended the Burbank International Film Festival closing night gala and awards ceremony at the Burbank Marriott Convention Center on Sunday, Sept. 24, which the Burbank City Council has declared “Tim Burton Day.”

Since 2022, Burton has let the festival use his name for their Tim Burton Visionary Award. Each recipient of the honor is “a local filmmaker who shows unique imagination and creativity,” per the BIFF site. Alessandro Gentile took home the award last year, and the 2023 winner was Tanner Beard, the director of “Radio Telescope.”

Burton was interviewed by Scott Feinberg for the Hollywood Reporter’s podcast, “Awards Chatter,” at the gala, during which the iconic filmmaker revisited his career and life story. 

He was born and raised in Burbank, where he graduated from Burbank High School, before going on to attend the California Institute of the Arts. In the early stages of his career, Burton made shorts like “Vincent” and “Frankenweenie” as he worked at Disney. He directed his first feature film, “Pee-wee’s Big Adventure,” in 1985. This has been followed by a number of cinematic classics, such as “Edward Scissorhands,” “Beetlejuice,” “Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas,” “Batman,” and “Ed Wood,” to name a few.

(photo by Ross A. Benson)

While walking the red carpet with his longtime collaborator, composer Danny Elfman, Burton told us about his emotions amid being recognized with the council’s declaration of “Tim Burton Day.”

“Well, I mean, it’s not really a holiday unless you get off from school or work,” Burton playfully quipped before adding, “But, other than that, it’s great. It’s beautiful. It’s a funny thing; it’s my hometown, so it means a lot to me.”  

BIFF President Kurt Patino and Advisory Board Member Tony Muscio made the arrangements for Burton to visit the event. Former BIFF President Jeff Rector was present at the gathering, and he detailed the festival’s longtime desire to welcome the legendary director as an honoree.

“It’s a really big deal. You know, we mentioned Tim’s name quite a bit over the years, but he lives in England, and he’s a very busy guy,” Rector said. “The stars aligned, I guess. It worked out great.”

In addition to leading the festival in the past, Rector previously served as a member of the Burbank Cultural Arts Commissions. He credits former mayors of Burbank Bob Frutos and Jess Talamantes, as well as the city of Burbank, for providing ongoing encouragement to the festival. 

“I’m super grateful to the city of Burbank, who supported me right from the beginning,” Rector said. He added, “I really got engrained in Burbank, and it’s one of the greatest cities in the nation.”

Following Burton’s interview with Feinberg, over 20 awards were offered to independent filmmakers and actors whose work was highlighted throughout the four-day festival. 

(photo courtesy City of Burbank PIO)

Among the victors was Emmy-nominated star Melora Hardin. She won Best Actor for her captivating performance as Mabel Montgomery-Mayflower in the one-woman movie “Golden Vanity.” The film also earned the Audience Award for a Feature Film

“The Avon Lady” was named Best Comedy Short Film, “Gay-ish” scored Best LGBTQ Short Film Award, and the Best Director award was given to Floriane Andersen for her movie in the festival, “Unforgotten.”

Actor Kelly Stables hosted the BIFF awards gala this year, and Mayor Konstantine Anthony presented Burton with a city proclamation, while Burbank City Councilmember Zizette Mullins was also in attendance. As Stables appeared on the red carpet, she expressed her appreciation for the unique storytelling abilities of festival participants. 

“It is a magical town. As hard as it is, and as competitive as this industry is, it’s full of people who want to take part in telling stories that touch people so that they can take a step back from their busy, stressful lives and maybe realize that today is a gift and be present,” Stables said. “It’s an honor to be here and to be just a part, with these many incredible independent filmmakers telling their own story and getting their messages out.”

Just prior to the end of the writers’ strike, with the actors’ strike carrying on, Anthony voiced the need to applaud the artists behind Hollywood projects through events like the BIFF awards ceremony and gala. 

“In the midst of this historic strike, it’s important that we still celebrate the arts and culture of film and find a way to do so that respects the workers, and at the same time elevates, [with the] understanding that the art will continue, and the industry will survive,” Anthony said. 

To see the other 2023 Burbank International Film Festival award winners, visit the BIFF Instagram page here.

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