Burbank International Film Festival Ends This Weekend

By On September 6, 2014

The Burbank International Film Festival’s screenings spanned themes from dark and poignant to lighthearted during the 8 p.m. show at the AMC-6 venue on Friday night.

“The Monsters”, directed by William Tyler, takes the audience inside the minds of two high school students who seek revenge on classmates for their brutal bullying. At the end, viewers realize who the real monsters are. The acting and photography are superb.

A family’s dark secrets are revealed during “In The Blind”, directed by Davis Hall. It’s a poignant comment on the value of bonding with family members.

The third installment in the hour of shorts was “The Moving Picture Co. 1914” written and directed by Burbank resident Mark Kirkland and produced by his wife, Letty. Mark Kirkland worked with friends and neighbors to build a set in his Burbank hillside backyard and shoot in film and digital media a movie about a silent film company.

Kirkland used century-old cameras to shoot some of he scenes. Burbank post-production company FotoKem helped with transferring the film to digital media.

For "Simpsons" director Mark Kirkland, producing short films based on his own ideas is a change of pace and it's a hobby he shares with his wife, Letty. (Photo by Joyce Rudolph)

For “Simpsons” director Mark Kirkland, producing short films based on his own ideas is a change of pace and it’s a hobby he shares with his wife, Letty. (Photo by Joyce Rudolph)

The film has received the Burbank festival’s President’s Innovation Award, which was created for a film or filmmaker whose vision is outside the box or nontraditional, said Jeff Rector, president of the festival.

“He actually used cameras from the era to photograph the movie, and I think that’s pretty innovative, that’s exciting and that’s pretty cool,” he said. “It’s the technical process that he used to make his movie that we are honoring and that he’s a terrific filmmaker in his own right.”

Kirkland took two years to write, shoot and edit the 22-minute short, working around his full-time gig as a director on the animated TV series “The Simpsons.” He’s been on the show for 25 years, has directed more episodes than anyone else — 77 — and has won three Emmys. He is also curator for the American Society of Cinematographers’ antique-camera collection and helps other industry leaders build camera collections.

“I started reading about the history of hand-cranked cameras — who made them and how they were used,” he said.

Special appearances are made in the film by “Weird Al” Yankovic and Academy Award-winning cinematographer Haskell Wexler, who is a member of the American Society of Cinematographers.

Kirkland’s dad, Douglas, a professional photographer, made his acting debut in the film. The senior Kirkland worked for Look magazine and photographed silent film stars Charlie Chaplin and Mary Pickford in the 1960s.

The five-day festival, in its sixth year, continues today and Sunday at the AMC Burbank Town Center 6.

New this year is the History of Cinema Program, which was created by Festival President/Director Jeff Rector and from here on, the festival will screen one or two classic studio films to educate the young filmmakers and students to get them excited about the theater process, Rector said.

This year’s choices are “The Little Mermaid” to be shown at noon today in honor of the Disney animated feature’s 25th anniversary and “Forbidden Planet”, the sci-fi classic, will screen at 5 p.m. today.

The Animation Program begins at 1:30 p.m. today followed by faith-based films at 3 p.m. and Films By Women at 4 p.m. Sci-Fi and Horror films begin their screenings at 7 p.m. Sunday’s programs include Foreign Films and Documentaries from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The Closing Night Dinner and Awards Gala ceremonies begin at 5 p.m. at The Castaway.

“This year we are honoring (actor) Lou Ferrigno with the Diversity Award for his work with the deaf and his charitable work,” Rector said. “We are honoring Carl Gottlieb with the Screenwriting Award for writing ‘Jaws'”. Next year is the 40th anniversary of “Jaws” and this year is the 35th anniversary of ‘The Jerk’, for which Gottlieb co-created the script and story.”

For tickets, go to www.burbankfilmfest.org.