Dove chocolate flowed in the form of chocolate margarita's, chocolate barbeque sauce, chocolate meatballs, and toffee chocolate cookies as Nancy Gilbert of Saloon Sweets helped open the 2011 Burbank Film Festival. The evening reception, held at Video Symphony, a school for editors and other film professionals, was also garnished with delicious tasties from Cheif Robert Catering. This, the fifth annual event for Burbank, was bigger and better than last year's.
The evening films, sponsored by Women In Film and hosted by MakeUp Forever, Green Energy Organics, the AMP Experience, and Saloon Sweets, included the dramady "Wong Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" - a comic tale of depression and madness in Asian American women by Kristina Wong. After playing in sold out houses from Alaska to Los Angeles and New York to Yale, Kristina's one woman show is finally captured on film. Kristina takes a raucous approach to the high rates of suicide as a cultural phenomena. The laughter descended into a sobering look at mental illness.
Two of my favorite shows for that evening, however, were the shorts, Career Virgin, a humorous and often true story in which a teenage girl, upset at being the only virgin in her class, has to stand up for herself. Directed by Angie Corner, it was a Dangerous Curves Productions. I especially enjoyed the short Love Is All Your Need? A WingSpan Pictures, directed by K. Rocco Shields, it tells the story of a young straight girl in a gay world where bullying is the norm. Depicting what life is like on the other side, it's a wonderfully done, emotionally wrought story and should be seen in every school.
The winner of that evening's award was Bathing and the Single Girl. A Christine Elise McCarthy film, it tells the story of an older single woman's horrors of dating younger men - in the bathtub.
Others that night were Talk, Anonymous, Double Black, Talk, and the cute Bubblegum Smackers where pint size private eyes search for a missing best friend.
A whole section on animated films had many originals as the winning Japanese FullMetal Alchemist. This also received best writing for animation, as well. Many other superbly done shorts were shown, as well. Notes on Biology, a Danny Madden film, was the first annual Bill Plympton Award for indie animation. Best in the short film animation was Friday Night Tights from Joonki Park. Curator's choice for best animation was The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore.
Dealing with the dirty secrets of a plastic surgeon, the best student film, directed by Nick DeRuve from A Read Between the Lines Production went to Dr.Thompson.
The best commercial, The Aerialist, dealing with Adidas Athletic wear, went to Mollye Asher.
We also saw the best narrative feature, A Lonely Place for Dying. Directed by Justin Evans, the Humble Magi film is about an KGB mole in an abandoned Mexican prison as he tries to fight for asylum.
Dealing with search and rescue technique training, Kyle Warren's Canine Instinct took the best documentary award
On Saturday, the section of Sci Fi/ Fantasy/Horror was lead with one of the independently produced Star Trek's: Of Gods and Men. In keeping with the theme, Jeff Rector moderated a Q&A with the writers, producers and actors - Sky Conway, Tim Russ, Chase Masterson, Walter Koenig, Crystal Allen and Gary Graham. With a honorable mention to the great Roger Corman, the evening began. The after party at TDJ Studios in North Hollywood, celebrated horror and fantasy genre as costumed people partied into the night courtesy of the liquor Mascarade and Jeff Rector. Also at the party were Calista Carradine, John Schayer, Jerry Rector, Harry Kloor, Rick Brulte, Valerie Perez, and Doug Jones as well as the Frank Beasley and the Bird Man
Other winners included Supa Pirate Booty Hunt for Best original writing in animation; Amada for best writing - original; The King's Son by Uygar Aktan, best unproduced screenplay; An Awkward Situation for best student film in animation; Tell Tale - best adaptation writing; and Imprinted by Alison McMahan as the Bella Fe Films award. To the End of the World won the FrameForge Previz 3D software while best foreign language film went to Augenblicke.
Awareness awards went to Sam Mettler, creator of the gripping reality show Intervention, and addiction specialist, Candy Finnigan, while Fred Willard received the Pioneer in Comedy award. An alumnus of Second City, Fred has appeared in over 70 films and thousands of TV episodes and works with many charities including Big Brothers/Sisters, Actors and Others for Animals and City of Hope. HIs latest film is Summer at Dog Dave's. Lifetime Television Animation award went to Al Jean and pioneer in television animation went to Mark Kirkland while Lisa Nova Donovan received the pioneer in new media award.
Not only were there films, but educational seminars as well. Classes ranged from Running An Independent Studio, Sound Effects with David Barbee, Film Stunts with Lane Leavitt and Carolyn Day, Film Editing with Paulette Lifton, Bill Plympton's Master Class, A History of Foley: From Then Until NOw, Casting - Process, Placement and Career, Mixing Professional ADR for TV& Feature Films; How To Wow the Script Reader; Dallas "The Phenom" Malloy, Turning of the Script and others.
Among the other sponsors were the Big Break Movie Contest, Burbank Music Academy, Flappers Comedy Club, The Asylum, The Oracle Post, New York Film Academy, Dolby Digitial, ISA - International Screenwriter's Association, Filmtools, B design solutions, Kari Koerper - Make up artist, Movie Magic Screenwriters /Dramatica Pro, The Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films, Chop Shop, Creative Handbook, Michael's Bar and Grill, Spike and Mike's Festival of Animation, Pasta Pomodoro, Dot Studios, P.A. Boot Camp, Monster, Fuji Film, Diva Shop, AMC Independent, ESP Guitars and Bases, Kogeto Dot, Entertainment Partners, Coffin Case, Brown Paper Tickets, Holiday Inn, Ashley Furniture and Home Store, Phemon, Shout It Out Promotions, Shakey's Burbank, The Colony Theatre, Clear Channel Outdoors, Bella FeFilms, Chocolate Discoveries, and attorneys LeClairRyan
November is submission time for the next year's festival, so get your pens and cameras ready. For more information go to www.burbankfilmfestival.org.