The sixth annual Burbank International Film Festival aims to put the spotlight on the city's roots as “the media capital of the world,” says event president and director Jeff Rector.
“Warner Bros. was (one of) the very first studios in the world. And of course, with Walt Disney Studios, Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network, neighboring Universal Studios, ABC,” Rector said. “I think it's really unique to our positioning and who we have in our neighborhood.”
The festival, which runs Wednesday through Sept. 7 at the AMC Burbank 16 and AMC Burbank Town Center 6 theaters, has an ambitious program that includes many themed shorts collections, some area and even world feature premieres, nostalgic revivals accompanied by live events, eclectic awards, parties and more. Rector, a local actor/writer/producer/director and event promoter, says the emphasis will be on fun as opposed to the more stuffy atmosphere of festivals like Sundance and Toronto, which he nonetheless hopes to someday emulate in programming and prestige, if not attitude.
“What is different from other festivals, which kind of throw everything in a mishmash, is I've created different nights,” he explains. “Opening night is opening night for any festival, as is the closing night awards gala, but I have sci-fi and comedy and drama nights.
“For the night of sci-fi, fantasy and horror, ‘Star Trek' celebrities are coming out and we have cosplayers running around in costumes. I have some cool performances. It's fun; it's like Comic-Con without waiting in line.”
Saturday night's fantasy emphasis will include a screening of the classic 1956 space opera “Forbidden Planet,” complete with the film's iconic Robbie the Robot in attendance. Daytime Saturday is devoted to family films, and will highlight a 25th anniversary screening of “The Little Mermaid,” with her attending fans encouraged to dress up like Ariel. And just for fun, Saturday also will see the premiere of “Mercenaries,” a kind of female “Expendables” starring Brigitte Nielsen, Vivica A. Fox, Cynthia Rothrock and other formidable women.
Opening night shows include the documentary feature “Elvis: That's the Way It Is.” Thursday is devoted to comedy and drama. Friday's centerpiece feature is Daniel Baldwin's “Wisdom to Know the Difference,” which was no doubt informed by the actor and writer-director's long struggle with substance abuse.
Sunday will feature foreign and documentary shorts.
Sound cool and fun?
“That's my job,” Rector says with a laugh. “That's what I do.”