There's no need to book a ticket to Cannes, Venice or Toronto to see some of the best movies made by independent filmmakers. There will be 170 films, many of them never seen before, screened at the Burbank International Film Festival from Sept. 10 to 19.
Some of this year's participants are new to the industry. Others, like Burbank resident Mark Kirkland, have been seen on credit rolls for years — in Kirkland's case, as director of 65 episodes of TV's "The Simpsons." He has two entries. The first is something right up his alley, a two-minute animated short, "Animal Crackers," shot 32 years ago when the now-53-year-old Kirkland was a student at Cal Arts, and recently restored for a festival in Brazil.
Kirkland's live action product," A Letter from Home," chronicles the fate of members of the Greatest Generation who fought against Hitler's soldiers in Europe. As was the case with the 1965 film "Battle of the Bulge" starring Henry Fonda and Telly Savalas, the 10-minute long "Home" was shot at a snowy Big Bear. The script was inspired in part by the true life story of Kirkland's stepfather, Omer D. "Whit" Whitwell, leader of a rifle platoon in Europe, whose bravery earned him three Purple Hearts and two Silver Star medals for valor.