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'A truly international gathering'

Filmmakers from here and abroad show their movies at second annual Burbank festival.

September 04, 2010|By Steve Kindred

The festival is also a showcase for Internet videographers hoping to make it to the big time. One example is "We are the Punky Pets" — animated animal musicians from around the world competing in a Battle of the Bands in hopes of receiving a recording contract from one of the major labels. It's the brainchild of Glendale resident Charles Unger, 42, and his wife Paula, 39.

The film won top prizes at festivals in Canada and Hawaii. Three webisodes have garnered a sizeable following online, and the Ungers are already hard at work developing marketing tie-ins for the Punky Pets, including a line of toys and accessories. They hope the Burbank International Film Festival will be a launching pad for a series on network television. Charles Unger says the underlying theme of each program is unity through music.

"We think it's flashy, fun and great entertainment," he said. "Eight animated characters from around the world, jamming, We saw it as a breath of fresh air. Whenever you come from a unique place like this, you're going to stand out in some degree."


The Ungers' entry will be shown Sept. 16 at the AMC Town Center 6 in Burbank.

The festival costs $100,000, with no paid staff. Not even the Executive Producer Bobby Whitell is paid. He was determined to expand to multiple sites, abandoning last year's venue, Woodbury University, which was too far from any Hollywood-style amenities, last year's participants told him.

"The filmmakers wanted to have dinner, or get a drink at the local watering hole," Whitell said. "Based on the input we received from them, we moved it downtown."

The changes made it possible to screen 95 more films this year, and capture the flavor of the San Fernando Valley as well, he said.

"We wanted it to be a truly international gathering, with participants from as far away as Germany and Japan, but we also know that the Valley, and Burbank in particular, are integral parts of the motion picture industry," he said.


What: The Burbank International Film Festival

When: Sept. 10 to 19

Where: Screenings and seminars at AMC Town Center 6, Burbank High School, Video Symphony School of TV, Film and Audio, and Barney's Beanery in Burbank.

Tickets: Individual events vary; all festival events: $250; daily passes: $60

Contact: or call (818) 861-7270.

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