Alpha Blair – Credit: Bobbi Stamm
Group photo: Tablemate Winners (L-R) Writer Alpha Blair, Actress Amy Castle, DP and Assoc. Producer Roberto E. Lepe, and Director Maria Calvardo – Courtesy photo
On Sept. 7, 2014, “The Seduction of Auntie Rose,” a feature script by local writer Alpha Blair, won for Best Original Screenplay in the 6th Annual Burbank International Film Festival (BIFF) at a star-studded gala at Burbank’s beautiful Castaway Restaurant. Just a week before, her new short screenplay, “Dancing in the Age of Paranoia,” won for Best Short in the 10th Annual Action on Film (AOF) International Film Festival in Monrovia, CA.
“To be singled out in the company of so many terrific talents is both a humbling and extraordinarily encouraging honor,” said Alpha. “You feel so grateful to be included, but you don’t expect to still be standing when the glitter settles at the awards dinner – so it feels surreal as you hurry around the tables and up to the stage, hoping you’re not taking forever.”
Both of these dynamic Festivals offered a diverse array of narrative and documentary films, seminars – BIFF’S took place prior to the Festival at their educational partner, Woodbury University – special events and fun after-parties, and each had prominent hosts, honorees, and presenters. Yet they also have their own unique personalities, shaped by their directors and support teams, who work tirelessly to pull it all together.
The Action On Film Festival was created by filmmaker Del Weston to showcase underrepresented films, particularly in the action genre. It soon expanded to include all genres and to honor both established artists and on-the-rise Indies. Because it all begins with the words, AOF also puts strong emphasis on writers. AOF’s screenings were at the Krikorian Theater complex in scenic Monrovia, and its charitable events, seminars, and Writers Award Dinner at charming nearby restaurants, while its Black Tie Filmmakers Awards Gala was held at the Hilton Pasadena. Among those honored were actress and farm animal advocate Doris Roberts (“Everybody Loves Raymond”), who received the Legends Award, actor-writer-producer Jim Piddock of HBO’s “Family Trees,” and consummate actor Richard Gant.
The Burbank International Film Festival, headed by award-winning filmmaker and actor Jeff Rector, takes place in Historic Downtown Burbank – which some call the real “Hollywood,” since it was home to some of the seminal beginnings of the film industry in California and to the creation of many early major films. Screenings were held at both the AMC Town Center 6 and the AMC 16 theaters, with after-parties at nearby venues. NBC’s Fritz Coleman hosted the Awards Gala, where pioneers of the industry were honored, including master animators Ron Clements and John Musker, who wrote and directed such classics as “The Little Mermaid.” Presenters included artists who are carrying the torch of creativity and innovation forward today, among them writer-director Shane Black (“Iron Man 3”) and Oscar Nominee June Squibb (“Nebraska”).
Alpha’s feature screenplay, “The Seduction of Auntie Rose,” is a sexy, spirited story about gaining the courage to create the life you really want, while her short, “Dancing in the Age of Paranoia,” is about a traumatized victim who becomes a victimizer.
Winning awards at these events can give credibility to up-and-coming writers and gain industry interest in their projects, but it wasn’t just about the competitions for Alpha. “I attended as many screenings, seminars, and events as I could,” she says. “I actually love film festivals and feel they provide a great service to their communities because they expose us to such a varied range of voices. How we ‘talk’ to each other through our films can educate and enlighten, lead to greater understanding and compassion, and, hopefully, to a more fair and peaceful world – even while we’re being entertained!”