By Shelby Parker
The red carpet was rolled out and ready to go Friday, Nov. 8 at the Fox Theater, as Hollywood came to town for the first ever “Outside The Box” film festival. It is a three-day event that ran through Sun., Nov. 10, previewing and debuting films of all different genres.
Rick Davis, the co-producer of the festival, as well as the president of the Fox Theater Foundation said, “Bakersfield has been home to local film festivals for years,” but this is the first national fest that has been held in town.
With so many travelers coming to Bakersfield, it was a great way to showcase the city and all that it has to offer.
Davis said, “People coming from all over the country helps our image.”
He adds that it’s also helpful from an economic standpoint, because tourists are staying in the hotels and eating at local restaurants here. He joked about the old saying, “Bring ‘em here, make ‘em happy, run up their Visa, send ‘em home.” So far, it seems to be working.
There were 44 entries from all different parts of the country, including people from Southern California, Pennsylvania, Chicago, Alabama, Utah and even Toronto.
Several celebrities also participated in the event, like Michael O’Hara, Joe Mantegna from “Criminal Minds” and Joey Travolta, brother to John Travolta and an actor himself.
Travolta had showcased a movie at the Fox Theater last year. He runs a practical film workshop to help people with developmental disabilities and teaches them the art of filmmaking. That includes working with cameras, lighting, and scripts. So, he thought they would come up with something that was “the size of a hamster,” and it ended up turning into an event, “the size of a herd of elephants.” They wanted to bring a first rate film festival to the area, and it looks like they succeeded.
The night started off with a history of Hollywood and a look back at how the city has changed. Peggy Darling from Spotlight Theatre told the story of how her grandfather’s barn was used to help Cecil B. Demille make the first motion picture, “Squaw Man,” and turned it into the first major studio, Paramount. She described “Hollywood” at the time as being a very small country town.
Joey Travolta also showed his movie, “The Heart of Tango”, Friday evening. It is a documentary that follows four young men, three who have autism and one who has Down’s Syndrome, as they are paired with four other strangers to learn the dance style of tango. It’s a beautiful film on how the art of dance can help people connect with one another.
Lastly, Joe Mantegna’s film, “Choc’late Soldiers from the USA” premiered. It told the story of 140,000 black American soldiers and some of the struggles they faced during their time of service to our country at that time.
Davis said that he hopes the audience “furthers their appreciation for creativity” after this weekend and also adds that “a world without art would be a pretty boring place.” This was the perfect event for people to express their passion and creativity.
“The driving force is the passion, and this is the start to get to that Hollywood level,” Davis said.