Film Festivals


Ed Asner and Kevin McKenna

Once more, for the eighth year strata, I would like to congratulate International Student Film Festival Hollywood president Robin Saban and festival director Dorothy Surpi on a truly wonderful film festival and a lot of fun. I’ve been volunteering for and entering festivals since film school at the San Francisco Art Institute way back in the 1970’s. An actress I liked at the time was a volunteer usher at the San Francisco Film Festival and suggested I volunteer. I did and got the girl and saw a lot of real good films for free. I also entered some short films in some small festivals at the time and won a couple. As a result, film festivals have always been fun for me.

In 2003 the student festival’s first year, I was asked to be a judge in the documentary category. My friend Gene Brunstein, who was a writer and producer on the hit TV show Who’s The Boss, called me and asked if I join him in being a judge. I was so impressed by Robin’s dedication to young filmmakers I promptly accepted a seat on the festival’s board of directors. The board believes that by combining our efforts to aid student filmmakers both here and abroad we bring the world of cinema closer together and also contribute in helping to unite the world through the art of film.

This year’s International Student Film Festival Hollywood again received hundreds of submissions from over many countries. The festival screened middle school, high school and college students worldwide. Film screenings took place at the historic Beverly Garland Hotel. The festival presents an outstanding platform for the student filmmaker to increase the exposure of their work; and also for the pubic to discover some amazing new talent. These student filmmakers are the future of cinema and this might be the public’s only opportunity to see their amazing work before they become really big. This festival is a great place to network and meet other people who are into films and filmmaking.

Also, each year, the festival honors a member of the Hollywood community for their outstanding achievements in the art of filmmaking. Past honorees have included Michael Greenspan, A.C. Lyles, Mike Medavoy, Bonnie Bruckhemier, Lainie Kazan, Jennifer Lynch and a special award to James Coburn in 2003.

This year we honored Iris Yamashita, who was a Golden Globe winner for her screen play Letters From Iwo Jima. She has also been nominated for four Academy Awards. I would like to thank the great actor Ed Asner for speaking to the students filmmakers about the fine art of show business.

Remember, it’s not easy to change the world, but, in time, one step at a time, one town at a time, maybe we can, so let’s take that first small step and go the distance.

Kevin McKenna is an award winning filmmaker and the executive director of IDEAS (Investigative Documentaries Educating American Society), If you have any comments, ideas or need more information on how you can help or contribute call him at (818) 588-3047 or e-mail

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