Wayne Federman’s film fest lets comedians run the show
Wayne Federman is a comic, actor and writer who has performed on “The Tonight Show” and appeared in such films and TV series as “The 40-Year-Old Virgin,” “The Larry Sanders Show” and “Curb Your Enthusiasm.”
And he may be the only comic who has his own annual international film festival.
The film buff got the idea for the Wayne Federman International Film Festival after he saw comic and actor Patton Oswalt present a screening in 2008 at the New Beverly Cinema of the 2006 comedy “The Fist Foot Way.”
“I was learning about the film through the eyes of a comedian,” noted Federman. “I thought this might be a fun thing to do: to have comedians pick films they loved and were inspired by. Comedians, when you put them in front of a crowd, tend to be funny, so I thought it was a good match-up.”
First he had to find a venue.
“Los Angeles and New York were the only places we could do this kind of festival because of the talent and proximity to these film collections and libraries,” Federman said.
A few years ago, Federman attended a birthday party screening of the 1966 feature film version of “Batman” for a writer friend at Cinefamily at the Silent Movie Theatre. He had found the right place for his festival.
After pitching Cinefamily on the idea, he went to Garry Shandling. Federman had played his brother on “The Larry Sanders Show.”
“I told him the idea and his face lit up,” recalled Federman. “He said, ‘I would love to show ‘The King of Comedy’ [a Martin Scorsese-directed dark comedy starring Robert De Niro].’ I scheduled it around his availability.”
Besides Shandling, the first festival featured Andy Kindler presenting Albert Brooks’ 1981 romantic comedy, “Modern Romance”; Kevin Pollak chatting about the 1979 comedy “The In-Laws”; Paul F. Tompkins discussing Mike Leigh’s 1999 “Topsy-Turvy”; and Margaret Cho talking about John Schlesinger’s 1965 British drama, “Darling,” starring Julie Christie in her Oscar-winning performance.
“It went really well,” said Federman, who interviews all the comics. “Watching Garry Shandling watch ‘The King of Comedy’ and talk about it and how it informed ‘The Larry Sanders Show,’ I felt you really got to learn about the person.”
Subsequent festivals have attracted the likes of Sarah Silverman (“Crimes and Misdemeanors”), Aziz Anzari (“Back to the Future”) and Jeff Garlin (“Sweet Smell of Success”).
The fourth edition of the festival kicks off Thursday with its first NC-17 selection, the 2010 Danish comedy “Klown,” presented by Sacha Baron Cohen.
“I have not only never seen it, I have never heard of it,” Federman admitted. “I thought he was going to pick up some Peter Sellers movie or a Monty Python. So this was out of the blue. I couldn’t be more thrilled.”
Comic Doug Benson, who appears at Cinefamily’s theater with his Doug Benson Movie Interruption program, will present Blake Edwards’ 1961 classic, “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” on Friday. “He said, ‘I’ve never seen it,’” Federman said. “It gets him a chance to see the movie. Myself, Doug and a few other comedians will interrupt the movie as it’s playing and do funny commentary.”
Comic-actor Paul Scheer (“Fresh Off the Boat,” “The League”), who hosts the popular movie podcast “How Did This Get Made?,” will present the 1984 comedy classic “Ghostbusters.”
“It’s one of my favorite movies,” Scheer said. “I did see it when it came out at the drive-in when I was 8 or 9 years old.... I have seen ‘Ghostbusters’ once or twice with a crowd, and its always fun.”
Chris Hardwick (“The Nerdist,” “The Talking Dead”) will screen the 1985 Chevy Chase comedy “Fletch” on Saturday night, with Will Forte presenting the 2010 comedy “MacGruber,” in which he stars, later that night.
Lauren Lapkus (“Orange Is the New Black”) will be on hand Sunday evening with Penny Marshall’s 1988 hit, “Big,” starring Tom Hanks, and Kumail Nanjiani (“Silicon Valley”) will present the 2005 British horror film “The Descent” on Sunday night.
Federman has discovered that the audience is a true hybrid of stand-up comedy fans and film geeks.
“We get both crowds. I think the real appeal of the festival is getting to see somebody be passionate about something they like.”
The 4th Annual Wayne Federman International Film Festival
Where: Cinefamily at Silent Movie Theatre, 611 N. Fairfax Ave., Los Angeles
Thursday: “Klown” at 7:30 p.m.
Friday: “Doug Benson Movie Interruption: Breakfast at Tiffany’s” at 7:30 p.m. and “Ghostbusters” at 10:30 p.m.
Saturday: “Fletch” at 7 p.m.; “MacGruber” at 10:15 p.m.
Sunday: “Big” at 7:30 p.m.; “The Descent” at 10:30 p.m.
Price: Admission is $14; free for Cinefamily members.
Only good movies
Get the Indie Focus newsletter, Mark Olsen's weekly guide to the world of cinema.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.