Out of the Box Bakersfield FIlm Festival held to benefit those with disablities


Vanessa Munoz

Fox Theater held the annual Bakersfield Film Festival. Created by Joey travolta, the festival helps those with disabilites

Vanessa Munoz, Photographer

Fox Theater lit up the night sky Nov. 7-9 as Bakersfield had its second annual Out of the Box Film Festival.

This festival commends and brings awareness to those with disabilities and not just in the films shown but with the filmmakers and producers who show their movie/documentary making skills as well. Over 52 clips from short movies, long documentaries, and photograph stories that inspired, uplifted, encouraged, and moved the audience.

Out of the Box Film Festival is one of two film awards that display and recognize those with disabilities, which was created in memory of Jett Travolta (the autistic son of actor John Travolta) whose uncle Joey Travolta helped create Out of the Box Film Festival.

Joey Travolta has long been involved with children who have special needs, creating a filming school called Inclusion Films. This school gives students with any kind of special needs a chance to create films and photos.

Many Inclusion Film students stood outside the Fox Theater with their cameras taking pictures and recording actors and producers as they walked the red carpet at the Film Festival. Most of the students had media tags around their neck with another tag that said their name and what special disability each one had.

Along with Travolta, Rick Davis is a producer of The Film Festival with more than 40 years of experience in the music and producing industry. Davis and Travolta are hoping to have created a long lasting benefit to those with disabilities by offering a chance to have their creative work acknowledged and awarded.

Some benefits of the Film Festival were the experienced movie and music personnel who love to share their connections, experience, and knowledge of their profession.

Guest speakers and judges of the festival varied from studio presidents, actors, writers, musicians, and creators/artist.

The keynote speaker on opening night was Mike Davis, senior VP of Universal Studios in Osaka, Japan. Davis is actually a Bakersfield native who first got into the film industry at a young age by performing with his brother Rick Davis at the Fox Theater. He expressed his admiration of movies and film by talking about the magic of movies and how they can affect people in their everyday life.

“Movies inspire people to take action,” Davis said. “From 90 minutes to maybe two hours, you can walk out of here, inspired to make a change in your life, a change in others, and that’s a powerful, powerful thing for the emotional connections that movies do provide for us.”

With many, many movies to choose from, the judges gave the Jett Travolta Vision award to “Go Far – The Christopher Rush Story” as the winner in the disability tracks of the film selections. The film was about a boy diagnosed with muscular dystrophy whose doctors said he would not live past 2 years old. He lived to the age of 30 and accomplished many goals, such as starting the “Go Far” motivation program.

The best in show award went to “Billy Mize and The Bakersfield Sound,” which is a non-cash award. This documentary was about one of Bakersfield’s legendary country musicians who paved the way for country music artist in the West Coast but was stopped in pursuant of his career due to severe heart and respiratory problems.

With three awards going toward the Veterans track, six awards for the Independent track, five awards to the Spiritual track, and six awards to the Development Disabilities track, there were 22 awards given out.

All those who helped bring the Film Festival event to life are hoping to keep this event going each year in hopes of bringing in more awareness and recognition to those with special needs.

All proceeds and donations collected from the Film Festival go toward funding special needs students who attend Inclusion Films BFF School.