Credit goes where credit is due
The other "oddball" American
Ben Johnson is my partner in Itchy Rodent Films. Those of you who have seen “Kaval Park” will remember the cute rat intro. It has gotten a few laughs from our audience. Ben used to have a rat for a pet when he was little. I have never asked him, but its name might have been Itchy.
Credit goes where credit is due! After showing “Kaval Park” to executive producers Bulgarian Cultural Society PCHELA (also our test audience) in late may of 2022, we knew we had a very special movie on our hands. What we didn’t know was how we would accomplish the impossible. How would we get the film out there - to you? This is when Ben stepped in and said, “We will have Itchy Rodent Films help distribute the film.” And ta-da! Here we are - 35 showings later still on a world tour.
Strange, isn't it, how the “Kaval Park” world tour has been possible in large because of another oddball American just like Alexandr Eppler. Unlike Alexander, Ben has never been to Bulgaria and while he has heard me play the kaval on his film sets, I don’t imagine he holds our music as close to his heart as Eppler did.
But what Ben and I have in common is a profound love for cinema! A love so strong that we cannot imagine our lives without making movies. A love that transcends our different cultural and social backgrounds. It was this love, nurtured through 24 years of combined filmmaking, that drew us together to become partners in Itchy Rodent Films.
“Kaval Park” has been so much in the limelight that I’ve not had a chance to tell you about the recent success we had with the first film we made under Itchy Rodent Films. It is a short film called “Embers.” Ben wrote and directed the film and I produced it. We filmed over three days in the fall of 2021.
In 2022 “Embers” was accepted in 62 film festivals around the world. Our film has been shown in Germany, Ireland, Italy, France, Brazil and the US to name a few of the countries.
Yes, I’m including all the festivals here because this is as huge of a success as any and I’m so proud of our accomplishment: Florence Film Awards, Arrow International Film Festival, Chicago Indie Film Awards, Beyond Earth Film Festival, Crown Point International Film Festival, Unitaly International Film Festival, Cannes International Shorts, Philadelphia Cinema Awards, Boston Independent Film Awards, Cannes International Cinema Festival, Amsterdam Short Film Festival, Golden Giraffe International Film Festival, Rome Movie Awards, Film in Focus, Snohomish Film Festival, Top Shorts, Luis Bunuel Memorial Awards, Thilsri International Film Festival, Delhi Indus Valley Global Cinefest, Mumbai Tripvill International Film Festival, Cineville Calcutta Global Cinefest, Rohip International Film Festival, Festigious Los Angeles - Monthly Film Competition, Madras Independent Film Festival, Nashville Independent Filmmakers Festival, Santa Barbara Film Awards, Fox International Film Festival, Austin International Art Festival, Rotterdam Independent Film Festival, Rio de Janeiro World Film Festival, Roma Shorts, Berlin Shorts Award, Washington Film Awards, Milan Gold Awards, Hollywood Gold Awards, Venice Shorts, 8 & Halfilm Awards, Stockholm City Film Festival, Naples Film Awards, Los Angeles Film Awards, Golden Harvest Film Festival, International Moving Film Festival, Anatolia International Film Festival, Independent Shorts Awards, Chicago Filmmaker Awards, Hollywood International Golden Age Festival, Munich Short Film Awards, Praque Underground Film Festival, Los Angeles Independent Film Festival Awards, Dublin World Film Festival, Hong Kong Indie Film Festival, Dubai Independent Film Festival, Swedish International Film Festival, New York Independent Cinema Awards, Berlin International Art Film Festival, Feel The Reel International Film Festival, New York Movie Awards, Stardust Films and Screenplays Festival, Red Movie Awards, Your Way International Film Festival, Florence Film Awards and Paris Film Awards!
In addition, “Embers” has won a bunch of awards including a Venice Shorts Best Producer award for my contribution:
Washington Film Awards (Best Child Actress, Piper Saunders)
Milan Gold Awards (Silver Awards for Actress, Bianca Raso, and Cinematography, David Burns, plus an Honorable Mention for Benjamin Ross Johnson)
Hollywood Gold Awards (Silver Award for Cinematography, David Burns)
Venice Shorts (Best Producer, Bogdan Darev)
Stockholm City Film Festival (Best Cinematography, David Burns)
Naples Film Awards (Best Indie Short Film)
Golden Harvest Film Festival (Best Drama)
Thank you for taking the time to read this far! It was important to acknowledge the big talent of my friend Ben and his support in getting “Kaval Park” out to you!
We’ve confirmed a showing of “Kaval Park” in Strafford, PA on the 11th of February, a week earlier, on the 4th, is our premiere in Chicago.
Happy New Year from Seattle!
Thank you Bogdan! You have quite a bit of talent yourself, my friend.
You know, I never knew I was an oddball. I guess it's never too late to learn. XD My rat's name when I was a kid was actually "Ian." but "Itchy" would've worked too. ;) I'm thrilled to see what life and cinema has in store for both of us in the years ahead.
It's an honor to work with you, man.