Ten years ago, comedian and actor Wayne Federman (Legally Blonde, 40-Year-Old Virgin, Step Brothers) went to The Simpsons writer Rob Cohen’s birthday screening of his favorite movie, 1966’s Batman, at Cinefamily and had an idea. “It was so cool,” says Federman. “I thought, maybe I can host a weekend of that, with comedians presenting their favorite movies.” The result is the Wayne Federman International Film Festival, currently in its fourth year, which kicks off this week. This year’s line-up features, among others, Sacha Baron Cohen, Will Forte, Lauren Lapkus, Kumail Najiani, and Doug Benson presenting their favorite movies at Cinefamily.
“The great thing about this is that you learn something about the comedian who is presenting his or her favorite movie,” says Federman. “You find out what they really love and are inspired by.” Past festivals at Cinefamily have included presentations by Kathy Griffin, Margaret Cho, Aziz Anzari, and Sarah Silverman, to name a few. “Bill Burr screened The Dirty Dozen and told the audience about how he used to watch that with his dad. Kathy Griffin presented The Dead Zone, which was kind of surprising. The oldest film we’ve shown was Bank Dick, which T.J. Miller picked. That was just beautiful.”
One of this year’s presenters is actress and comedian Lauren Lapkus (whom you might know from Orange is the New Black and Are You There, Chelsea?), who will screen the 1988 Tom Hanks classic Big. “It’s my all time favorite,” says Lapkus, who will appear in the new Jurassic World movie later this year and also has a TBS show in the works. “I always wanted to be an adult as a kid, but the movie is really all about that feeling of when you’re an adult but you still haven’t figured it out.”
Federman is excited to see all the screenings but particularly Doug Benson’s Movie Interruption. “He’s known for being the pot smoking comedian,” says Federman, “but he’s one of the most knowledgeable comedians I know on the subject of movies. He does this thing where he sits with three or four other comedians and they do a running commentary as the movie is being shown. He’s screening Breakfast at Tiffany’s, which he hasn’t seen yet, so that should be interesting.”
As for his own favorite movies, Federman says he’s a traditionalist. “The comedians do the programming. My choices would be boring. Well, not boring, but conventional. My favorite movies are the ones on the AFI top one hundred list.” If he had to pick one to screen, though, it would be Beyond The Valley of the Dolls (1970). “I never saw it when it came out, but I saw it a movie revival house in New York later. The amazing thing is that it was written by Roger Ebert and then directed by Russ Meyer,” he says. “I guess you would call it a sex comedy. That’s definitely something outside of the classics.”
The Fourth Annual Wayne Federman International Film Festival kicks off March 5 at Cinefamily.