Utah’s homegrown celebration of offbeat movies, the Bicknell International Film Festival, is returning after a COVID-19 break with a world premiere of a movie directed by maverick filmmaker Trent Harris.
The festival — which bears the motto “better living through bad cinema” — is scheduled for Friday and Saturday, July 23 and 24, at the Bicknell Theatre in Bicknell, according to an announcement by the Entrada Institute.
Bicknell sits in rural Wayne County, in south-central Utah, about 10 miles west of the entrance to Capitol Reef National Park.
Harris was one of the festival’s founders, back in 1995, when it was established as a hip alternative to the Days of ’47 festivities in Salt Lake City. It was called “international” because Harris brought along a friend from Russia to the inaugural festival.
The festival’s opening night will feature Harris’ 1991 directing debut, “Rubin and Ed.” The cult classic, filmed in such Utah locations as Goblin Valley and Salt Lake City, stars Crispin Glover as an introvert in platform shoes who enlists a hapless salesman (Howard Hesseman) to help him bury his dead cat.
In 1987, Glover made headlines when he appeared on “Late Night With David Letterman” as the Rubin character, platform shoes and all — and attempted a karate kick that almost clocked Letterman in the head, prompting Letterman to walk off the set.
On the festival’s second and final night, on Pioneer Day, Harris will present the world premiere of “Echo People,” which he says is a sequel to “Rubin and Ed” — though without Glover or Hesseman in the cast.
The stars of “Echo People” are both familiar to fans of Harris’ films. Stefene Russell had the lead role in Harris’ 1995 science-fiction spoof “Plan 10 From Outer Space,” where she played a reporter who uncovers an alien invasion led by the spurned 27th wife of Brigham Young (played by the late Karen Black). Pat Collins had roles in both “Rubin and Ed” and “Plan 10 From Outer Space.”
The Friday screening, set for 7 p.m., will be preceded by a caravan from Torrey — where Entrada Institute is based — to Bicknell, an 8-mile drive on Utah Highway 24. A costume contest and door prizes are part of the festivities.
Saturday’s events include a forum featuring Harris, Russell and Collins, at Robbers Roost in Torrey, starting at 10:30 a.m.
Tickets for the festival are $20 per screening, $10 for the forum, or $35 for a full-access pass. Tickets are on sale at entradainstitute.org.