Viva Las Vegas Film Festival

Viva Las Vegas Film Festival

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Las Vegas has been known forever as the "Entertainment Capital of the World," It is emblazoned on Convention and Visitor's Bureau letterheads and sloganed in TV commercials. Vegas has come a long way since just T&A shows filled the Strip showrooms. Now we are family entertainment, too! The city has it's own orchestra; Artemis Ham Hall at the University presents world-class concerts, stage plays and lecture series. An with Vegas so close to Hollywood (360 miles), Sin City is a natural and sunny draw for film shooting and film festival viewing..

The newest Vegas film festival arrival is the New York International Independent Film and Video Festival. What the new draw lacks in quality films, it makes up in sheer volume of screenings at the Brenden Theaters at the new Palms Hotel and Casino, akimbo to the Strip. The festival has been held for over eight years in New York, and I hope it catches on in this uncultured landscape, because the potential for it is enormous. Even though the screenings are limited to one theater, each day saw over 10 films at two hour intervals. Four films were actually produced, filmed or written for Vegas, by Vegans: 'Grip' by Vegas filmmaker Ron Atkins; the premier of 'Angel Blade,' by Michael Hemenway who is presently shooting his latest local opus, 'Terror on the Strip'; tennis docudrama featuring local home town tennis hack Andre Agassi in 'Beyond the Baseline'; and 'If I Could,' a documentary about social problems.

More than 150 short and full-length films from 4,000 entrants were picked to be screened at the NYIIFVF event at the Vegas stop of tbe festival, which was also presented in New York and Los Angeles.

The Nevada Film Commission presented a short seminar on screenwriter tips that could have been covered in a flyer. Nothing was in-depth at Screenwriting 101. But the Commission offers a yearly film-writing contest on Nevada-based possible film subjects. This year's winner was submitted three times, rewritten, and finally won with the changed title, 'Cape Nevada', a Sci Fi wannabe that the Commission assisted in optioning to Hollywood.

Vegas is coming together and receiving acclaim as a film center, location venue, and film festival draw. Even former mob lawyer and now Las Vegas Mayor, Oscar Goodman, got in the act with a cameo in the prostitute murder mystery 'Angel Blade' that also featured washed-up casino mogul Bob Stupak. In fact, many former film legends and washouts turned up in this indie circuit, including Margot Kidder, from Superman fame, and Tippi Hendrin, an Alfred Hitchcock thespian. It goes to show that everyone wants to be a star on some level. Now the mayor wants to turn the former downtown post office into a Mob Museum, which should be a real calling card, and I am sure hizzoner's movie poster mug will be at the entrance, and he will be selling hot buttered popcorn, along with cheap D street wine. Can a Hoodlum Film Festival be far behind?

Las Vegas has increased its film noir allure beyond the green felt jungle film titles of yesteryear, such as 'Casino,' 'Viva Las Vegas' (Hey, Ann-Margaret still performs here), and other gambling genre offshoots. Red Rock Canyon and Valley of Fire are still great locales for Sci Fi thrillers and dopey westerns, so if you are hiking the trails, bring your video clips for a possible audition.

Revolution Film Works CEO and Executive Producer of Angel Blade presented a short seminar on film distribution during the festival; it was an insight in the difficulty of actually getting a film on the silver screen; indie filmmakers will know how to pay back all that money advanced on their credit cards to produce their brainchild.

Independent filmmaking, and viewing, is a strange mix of bad acting, low budgets, lousy lighting and sound, and ennui. Occasionally a gem pops through, but most celluloid should be left on the floor or the digital delete button hit with repetition. What most indie's need is a good eye for editing.

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Kriss Hammond, Jetsetters Magazine Correspondent Read Jetsetters Magazine at To book travel visit at and for Beach Resorts visit Beach Booker at

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Kriss Hammond, Jetsetters Magazine Correspondent. Join the Travel Writers Network in the logo at Leave your email next to the logo for FREE e travel newsletter.

Kriss Hammond