Even though Hunter S. Thompson set up the panel discussion on art and film at the 2003 CineVegas Film Festival, he didn’t show up. But “The World’s Most Dangerous Film Festival” wasn’t about to let him off the hook that easily. Embodying the madcap spirit that Thompson himself saw in Sin City, administrators sent a golf cart and two showgirls up to his room to escort him to the world premiere of longtime Thompson friend (and neighbor) Wayne Ewing’s documentary, Breakfast with Hunter.
Now in its tenth year, the CineVegas Film Festival continues to celebrate its renegade personality with daring films that push boundaries. Yet while the films may be edgy, the festival itself treats its moviemakers with old-fashioned respect. “CineVegas is a specialty festival, showing only 30 feature films and 30 shorts. This allows us to give every single one of our films and filmmakers a high profile in the festival,” says Trevor Groth, CineVegas’ artistic director (and senior programmer at the Sundance Film Festival).
Moviemaker Joy Dietrich, who won the Special Jury Award winner for Best Director in 2007 for her film, Tie a Yellow Ribbon, says that the festival is small enough that she got to know Groth and Mike Plante, associate director of programming, on a personal level. “The warmth of the people running the festival, the access you had to them and the power of Dennis Hopper to lure A-list actors to the fest were all incredible,” she says. Hopper has served as the Chair of the Creative Advisory Board since he received CineVegas’ Marquee Award in 2003.
Yet despite all the prestige, CineVegas, like the city that hosts it, is full of unpredictable fun. Says Randy Walker, director of 2006 festival feature Apart from That, “It is the only festival where you can be seated poolside and see a girl wearing a T-shirt that says, ‘Tell your boyfriend I said thanks.’”
The 10th annual CineVegas Film Festival will take place June 12-21 at the Palms Casino Resort and Brenden Theatres. CineVegas is accepting submissions until March 15th at www.withoutabox.com. For more information, visit www.cinevegas.com.