If you look up Elko, NV on a map, the first thing you notice is how isolated the small, 18,000-person town is. A silver mining outpost 100 miles from the Utah border, there are no cities of any real size within a three hours’ drive. And this is exactly why I decided to attend the 2nd Annual Ruby Mountain Film Festival, which ran from September 27-30, 2012.
The recent birth of my daughter has made traveling difficult, so I’d only been able to attend a handful of the festivals that programmed my film,
Satellite of Love. I had an inkling, however, that a trip to a small festival off the beaten path might afford some much needed ‘me’ time—and perhaps a little adventure. What I found, after a pleasant, contemplative drive into Elko from the Salt Lake City airport, were filmmakers from all over the world coming to check out the Ruby Mountain Film Festival: A British journalist who was in the States because of an Emmy nomination he received for his coverage of Syria; a South African filmmaker who was premiering her documentary in America for the first time; and a number of folks who had traveled a considerably greater distance than I had on my meager jaunt from Texas.
The festival took place at the center of town in the Elko Convention Center. An opening night gala provided a window into the cowboy culture of the region (after all, Elko is also home to the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering), and later that night my film screened in the beautiful Lauren Moren Theater to an attentive and engaged audience. The following day a festival volunteer—who’d moved his entire family to Elko to complete his own film—picked a few of us up from the hotel and took us on a hike through the Ruby Mountains. That night after the last screening, all of the filmmakers participated in a festival-sponsored poker tournament.
What the Ruby Mountain Film Festival succeeded in doing so spectacularly was providing me, as an attending filmmaker, an opportunity to not only screen and share my work, but to relax and get to know my peers in a unique setting. It was an adventure well worth embarking on, and I hope to make the trip again soon.