CineVegas 2007: Two Days in the Desert

I love film festivals. I don’t care how big or small they are, whether they have films from around the world or just in that neck of the woods. The chance to discover something new before anyone else is so addictive, I will easily overextend my budget for the experience. And this was certainly true for the two days I was able to attend this year’s CineVegas Festival.

However, there is one part of film festivals I have attended that I do find sad, and that is the lack of community that usually surrounds these festivals. You get your tickets, you stand in line, you go into the theatre and you fraternize with the people you know as you wait for the film to start. Maybe you’ll have the courage to say hello to someone involved with the film as you leave, as the ushers for the festival are shooing you out the door so they can get the next group of people in for the next screening, which you might also have tickets for. In and out, back and forth, until your day is done. It’s not the fault of the film festivals, or the theatres, as very few venues have the kind of on-location space available to them to encourage socialization. The location of CineVegas, at a movie theatre next to a food court in a corner of a casino, is not an ideal place for cineastes to congregate and talk shop. In fact, there was such little scene that I became too easily distracted, skipping out on five of the nine movies I planned on seeing over the weekend.

On Saturday, I arrived a couple hours early for my first screening, mistaken that the film in question started at 11AM instead of 1PM. Rather than wait out the time alone in the food court, where I most definitely would have put the four pounds I’d lost in the previous back on in that two hour window, I headed over to the press room, where I could use their community computers to check my emails. Lo and behold, not a minute after I plunk myself down in the chair but a familiar face I had not seen in a dozen years sits herself right down next to me: Effie T. Brown, producer of “Rocket Science,” a Grand Jury Prize nominee at this year’s Sundance Film Festival and someone I was privileged to work besides for a couple years back in our younger days… or should I say my younger days, as she still looked absolutely fabulous, while it took her a moment (and a first name prompting) to see the younger me behind the graying hair and crow’s feet. We spoke for quite a long time, catching up on our lives and travels (not that I needed much updating on her part, as her ever blossoming career has been one I have been proudly tracking for years), who we’re still in touch with and vague possibilities of the sharing of food somewhere down the road. Being a member of the CineVegas jury, she had to run before we were done talking, and even more than anything I saw at the festival, catching up with this truly beautiful person would be the highlight whether I was there two days or ten.

As for the films I was able to catch, my review of “Choose Connor” is already available, and my reviews for “The Living Wake,” “Loren Cass” and “Look” will be available shortly.