Las Vegas Sun

October 19, 2018

Currently: 81° — Complete forecast


What: Dam Short Film Festival

When: Today through Sunday (day and evening screenings)

Where: American Legion Hall, 508 California Ave., and Boulder Dam Hotel, 1305 Arizona St.

Tickets: $5 per program, $40 for four-day pass; or 293-4848

Movie buffs are converging in Boulder City to sample the cinematic cornucopia known as the Dam Short Film Festival.

The four-day celebration of shorts opens today with screenings at the American Legion Hall.

The festival is hosted by the Dam Short Film Society, a small group formed a few years ago by Lee and Anita Lanier.

Lee Lanier is no slouch. He has shown his work in more than 200 festivals, worked for Pacific Data Images/DreamWorks and on the animated films "Shrek" and "Antz," before moving to Boulder City and taking a job with the Art Institute of Las Vegas. The film festival is his passion.

Expect showcases of vintage, international, dramatic, comedic, animation, horror, avant-garde and documentary shorts. If movie synopses on the festival Web site aren't enough to juice the imagination - "The crazy dream of a grocery store clerk," "A man numbers his lover's many moods," "Barry has too much fun at the Cabaret" - here are five short reasons to attend the third-annual Dam Short Film Festival.

1. Sheer volume

No art house movie theaters, no problem. The Dam Short Film Festival transforms Boulder City's American Legion Hall into indie-land. Movies are projected on a 9-by-12-foot screen. If you don't see what you like on the schedule, you can buy a $20 pass to the Mini Film Market that allows you to see any film on the program, including films that weren't selected this year and films from past festivals. According to Lanier, there are more than 500 DVDs on the shelves.

2. Scope

Spend a weekend watching national and international shorts in the comfort of this sleepy American town. Friday afternoon's international showcase features stories from Iraq, Australia, England, Japan, Chile and Greece. See animated flicks by filmmakers from Israel, the Netherlands, Canada and the United Kingdom and by students and faculty from the Art Institute of Las Vegas.

New this year are "cutting-edge films" from the Underground Vegas Film Festival, shown late Friday night following a Nevada filmmaker showcase.

3. Horror

Not into heart-wrenching melodrama? Poetic imagery just too soft? Try a little gut-slicing horror. This year's festival features three horror showcases: "Monster Comedy" and "Beyond the Grave" today and a Saturday afternoon encore of zombie and horror shorts. There is even zombie comedy.

4. Vintage

Early Boulder City features in a lineup of "Vintage Documentaries," including an excerpt of a feature film shot at the dam and a flick of the city fire department showing its new technologies and clowning around, both shot in 1934. Even family films figure in the mix. Where else can you see a 1957 family vacation around the dam with a Kodachrome camera that captured some impressive views of Southern Nevada? "They got to places that you just can't get to now," Lanier says.

5. Nice getaway

There's nothing like an afternoon in Boulder City to take you away from it all.

Tree-lined streets, older homes, actual neighborhoods and coffee shops await you. With the festival headquartered at the Boulder Dam Hotel, everything is within walking distance. Heck, call the Sands Motel and get a room. Or, just drive out for a day. It's not as far as you think - 25 miles from downtown Las Vegas.

Lanier says, "We want to get more and more Las Vegas people out. Some people have never been here and they think it's near Pahrump."