Sunday, June 14, 2009 | 9:47 a.m.
Sun CineVegas Coverage
With so many films on the 2009 CineVegas docket, choosing which ones to go to see can be a daunting task. Meanwhile, the competition between films to attract audiences can be tough, too.
As a result, this year’s festival has seen more than its fair share of schmoozing in the CVHQ lounge, handing out of fliers to passers-by, and chatting up open ears in drink lines across the Palms.
Amidst the oftentimes shameless campaigning, however, one film in particular stood out, in terms of promotion, at least.
Not only did “Asylum Seekers” find a place on the Palms’ marquee on Flamingo Road, the film’s tenacious public relations representatives arranged for a wedding on the red carpet before the screening, and a party at the Rio afterward, too.
While the post-screening party at McFadden’s was easy enough (many of the festival’s films have been hosting post-premiere parties), the wedding seemed rather out of place.
After all, there was no wedding in the film and no Las Vegas connection, either – and it was on a red carpet outside Brenden Theaters.
Still, director Rania Ajami said two institutions, the institution of marriage and the mental institution in which the majority of film is set, were sufficient bonding agents – and so, the PR function was born.
While some might argue that the wedding/loony bin connection was a stretch, the red carpet wedding that preceded the screening served its function: It attracted a crowd.
Houston, Texas, residents Richard Spiller, 25, and Ashley Matthews, 21, were married just after 3 p.m. Saturday afternoon.
The bridal party consisted of five curvaceous members of the Sin City Bad Girls and four bare-chested and chiseled Chippendales dancers, while an Elvis impersonator served as the best man.
After they said their “I do's,” members of Thunder From Down Under and the Fantasy Girls followed them down the aisle – er, red carpet. Members of the cast also strutted for the cameras and crowd.
The bride wore a full-length white gown while the groom wore a beige suite, blue dress shirt and a white tie.
The bridal party, meanwhile, wore fire engine red velour bootyshorts, matching cropped zip-up jackets, fishnet stockings and black lace-up go-go boots with red flame accents.
The groomsmen, meanwhile, wore the standard Chippendale’s uniform which, of course, is not all that much at all: pants and a bow tie.
While the wedding was hardly one for the fairytale books, it was one for the record books: It was the first red carpet CineVegas wedding the festival’s 11-year history.
The bride admitted it wasn’t exactly the sort of white wedding little girls dream of but said it was still what just what she and her new husband had in mind.
“We just wanted something fun,” she said moments after exchanging her vows.
She and Spiller were engaged in November and contacted the Little White Wedding Chapel in April to arrange their nuptials.
While they were originally looking for a classic Vegas-style wedding and intended to tie the knot at the chapel, Matthews said the famed chapel contacted them a few weeks ago to ask if she and her fiancé would be willing to have their wedding elsewhere.
“They just called us two weeks ago and asked us if we’d do it,” she said.
The blushing bride said she had no idea why they were chosen as the couple for the ceremony.
“We were just the lucky ones,” she said.
A few hours after the wedding, the “Asylum Seekers” couple reappeared across the street at the Rio, where they cut their wedding cake and posed for pictures at the film’s post-screening party at McFadden's Irish pub.
Members of the cast and crew also attended the reception and sipped a few “Asylum Seeker” cocktails.
One of the film’s enterprising spokespeople, John Casey, said GQ magazine recently noted Red Bull’s recently-released and already-controversial cola and thought the energy drink was a perfect fit for Ajami’s film.
The emerging director was named one of Filmmaker Magazine’s “25 New Faces of Indie Film.”
“GQ magazine named (Red Bull Cola) one of the top 50 things to look forward to in 2009,” he said.
“It said, in the article, for you crazy mother (expletives), to mix it with J.D. and I thought, that’s an ‘Asylum Seeker’.”
They have introduced the cocktail at several college bars throughout the Northeast in an effort to promote the film with young, hip audiences that Casey, Ajami and the film’s other producers think will connect with youthful themes in the fantasy-comedy.
Palms Casino Resort has come a long way since its "Real World" debut in 2002. The boutique property features three distinct towers and a diverse mix of bars and restaurants across a 95,000-square-foot casino.
Palms, which features more than 1,200 rooms and fantasy suites, is currently undergoing a multi-million dollar transformation that will encompass an Ivory Tower room and suite redesign, new culinary additions, re-imagined gaming spaces and new, distinctive nightlife experiences.
In addition to newly designed rooms, during the first phase of the renovation, Palms will welcome Heraea, a high-energy American restaurant and lounge, and XISHI, a pan-Asian restaurant and lounge.
Fantasy Suites include the Hardwood Suite, the only hotel room in the world with its own basketball court.
Other amenities include the all-new Cantor Gaming® race and sports book, one of the few sports books in Las Vegas to include a poker room; SOCIAL; Scarlet; Chocolat Bistro; tonic bar; ghostbar; Pearl Concert Theater; Moon Nightclub; N9NE Steakhouse; Nove Italiano; Simon Restaurant & Lounge; Palms Pool & Bungalows; Kim Vō Salon; Drift Spa & Hammam; Brenden Theatres, a 14-theatre cineplex and more than 60,000 square-feet of meeting space.