Wednesday, June 24, 2009

CineVegas is different than some film festivals – it has less movies! Ah, but the parties….

There were less than thirty movies this year. With working my real job (this!) and volunteering, I was under the gun to see the hits. I was pretty lucky. I saw three of the top festival films (Etienne!, Easier With Practice and Winnebago Man) and the almost impossible to get tickets to see closing night film, World’s Greatest Dad.

Winnebago Man was an odd film. I was unfamiliar with the sensation. Seems that everyone (except me) was familiar with this crazy guy who spits and swears while making a twenty year old industrial film about how wonderful Winnebago’s are to own. A man named Jack Rebney is Winnebago Man. These are the outtakes and tirades pieced together by the video crew that Mr. Rebney had hired to assist in making a promotional video for marketing RVs. There are several versions of the original on YouTube. This one runs over 4 minutes and features Winnebago Man's hatred for flies and several long swearing and cursing montages. . It has millions of hits.

I did not quite get it. I think this because I was unsure through the first third of the film if it was a documentary or a mockumentary. It took a while for me to realize the scope of the impact of this “found” footage. To me, the film lacked structure. On the other hand, the audience certainly responded. It got the audience favorite. There was a Vegas connection in the film, also. Although the featured subject of the film was not at the festival, his best friend came. Turns out he lives in Vegas. I met him, but it took a few minutes for me to realize who he was. We chatted for a while. He is quite an interesting character in his own right.

I was not particularly impressed with Robin William’s World’s Greatest Dad. I spoke with the director, Bob Goldthwait in the theater after the Q&A. He felt the Vegas crowd was too mature for the film. Having been a comedian, only he could put Vegas and mature in the same sentence and still keep a straight face. He said he had just shown the film to a young audience in Maryland in a theater with 700 seats. They went wild and gave him a standing ovation. He was surprised at the cool reception the film got that night.

The highlight of the festival was the real closing night film. On Monday, after the festival supposedly ended, CineVegas set up an outdoor “drive-in” to show the 1958 sensation, Attack of the 50 Foot Woman. It was a rare opportunity to see this B-film sci-fi classic the way the creators meant it to be seen. With popcorn, soda (unless you smuggled in a couple beers – and many did) and the balmy Vegas night, it was an only at a film festival treat! The after party at the Sidebar nearby capped a wonderful evening. Sponsored by Grey Goose Vodka and Stella Artois (read lots of free alcohol), the vibe was going strong in this festival wrap up.

I met Jim Turner at the party. He is the founder and director of the independent Film Society of Colorado. As a self-professed addict of independent cinema, he has worked at Sundance for a number of years. He leveraged that love of film into yearly festival in his hometown. He dismissed his day job (as a government contractor) as an excuse to fund his real love – festival films. He uses his limited vacation to work both Sundance and CineVegas. Working at these festivals has afforded Jim the opportunity to make contacts with filmmakers and film professionals from around the world. Check out his website, . He is kind of proof that you can work your day job and still be actively involved in the industry.

There was also a party Saturday night at the Playboy Club, but for some reason, even after spending hours at it, I don’t really remember much. There are some pictures posted elsewhere on this blog. Apparently, I took them.

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