By Jacqueline Monahan
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The 2012 Las Vegas Film Festival (LVFF) took place at the Las Vegas Hotel and Casino from July 19th – 22nd, and showcased Feature Films, Shorts, Foreign Films, Documentaries, Animation, Music Videos, Television Pilots, a Nevada Filmmakers Showcase, Experimental Films, and a Screenplay Competition.

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Also, Indie Icon awards were presented to Lea Thompson and Lou Gossett, Jr. during the festival.

Your humble correspondent screened every documentary, along with the UNLV block of shorts and several independent shorts during the four-day festival.

The documentaries drew sizable crowds, and most of them were screened in the large LVH Showroom. Running times varied, from 30 minutes (A Walk in My Shoes) to 140 minutes (Marley). Directors and awards are listed below each category.

Fools on the Hill
refers to politicians on Capitol Hill, and one man’s quest to get North Dakota’s residents to get a bill passed into law. Amazingly, that bill would require lawmakers to read and understand a bill before they pass it. Actor activists like Dean Cain and Ed Begley Jr. provide commentary.

The Eyes of Thailand shows us why landmines and living things don’t mix. When elephants are injured, the task to keep them alive can be daunting. Highlighting the work of Soraida Salwala and her Asian Elephant Hospital, two elephants are fitted with prosthetic legs and wait for the world to catch up to living in peace. Narrated by Ashley Judd.

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The Keeper of the Keys taps into seven areas like courage, passion, faith etc. to explore for self improvement lecture by experts in the field. John Gray of Men are From Mars fame is one; Jack Canfield (Chicken Soup for the Soul) and Derek Mills (The Standards Guy) are just two more in a field of experts that advise, cajole, provide anecdotal avenue, and give the proverbial slap upside the head to the unenlightened.

26 Years: The Dewey Bozella Story tells the true story of Dewey Bozella’s life after a 26 year prison stint for a murder he did not commit. While in Sing Sing, he earned degrees and learned to box becoming the light heavyweight champion of the prison. Upon his release, at 50 years of age, he dreams of becoming a professional boxer.

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Dewey Bozella

A Walk in My Shoes follows two college students from Tennessee State University as they became homeless for 24 hours in Nashville TN. Without cell phones, cars or money they set out to ask for food and money, find a place to sleep, and see what it takes to survive on the streets.

Flat Daddy is a life-size cardboard cutout representation of a deployed parent. Some are mounted on sticks; some are posters. That’s all some kids have to remember their dad or mom during a 12-15 month deployment. The documentary follows four families as they wait for their “heroes on a stick.” to come home. The whimsical idea fronts the serious issue of families separated by military service.

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Louder Than Love: The Grande Ballroom Story wants you to know that it’s pronounced “grandee” and calls itself the greatest untold story in Rock & Roll history as revealed by the musicians, artists and people that lived it. Not a New York or San Francisco or Los Angeles venue, the Grande Ballroom was located in Detroit. Footage and Interviews with Roger Daltrey, Eric Clapton, Ted Nugent and all of the people who made the Grande happen make this a fascinating flashback into rock history.

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Marley means Bob Marley, of course, and his life story still fascinates more than 30 years after his death. Made with the support of the Marley family, the film features rare footage, performances and interviews with the people that knew him best. It’s a comprehensive, enlightening documentary that will satisfy fans and possibly make new ones for the singer, prophet, poet and activist.

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Poster for Director Kevin Macdonald's Marley


Documentary Directors:
Louder Than Love: The Grande Ballroom Story – Tony D’Annunzio (Best Documentary)
Flat Daddy – Nara Garber and Betsy Nadler (Best Educational Film)
Keeper of the Keys – Scott Cervine (Best Independent Film)
Fools on the Hill – Jeb Rigney (Best Screenplay)
26 Years: The Dewey Bozella Story – Jose Morales (Best Sports Film)
A Walk in My Shoes – Melissa Richie (Golden Ace Award, Short Film)
The Eyes of Thailand – Windy Borman (Golden Ace Award, Documentary)
Marley - Kevin Macdonald

Additional festival screenings included Jane, about an institutionalized psychopath and her therapist; Returning Home, the ultimate desert road trip between good and evil; Table Six, a seedy bar holds murderous secrets; and A Little Bit Zombie, a full-length farce about a guy trying to fight the zombie urge due to his impending nuptials to a bridezilla.


Additional Films and Directors:

Returning Home – Jason Honeycutt (Golden Ace Award, Short Film)
Table Six – Bryan Artiles (Best Crime Film)
Jane – Alex Catalano (Best Student Film)
A Little Bit Zombie – Casey Walker (Golden Ace Award, Feature)


The UNLV Film Block of shorts, always an anticipated event, screened to a near capacity crowd in the hotel’s Shimmer Cabaret Theatre and was comprised of ten student productions which ranged in length from four minutes (Danseur, That’s My Bagel) to fifteen minutes (Skyline, Photogenic, Shrunk),

Subject matter ranged from insecurity in a relationship (Photogenic) to domestic combat (That’s My Bagel) to street art (Spraying Between the Lines) to alien visits to a secluded cabin (The Old Man).

An execution in a courthouse bathroom during jury deliberation (Ergo Sum) is juxtaposed with therapy that goes mischievously haywire (Shrunk). An architect’s life takes a romantic turn (Skyline) while a silent period short (Amazing Plan) offers a humorous look at a woman scorned.

The title says it all as a woman spins and twirls gracefully around a room in a diaphanous white gown (Danseur) and some unfortunate hiker gets a snakebite while urinating (Homophobic) testing his friendship with another male.


UNLV Short Block Directors
Photogenic – M. Simon Lin
That’s My Bagel – Thomas Brecheisen
Ergo Sum – Sigmund Wong
Spraying Between the Lines – Scottie Minshall
Amazing Plan – Ivan Alcantara
Skyline – Logan Stewart
The Old Man – Ryan Lebeouf
Shrunk – Christine Melton
Danseur – Denis Bosnjakovic
Homophobic – Constanza Castro

The Las Vegas Film Festival and its celebration of independent films will return for its sixth year during summer 2013 with even more ways to keep viewers awake in the dark.

For further information:
www.lvfilmfest.com