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By Patty Fantasia
Photo credit: Patty Fantasia

For Movie Lovers The Dam Short Film Festival Isn’t Long Enough!

Now in its 7th year, the Dam Short Film Festival held its annual event at the historic 400 seat Boulder Theatre and the Boulder Dam Hotel in Boulder City from February 9th through the 12th. Located 30 miles southeast of the Las Vegas Strip, the festival continues to grow steadily each year offering screenings of short films, Q&As with filmmakers, a mixer and an Awards Gala on Saturday night that served as the grand finale.

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Built in 1931, for years The Boulder Theatre was the only air-conditioned building in the area. Actor/Musician Desi Arnaz, Jr. and his wife Amy bought the structure in 1999 and restored it. In addition to being the main location for the film festival, it serves as the home of the Boulder City Ballet Company. The Boulder Dam Hotel was originally built in 1933 in order to house visiting government and corporate project managers during the construction of Hoover Dam, which is only two miles away. It was named to the National Register of Historic Places in 1982 after gaining an enviable reputation worldwide due to the number of celebrities and dignitaries that stayed there. Famous guests included Bette David, Henry Fonda and James Cagney.

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According to the festival’s Executive Director and Co-Founder Lee Lanier, they receive approximately 400 submissions covering a number of genres and accept 25%. A filmmaker who has worked in production and computer animation since 1989, Lee finds short films to be an interesting art form and has directed around six of them himself. After visiting many film festivals in the United States, Canada and Europe he and his wife Anita decided to develop a festival devoted to showcasing just shorts and launched The Dam Short Film Festival in 2003. Lee’s goal is to select films that audiences appreciate and will be talking about long after they’ve seen them. He believes in programming the best shorts he can find aimed at pleasing local attendees and in creating a filmmaker friendly environment for the artists who come there.

This year’s winners were as follows: Audience Favorite - “Indestructible”, Best Nevada Filmmaker – “Cowboy”, Best Drama – “War”, Best Sci-Fi/Horror – “The Furred Man”, Best Comedy – “Mam Always Told Him”, Best Documentary – “Forgotten Bird of Paradise”, “Best Student – “God of Love” and Best Animation –“Barko”. In the 1st Runners-Up Category the winners were: Nevada Filmmaker – “The Last Night”, Drama – “Seeding”, Sci-Fi/Horror – “The Island, Comedy – Withstand One Night”, Documentary – “Just About Famous”, Student - “Mercy, Grace & Crab Meat” and Animation – “A Lost and Found Box of Human Sensation”.

Jeremy Helal, director of “Cowboy”, the winner of the Best Nevada Filmmaker award, has lived in Las Vegas all his life. Aside from being an independent filmmaker, he works for Cashman Productions creating video content for local industries. So far, this is the only festival he’s submitted “Cowboy” to because he just finished the final cut a few weeks ago. Helal is a three year veteran at the event having shown three other shorts “The Art of Movement” in 2008, “In Dreams” in 2009 and “Headwound” in 2010 in previous years. He loves the setting describing Boulder City as a picturesque town that has escaped the influence of Las Vegas. He also believes that the festival attracts people who truly enjoy watching short films, unlike other events where feature films tend to dominate. Jeremy has just completed a rough draft of his first feature film and is in the midst of writing another feature about a scientific revolution that leads to the next big frontier of technology.

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Plans for the Dam Short Film Festival’s 8th Annual event next year are already in the works and will once again be held during the second week in February 8-11, 2011.

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