Often times independent film lovers in Las Vegas depend on festivals in order to be able to view the types of movies they want to see since the number of theatres offering such fare is limited when compared with other major cities like Los Angeles or New York. In fact, the Las Vegas Film Festival just ran from July 30 – August 3, 2014 at its new venue at the Inspire Theatre located in Downtown Fremont East. Now in its 7th year the festival also has a new programming director, West McDowell and a dedicated public relations and press liaison Domenica Castro to help support Executive Director Milo Kostelecky. Some of the favorites screened include documentaries “A Brony Tale” and “Getting to the Nutcracker,” which provides audiences with a look at what it takes to produce this time honored Christmas tradition and the talent and dedication it requires from children lucky enough to win a part in the show. Another outstanding film “Lake Las Angeles” won the festival’s Best Actor award for Robert Sanchez and the Best Feature honors. The Las Vegas Film Festival has established itself for showcasing some of the best feature and foreign films, documentaries, shorts and music videos from around the world and is an anticipated event for both local indie film lovers and others coming from different parts of the globe.
The 5th annual PollyGrind Film Festival will be held from October 16 – 18. Considered the premiere underground film event in Las Vegas, PollyGrind is an IMDB qualifier and was named to MovieMaker’s list of 25 Festivals Worth the Entry Fee in 2012 and in 2014 as well as being named to its Top 5 Coolest Experimental/Underground Film Festivals in 2013. In 2013, the festival was also honored with the first ever Corey Taylor Talks award for “always supporting the underdog” and PollyGrind is also a member of Film Exchange, a multi-market screening network comprised of regional U.S. and International Film Festivals. In addition, more than 80 of its official selections have landed distribution deals with companies such as Wild Eye Releasing, Breaking Glass Pictures and Troma Entertainment.
For anyone in the Las Vegas area who is involved in or supports independent filmmaking or for those who are aficionados of the cult, horror, sci-fi, exploitation, arthouse, edgy and innovative cinema genres PollyGrind has become an annual must attend festival.
However, these types of events only run once a year and while they provide the opportunity for “binge” viewing, they don’t offer the chance to see the more mainstream independent films that receive accolades in the press or generate buzz through word of mouth. Las Vegas residents are limited in their viewing options in this area. That said, there are a few places that do exist where movie fans can find the latest critically acclaimed independent films.
The Regal Village Square Stadium 18 located at 9400 W. Sahara Ave is perhaps the most well-known theater in the group. They show everything from the big screen blockbusters to must see Indies like the award winning “Dallas Buyers Club.” Another reasons why it is popular with some locals is the fact that it’s not located in a casino.
Formerly known as Rave Motion Pictures, The AMC Town Square 18 located at 6587 Las Vegas Blvd, S. screens AMC Independent limited releases like the Iranian-American romantic comedy “Shirin in Love” and the Kickstarter-funded “Veronica Mars.” Known for its comfortable stadium seating and a concession area that offers a variety of refreshments, it is also located in Town Square which features all types of shopping and dining options either before or after the show.
Finally, there is the Century 16 Suncoast located at 9090 Alta Drive in Las Vegas. Located inside the Suncoast Hotel & Casino, this 16-screen Cineplex is perhaps best known for showing the latest blockbusters. However it also regularly screens a number of high profile and award-winning independent films under the CineArts header and also played host for the 48 Hour Film Project a few years ago. One of the more resent films presented there was the Oscar-nominated “Philomena.” Once again, this is a theater known for comfort with its all-stadium seating. There are also a variety of restaurants located conveniently inside the casino for before or after movie dining.
Las Vegas still has a ways to go in terms of providing more venues for viewing quality independent films, but it’s good to know that there are some options currently available in the area so that cinephiles won’t suffer from withdrawal waiting for the next festival to come to town.