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Las Vegas has a new annual film festival that promotes independent filmmakers, documentaries shorts, animations, experimental films, television pilots and music videos.
The four-day Las Vegas Film Festival was an opportunity for the public to view a variety of films and productions at a very reasonable price. This year’s event, the second annual one since “international” was dropped from its name, was held April 9-12 at the Eastside Cannery on the Boulder Highway Strip.
The festival spotlights domestic independent films but does not exclude foreign productions. Two of the exclusive films premiered out the 100 shown were Oscar-nominated “Spielzuegland (Toyland)” and “Most (Bridge).”
An LVFF world-premiere film, “Prom Night Mississippi,” is about the high school in Charleston, Miss., that continued to hold racially segregated proms for its Black and White students up until recently. Academy Award-winner Morgan Freeman, who lives in that community, stimulated this change by paying for the first-ever integrated prom, held on April 19, 2008.
Another film, an official selection of the Tribeca Film Festival, is a dramatic tale of microbes, medicine and money called “Under Our Skin.” The investigational film exposes Lyme’s disease as an emerging epidemic that is shockingly looming larger than AIDS in America.
The world premiere of “Teplitz: The Tyranny of Paradox” is a dark, comedic, sci-fi adventure that tells the story of a character, Paxton Teplitz, who is a young man who joins an organization of metaphysical travelers to learn the truth about his shrouded past.
There was also an audience question and answer period with veteran actors John Saxon and Barry Pepper, which was hosted by Tony Sacca, local entertainer and TV host-producer of “Entertainment Las Vegas Style.”
They were later joined on stage by Saxon’s co-star from “God’s Ears,” a romantic drama about an autistic boxer played by independent filmmaker Michael Worth. There was an interactive discussion about the film, the actors’ careers and other topics.
Worth, who is accustomed to playing action-film roles, stretched his skills to dig in on this dramatic platform. He was superb as the central character.
Emmy-nominated actor Barry Pepper, known for his roles in “Saving Private Ryan” and “Flags of Our Father,” received the LVFF Best Actor Award. His latest film, “Like Dandelion Dust,” was among those shown at the festival.
Saxon, a Golden Globe winner remembered for his role in “Enter the Dragon,” received the 2009 LVFF Best Supporting Actor award.
Saxon discussed his acting career in a humble way. According to him, he doesn’t see himself as a big-time film director, but he says he would enjoy directing a meaningful film.
He told the audience that he got his start in acting from someone who saw him in a magazine ad. He also referred to a quote that Tony Curtis once told him: “When you get starring roles, it’s great; but when you get older, parts get smaller. You’d better realize that.”
Saxon, 72, spoke in an exclusive interview later and discussed martial arts and how it disciplines the mind. Saxon’s character in the movie owns a gym and motivates Worth’s character to excel in boxing despite his limitations from autism. It is a very inspiring film.
“I’ve always been into martial arts. And, yes, it’s a great way to teach anyone, especially children, discipline,” said Saxon.
He also spoke about the need to support parents, children and adults dealing with autism.
“The film “God’s Ear,” I think, will show compassion for an individual who has autism. The public should have compassion for families who have autistic children.”
In the film and cinematic industry, accommodations are being made, such as the AMC’s Sensory Friendly Films and multiplex theaters designed to help families enjoy movies by minimizing the loud noises, bright lights and rapid motions that often prove too stimulating for those with autism.
Festival directors James Mulidore and Jeremy Parker are two young men who produced a cohesive event where theatergoers got their money’s worth. Overall, the event gained attendance throughout the weekend, and the other media coverage was extensive.
In addition to the featured films, local student filmmakers from the College of Southern Nevada were allowed to showcase their work during the festival.
For more information about the Las Vegas Film Festival and its future events, go to www.lvfilmfest.com. The Celebrity Scene News interview with John Saxon appears on MQM TV Network at www.MQMtv.com and on Players Network on Direct TV’s On-demand.
My book of poetry entitled "Messages" was inspired by my dear friends C.J. Cansler along with Victoria Boone and Beryl Warren.
The group of poems along with some beautiful photographs are to inspire the reader.