This is an excerpt from the radio show Our Metropolis, a half-hour issues and affairs program that airs Tuesdays at 6 p.m. on KUNV 91.5-FM and is hosted by the Greenspun Media Group’s John Katsilometes. Tune in next week to hear the rest of this interview with Trevor Groth, CineVegas film festival artistic director since 2002:
The festival is in its 10th year now. How has it changed and evolved?
My very first year we had a section of documentaries called Pioneer Documentaries, and that first year of doing it, I programmed I think 10 to 12 pretty hard-hitting, more conventional, PBS-style documentaries that were wonderful films, but I learned that there wasn’t necessarily an audience for those films in Las Vegas. I think they wanted films that weren’t as conventional in their storytelling, so we gravitated toward fiction films, and that’s what the festival became all about. But in that time, since 2002, documentaries have gone through an evolutionary process, too ... In terms of numbers, the first year we got a couple hundred submissions, total, and now we’re over 1,000.
- Our Metropolis with Trevor Groth
When you go to an established film festival, like the Cannes Film Festival, what is the general opinion about this film festival in Las Vegas?
I just got back from Cannes, and the awareness about the festival and the excitement about the festival were at an all-time high. People were seeking me out, telling me how much they wanted to attend and asking about films in the festival. That, for me, is very encouraging. There are two reactions I get when they learn about CineVegas. Most, four out of five people, really get it. It makes perfect sense because it is a city that welcomes all these types of people and can have parties every night. Then there is the one in five who think the city lacks culture.
You have screened thousands of films. How long does it take before you know if a film is going to work?
You know, you get a hunch, instantly. But then, you also want to be more than fair, but out of respect for how much passion, blood, sweat and tears went into making every single film. For the most part, I am pretty aware of what the film is maybe 10 to 15 minutes in, then I’ll watch another 20 minutes, and if it’s unfolding exactly how I think it’s going to, I’ll start scanning, and I’ll scan through it to make sure I was right. If something happens that surprises me, I’ll go back and watch it, because being surprised is what programming all about.