The film festival component of Neon Reverb has been a mostly haphazard endeavor, but if the organizers are just going to cobble together some pieces from local filmmakers, then at least they are doing so with enthusiasm. The two-night event at the Sci Fi Center got off to a slow start, with only about five people (including filmmakers and members of the media) around for the beginning of the 7 p.m. Tuesday show. But the crowd grew steadily, with a bigger audience by the time things actually got rolling around 7:40, and a good 15-20 later on. The longer short films (around half an hour) for the first night’s program were a little shaky, and I left before the festival’s one feature, Robert Shupe’s Damn Yankee Day, which I saw at CineVegas in 2006 (it’s one of the better offerings in the checkered history of local features, though).
Wednesday, with a program dedicated to shorter short films (most around 5-10 minutes), had a much stronger turnout, nearly filling the Center’s screening room, although again there were a large number of filmmakers and their friends. Still, it’s good to see local creative people supporting each other, and the crowd was appreciative of most of the movies, which ranged in quality from funny and clever (a few pieces from much-missed former locals the Nix brothers) to baffling. Technical problems cut off one movie about a minute before it ended (which for a five-minute movie is a big deal), leading to a bit of drama, and one obnoxious group of people whooped and laughed during their own movie and then promptly left. When your work is playing mostly for fellow artists, the very least you can do is be respectful and supportive.
Okay, so many of the movies were a few years old, the audience was insular, and a Nevada Power snafu meant that there were no lights in the screening room (or the bathroom). But organizer Maggie Leon and Sci Fi Center owner William Powell gave it their best effort, and with dedication like that, maybe next time Neon Reverb will get closer to putting on a full film festival.