It would take a lot to replace CineVegas, the long-running Vegas film festival that ended in 2009, but the folks at the Las Vegas Film Festival are trying their best. The festival returns to the Hilton this weekend, with a lineup of features, shorts and special presentations. The features at past festivals have often been straight-to-video quality, and there are some questionable selections this time as well. But there are some potential gems, too, including Virgin Alexander, written and directed by locals Charlotte Barrett and Sean Fallon and co-starring Rick Faugno of Jersey Boys. The short films are generally more reliable, and this year’s festival offers six different programs, plus blocks of shorts by students from UNLV and CSN.
Special programs include a tribute to actor Michael Madsen, featuring his 2008 indie thriller Vice; a panel discussion with various ex-mobsters whose lives were portrayed in films (including Goodfellas inspiration Henry Hill); and a free Saturday-morning cartoon showcase celebrating legendary animator Chuck Jones, plus a discussion with Jones’ grandson. LVFF organizers are clearly working hard to give the festival a broad appeal, and while it may never live up to the legacy of CineVegas, it could grow into something worthwhile in its own right.