Dam man

Four questions for the Dam Short Film Festival’s Lee Lanier

Josh Bell

Now in its fourth year, the Dam Short Film Festival in Boulder City continues to grow, this year adding two retrospective programs focusing on the works of Jim Blashfield (who will be at the festival) and Charles and Ray Eames, and moving from the American Legion Hall to the Boulder Theatre.


What prompted the move to the Boulder Theatre?

We’ve been trying to move there for four years, and this was the first year we were actually able to get it. It was built in 1931, so it’s a nice, restored theater. It’s real theater seating. How can you go wrong? Obviously converting the American Legion was a bit of a nightmare, in terms of bringing in all the equipment and all the seats and the box office and all that kind of stuff. I think it’s good timing for us. I think we’re finally big enough to take on the theater, because it’s 400 seats, so it’s a much bigger space.

Has the festival’s prestige increased?

I think the word’s getting out. As a new festival, a lot of people didn’t know about us. Now it’s kind of spreading out there. We did market research last year and discovered that our No. 1 marketing tool was word of mouth.

Besides the retrospectives, what are some of the highlights of this year’s festival?

One interesting thing is that we’re not repeating any films this year. A couple years ago, some films would be shown twice, kind of embedded into the program, where we do like a best-of. And now we’re not doing that. Including the showcases, the retrospectives, we have almost 150 films total. I think that’s an indication that the quality overall has gone up, so we don’t feel like we need to repeat the favorite ones. Every block we feel is good, all the way through. We don’t tend to program stuff we don’t like, so it’s hard to say. Anything we think local audiences and filmmakers are going to enjoy, we put in there. I like the drama block that’s on Saturday afternoon, that’s kind of either war-themed or oppressive regime-themed. Oppressive situations where people are caught in the middle of it. Those are three films that I think are all really good.

What is your vision for the future of the festival?

Just slow growth. It’s always been a priority—slow growth with an emphasis on quality. Each year we ratchet it up a few degrees. Now we’re in the theater. We added an office last year, so we have a full-time office now. We have a paid intern. I’ll be on salary next year. We’ll probably still be only three or four days long, but we’ll just try to increase the quality of the films every year. And then we’ll add more heavy-duty formats, start doing high-def, things like that.

The Dam Short Film Festival runs February 7-9 at the Boulder Theatre, 1225 Arizona St. in Boulder City. Tickets for individual screenings are $5. For more info call 293-4848 or visit

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