Rampart hosting inaugural Nevada Film Festival


You lose some, you win some.

Las Vegas may have lost CineVegas, the city's highest-profile film festival. (At least for now, anyway.)

But there's a new festival in town -- this weekend's Nevada Film Festival -- to help pick up the slack.

"For fans of CineVegas, this is a good avenue to hold them over," festival director Brandon Parker says. "We believe there's always room for more quality films."

The new festival -- presented at Summerlin's Rampart Casino -- kicks off at 7 p.m. today with an opening-night bash for filmmakers and film buffs alike, at J.C. Wooloughan's Irish Pub.

The movies begin at 10 a.m. Saturday in the Rampart's Marquis Ballroom and continue all day and into the night. The festival concludes with a 10 p.m. awards ceremony.

The festival's 20-movie lineup represents "just about every category and genre," from fictional features to documentaries and short subjects, Parker says. "We try to offer a really wide variety."

In addition, except for a handful of premieres, most of the festival selections have "already achieved certain success" at other festivals, illustrating their appeal, he adds.

"There's a greater incentive for the public to come out and give them a chance," Parker comments.

Among the highlights: the festival's Grand Jury Award-winner, the documentary "Beyond the Call," described as an "Indiana Jones-meets-Mother-Teresa adventure" about three former soldiers who deliver humanitarian aid to civilians and doctors in war-torn areas around the world. It debuted at New York's Tribeca Film Festival and has won awards at festivals from Palm Springs and Santa Fe to the Las Vegas International Film Festival.

By contrast, the Best Nevada Feature winner, "Tales From the Catholic Church of Elvis," is based on writer/actor/singer Mercy Malick's award-winning play about growing up as a Catholic schoolgirl in Las Vegas. (The Best Nevada Short, "Growing Up Vegas," previously screened at CineVegas and the Las Vegas International Film Festival.)

The first Nevada Film Festival, which is planned as an annual event, has been in the works for about a year, Parker notes.

"My associates and I are huge film buffs," he explains. "We wanted to bring more quality independent films to Southern Nevada."

A full festival schedule and other information is available online at www.nevadafilmfestival.com.

Contact movie critic Carol Cling at ccling@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0272.