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Debut Delights

There’s something magical about a movie’s world premiere.

And with 10 world premieres scheduled this weekend at the 10th annual CineVegas film festival, local movie buffs have ample opportunity to experience the magic for themselves.

"It’s kind of like a pregnancy test — is it pink or is it blue?" says actor Bill Pullman, whose "Your Name Here" is one of three world premieres scheduled tonight at the Palms. "I can’t wait to see it with an audience.

Pullman plays a renowned ’70s science-fiction writer who’s plunged into one alternate reality after another.

"As soon as I read it, I was in love with it," Pullman confesses in a telephone interview from his Southern California home. "I couldn’t help myself."

And even though plenty of people told him not to make "Your Name Here," Pullman says he couldn’t resist another trip down the rabbit-hole of "kaleidoscoping reality stories," a genre he’s been drawn to since 1990’s "Brain Dead," a psychological thriller scripted by "Twilight Zone" veteran Charles Beaumont. "It’s followed me — I’m going to have my own mini-oevre," he jokes.

Trevor Groth, CineVegas’ artistic director, likens "Your Name Here" to "Being John Malkovich," as it "shifts around realities" and explores "existential questions" while taking a trip inside someone’s mind.

This entry in Pullman’s "free-flowing realities" canon has a "kind of whacked" perspective "through the prism of the ’70s," the actor explains. "All the characters have a kind of cheekiness."

For actors, there’s "almost no incentive" to make independent films such as "Your Name Here," Pullman explains, "because it means not a lot of pay, difficult conditions and probably questions about whether it’ll ever see the light of day."

Yet "the scripts themselves are extremely tasty," he adds, and much closer to "the reason why people got involved in films in the first place."

That offbeat quality also surfaces in today’s other CineVegas premieres: "Big Heart City," a gritty neo-noir about a young gambler, and the documentary "Last Cup: Road to the World Series of Beer Pong," in which players compete in Mesquite.

Saturday’s debuts cover a similarly wide range, from the horse-racing documentary "Lost in the Fog" to the ’30s noir musical "Dark Streets." And then there’s "South of Heaven," which the CineVegas program notes describes as a mix of film noir, spaghetti Western and "Pee-wee’s Playhouse."

Groth describes "Memorial Day," premiering Sunday night, as "a film that’s going to shake a lot of people up," predicting that its "candid video aesthetic" and unexpected twists are "going to push a lot of people’s buttons."

But there’s also more mainstream fare on tap at CineVegas on Sunday: a special screening of "Get Smart" to benefit co-star Dwayne Johnson’s The Rock Foundation and its Project Knapsack.

Johnson is expected to attend the benefit screening at Planet Hollywood, where he spent much of the previous two weeks playing a Vegas cabby in the upcoming Disney remake "Race to Witch Mountain."

Director Abel Ferrara ("King of New York"), meanwhile, returns to CineVegas for the second time with two movies: Sunday’s U.S. premiere of the documentary "Chelsea on the Rocks," about New York’s legendary Chelsea Hotel, and Monday’s screening of "Go Go Tales," set in a struggling strip club run by Willem Dafoe.

"It’s my first comedy," Ferrara says of "Go Go Tales." That is, "it’s my first intentional comedy."

And while Ferrara usually spends his time at film festivals promoting his movie (or, in this case, movies), "what I really enjoy is getting a chance to see the films." Just like the rest of us.

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

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