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Dam Short Film Festival expands in Boulder City

The Dam Short Film Festival just got a little longer.

Boulder City’s annual four-day celebration of brief cinema has expanded to a fifth day this year in order to better showcase its award winners, says Tsvetelina Stefanova, the festival’s new executive director.

The 16th annual installment kicks off Thursday and continues through Monday, with the final day devoted to showing each of the winning entries. Even though they’re short films, there’s never been enough time to screen them all during the Sunday night awards ceremony, Stefanova explains. “We wanted to have an opportunity to show all of the films outside of that.”

That extra day of film blocks only made sense, she says, considering that the festival already had the Boulder Theatre, the festival’s longtime home, booked for the day for cleanup, and that Monday is a holiday — at least in some offices.

“It’s just an amazing event,” Stefanova says of the festival. “Anybody who goes once is just hooked for years to come.”

She would know. Stefanova, 33, started volunteering with the Dam Short Film Festival a decade ago and climbed the ranks with stints as social media coordinator, sponsorship manager, director of development and a member of the board of directors.

Her first year as executive director comes during a time of transition.

Lee Lanier, who co-founded the festival in 2003 with his wife, Anita, stepped away from the event and resigned from its board in late 2018. He’s since returned as the director of continuity, but organizers are determined to spread the work around this year. The festival’s board has more members, and they’ve hired independent contractors to better position the event for future success.

“We’re figuring out ways to kind of download our brains to make it so the festival is not reliant on any one individual to survive,” Stefanova says.

The five days will see 146 short films, up from the 133 that were screened in 2019.

That larger pool of content meant there were enough entries from Nevada filmmakers to program the inaugural Silver State documentaries block, which will kick off the festival at noon Thursday. The addition of a second block of comedies will allow the laughter to spread between Friday and Saturday. (For a complete schedule, film descriptions and ticket information, see damshortfilm.org.)

Stefanova is a founding member of local indie rockers Same Sex Mary. Owing to those musical roots, she’s especially excited for a retrospective of the Residents, the secretive performance-art collective that dates back to the 1960s. The group’s members, who’ve gone to great lengths to conceal their identities, have assembled a selection of short films and music videos for the festival. Homer Flynn, the Residents’ manager and spokesman — and presumed influential member — will attend the screening at 8 p.m. Friday and take part in a question-and-answer session.

As a testament to the festival’s success, two blocks — one each on Saturday and Sunday — are dedicated to international filmmakers, while additional foreign entries are sprinkled throughout the other programs. Among the more than 20 nations represented are South Africa, Taiwan, Myanmar, Luxembourg, Israel and South Korea, home of the Oscar-winning sensation “Parasite.”

Contact Christopher Lawrence at clawrence@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-4567. Follow @life_onthecouch on Twitter.

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