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Thousands expected to attend Las Vegas Film Festival

Their “lights, camera, action ” is our attraction.

The 2011 Las Vegas Film Festival is planned for July 15-17 at the Las Vegas Hilton, 3000 Paradise Road.

It’s the fourth year for the festival and second as one of the only events to screen independent works and honor masters of their craft on a Las Vegas stage.

Founder, president and filmmaker Monty Lapica was inspired to launch the Las Vegas Film Festival after attending the Cine Vegas International Film Festival, which is on indefinite hiatus.

“I was a huge fan of what they were doing, and I had such a wonderful experience,” Lapica said. “I just felt this city was large enough to support an additional film festival.”

Events are set to kick off Friday night, and all-day showings are planned for Saturday and Sunday. Forty-five screenings are planned, a selection scaled down from the more than 1,000 projects submitted for consideration this year, said Milo Kostelecky, film festival director.

In addition to screenings, interactive panel discussions, a screenplay competition, red carpet parties, a filmmaker reception and a closing night ceremony and awards are planned.

Actor Michael Madsen is slated to receive the Indie Icon Award, screen his film “Vice” and participate in a book signing and a question-and-answer panel.

Chuck Jones, an animator for the Looney Tunes, will be honored posthumously. His grandson Craig Kausen is scheduled to participate in a Q-and-A .

The festival will give a nod to Las Vegas mob history with a panel that includes ex-mobster Henry Hill, the inspiration for the movie “Goodfellas,” and Frank Cullotta, Meyer Lansky II, Antoinette Gianca na, Tony Montana and Craig Vincent.

About 10,000 moviegoers are expected to attend screenings this year.

The Hilton Showroom is planned to be transformed into the main theater, and the comedy lounge, The Shimmer, is set to serve as a secondary screening venue. Many films are shown simultaneously.

Filmmakers, international and local, will have their works shown. Students from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and the College of Southern Nevada have projects in the festival.

Other media to be showcased include TV pilots and music videos.

“Our mission year in and year out is to create a community event that’s respected by the community that promotes a vast array of films,” Kostelecky said.

Lapica, a lifelong Las Vegan, said past audiences and industry members have lauded the festival, and they’ve helped change the face of film culture here.

“Las Vegas isn’t traditionally a city that would have much of an independent film following. That’s changing,” Lapica said. “In the last several years, the arts community has been flourishing.”

Lapica’s film, “Self-medicated,” premiered at Cine Vegas in 2005. Lapica said the festival could be the launching pad that projects need to get national attention.

“Film festivals are very much one of the only avenues indie filmmakers have to start the process,” he said. “If they are well received by film festival audiences, distributors become aware of that and they buy the rights and get it out to the marketplace.”

Independent projects ranging from feature films to shorts, foreign, documentaries and animation and experimental are on the docket.

“We realize independent film is perhaps something new to people,” Lapica said. “We try to have something for everyone.”

Volunteers are still needed for th e event.

Individual film tickets are $8, all-day passes are $50 and packages, including VIP access to parties and award events, are available.

For a calendar of events , admission prices, tickets or other further information, call 463-4707, email info@lvfilmfest.com or visit lvfilm fest.com.

Contact Centennial and Paradise View reporter Maggie Lillis at mlillis@viewnews.com or 477-3839.

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