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Small film festivals struggle to make an impact

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Bringing King to China, a well-meaning but poorly paced documentary that screened at the Nevada Film Festival.

Two small-scale film festivals played to small-scale crowds across town from each other on the same day this past weekend, without any cross-promotion (or even, as far as I could tell, awareness) between the two. Events like the Las Vegas Latino Film Festival and the Nevada Film Festival occur in town more often than many people realize, but with minimal promotion, makeshift venues and the difficulty of overcoming general cultural apathy, they have a tough time attracting attention.

At this point, no local film festival is mounted in an actual movie theater, and the LVLFF hosted its screenings in an auditorium on the CSN Cheyenne campus, while the NFF was housed in a hard-to-find ballroom inside the Rampart Casino in Summerlin. I checked out one shorts program and one feature at each festival, plus a panel discussion at the LVLFF, and there were around 10-15 people at each of the programs I attended.

A few presentational and logistical difficulties aside, the selections themselves were of mixed quality. The features in the LVLFF weren’t new productions, but I appreciated the chance to see 2007 Argentinean film XXY, an affecting if sometimes slow and dour take on a sensitive subject (the life of an intersex teen). At the NFF, the festival closed with Bringing King to China, a well-meaning but poorly paced documentary about an American academic in China producing a play based on the life of Martin Luther King Jr. The festivals, in their ninth and fourth years, respectively, are doing their best to present interesting, challenging material; now all they need are the facilities and the audience to back it up.

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