Las Vegas Tribune
Las Vegas Round The Clock
The Women Film Critics Circle
CineVegas Film Festival 2007 at the Brenden Theatres in the Palms Resort and Casino
9th Annual CineVegas Film
Festival draws film buffs, filmmakers, and film stars.
The 9th Annual CineVegas Film Festival
kicked into gear on June 6 and ran through June 16th at its usual host
location, the Brendan Theatres at the Palms Resort Casino. This year’s
lineup included more than a dozen highly anticipated world and U.S.
premieres, independent films seeking distribution, a series of shorts,
and several entertainment icons (Anthony Hopkins, Ben Kingsley, Charlize
Theron, Mike Newell and Ocean’s producer Jerry Weintraub) appearing in
person to be honored with a special award and tribute.
While this year lacked the usual celebrity panel discussions, something
new was added to the schedule; La Próxima Ola, which showcases the next
“wave” of upcoming films and talented filmmakers coming out of Mexico.
Of course, attendees with the right credentials also looked forward to
the fabulous evening after parties at some of the top nightclubs and
venues that Las Vegas has to offer, including Revolution Lounge at the
Mirage, the plush Foundation Room upstairs at Mandalay Bay, the
Observation Deck high above the strip at the Stratosphere, and the
topping on the cake, the exciting final night bash that was also a
celebration of Vegas magazine’s 4th anniversary. The party was held at
the “beach” at Mandalay Bay and featured a star studded Red Carpet
event, entertainment by American Idol runner up, Katherine McPhee and
lots of scrumptious food and drinks.
Caroline D'Amore and Kim Kardashian
Kelly Carlson and George Maloof
Ivan Kane of Forty Deuce
The Fantasy Girls
Nathan Burton and Brittany Palmer
As always, it was great to see my buddies
from Utah, fellow film buffs/critics Adam and Kevin, of
. who would not have missed this festival for the world.
The festival started off on a high note with plenty of glitter and star power
when The Palms Casino Resort laid down the Red Carpet in front of the main
entrance for the opening night premiere of Ocean’s 13 to benefit International
Rescue Committee For Not On Our Watch, a charitable group whose goal is to
support the humanitarian relief efforts in Darfur and help stop the ongoing
atrocities and genocide in that region. Hundreds of fans arrived early, only to
be huddled together behind barricades to try and get a glimpse of the arriving
film’s stars Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Matt Damon, Don Cheadle, Ellen Barkin,
Andy Garcia and producer Jerry Weintraub as well as Carrot Top, Wayne Newton,
CineVegas chairman Dennis Hopper and CineVegas artistic director Trevor Groth.
After the screening veteran producer Jerry Weintraub was honored with the 2007
Vanguard Producer Award and Festival President Robin Greenspun presented him and
Not On Our Watch with a check for $1,000,000 representing the proceeds of the
festival’s fundraising efforts.
Matt Damon and wife
photo by Jill Ann Spaulding
photo by Jill Ann Spaulding
photo by Jill Ann Spaulding
Photo by Rob Goald
photo by Jill Ann Spaulding
photo by Jill Ann Spaulding
photo by Jill Ann Spaulding
Photo by Rob Goald
the slogan for the 2006 CineVegas was the World’s Most Dangerous Film Festival.
This year’s festival catchphrase was “you’ll sleep when it’s over”. I, for one,
can vouch for that. In order to take in as many films on the schedule as
possible, as well as attend the tributes and after parties, there is very little
time for serious attendees to get some shut eye.
Since many of the movies being screened co-incide with each other, I was forced
to make a decision and pick from those I considered to be the crème of the crop.
This year rather than just showing our badge for entry into the screenings, the
press had to submit a list of movies we wanted to see and hopefully get tickets
for those we requested. As it turned out, I wasn’t granted tickets to all on my
“wish list” but for the most part, I was happy to have sat through enough
screenings before my body became glued to the theatre seats. I can honestly say
that there were many films that I would highly recommend. The following, in my
opinion, were the best of the bunch.
The first was the Thursday night screening of The Devil Came On Horseback, a
haunting documentary by Annie Sunberg and Ricki Stern, that details what former
Marine, Brian Steidle experienced during the six months that he spent in Darfur,
the Sudan, as a neutral observer and monitor with the African Union. Twenty
seven year old Steidle had no idea of what he was in for when he became eye
witness to the horrible crimes perpetrated on the citizens of the country by its
own government in the name of ethnic cleansing. Through Steidle’s recollections,
horrendous images he captured through photographs, and interviews with survivors
and other natives, the true story unfolds with his camera revealing evidence of
undeniable war crimes against humanity in a far off third world country. Steidle
was so emotionally shocked by what he saw first hand that he took it upon
himself to try and wake up the conscience of people and put pressure on
political leaders to put a stop to this ongoing reign of terror. Rather than
entertaining, this important, gripping and harrowing film works to bring
attention to a worthy cause that involves saving the lives of our fellow human
Brian Steidle and Annie Sunberg
Following the movie I went
downtown to an after party being held poolside at the Golden Nugget where I
mingled with other invited guests and the stars of The Grand, (set in the world
of poker tournaments – I missed this film, because I didn’t have a ticket) Ray
Romano, Richard Kind, Jason Alexander and former Saturday Night Live performer
Chris Parnell. I didn’t get a chance to chat with the guys who were busy playing
blackjack at a poolside table, but I managed to get a few moments with co-star
Chris Parnell who let me know what he has been up to since leaving SNL. Chris,
who was very personable and took some time out to chat with me, said he appears
in two movies that will open in the near future; Hot Rod (slated for an early
August release) which co-stars present SNL cast member Andy Sanberg, and Walk
Hard (to be released in February) that co-stars John C. O’Reilly. After we
spoke, I headed back home since it was already very late, and I hoped to get
enough rest so I would to be bright and ready for day two.
Chris Parnell and Judy Thorburn
My numero uno 2007 CineVegas
film was the Mexican import, Bad Habits (Malos Habitos), written and directed by
up and coming director Simon Bross. Bross made such a brilliant impression with
this, his first feature film, that mark my words, he is going to be a major
force in the world of feature films. Don’t let the title fool you. Although one
of the major characters is a nun, the film’s premise is about personal sacrifice
involving food, what we know as eating disorders, and the toll it takes on the
lives of the protagonists who are hungry for meaning in their own world.
Everything about this film is spectacular beginning with the fabulous acting by
all three female stars. The story chronicles the lives of a nun who believes
that denying herself of food is payment to God in exchange for miraculous cures;
an anorexic wife and mother obsessed with being skinny, and her daughter, a
chubby preteen forced to follow her abusive mother’s strict eating habits. Each
scene is exquisitely crafted using water or light, camera angles and superb
editing, to convey exactly what Bross sets out to invoke.
After the screening Bross spoke about the
movie and why he made it. As a cancer survivor, he said that “given another
chance at life, I wanted to make a movie that comes from the heart, from a very
honest point of view, something that was very important for me, eating disorders
which was not in the news at the time. I knew two models that I worked with in
commercials that died (as a result of eating disorders). But it is also about
faith, not as a solution or trying to be scandalous. I am not against or pro
church. 98% of Mexicans are Catholic. I was inspired by the true story of a 17th
century Spanish nun who was sure she could make miracles happen by fasting. I
asked 300 nuns if their prayer could stop quakes, etc. and they said yes”.
Indeed the power of the mind and one’s belief are very strong forces. Bross
explores how those powers, taken to the extreme and as delusions can be
Eagle vs. Shark, from New Zealand, is an offbeat little flick directed by Taika
Waititi, that took me by surprise, in a good way. The charming and very quirky
romantic comedy is about a couple of odd characters, Lily, a sweet natured,
lonely cashier at a fast food burger joint who is fired from her job but takes
it in stride using her free time to go after the man of her dreams, nerdy video
game clerk Jarrod by crashing his “dress as your favorite animal” party. In
costume as a shark with video game prowess she gets the attention of Jarrod,
adorned as a fluffy headed Eagle. Loren Horsely as Lilly and Jemaine Clement
(who looks like a cross between John Travolta and Mick Jagger) as Jarrod are
splendidly in character. It’s a match made in geek heaven until Jarrod announces
that he must leave town, and embark on a mission to seek revenge on the bully
from his high school years. Needless to say, Lilly tags along where she endures
some trials and tribulations, the inevitable heartbreak and of course,
reconciliation. Reminiscent of Napolean Dynamite in its oddball nature, this
wacky tale of socially inept misfits is endearing and the zany and hilarious
moments will cause you to walk out of the theatre with a smile on your face.
Another memorable film was writer/director Adam Rifkin’s innovative and
provocative film, Look, which follows images of unsuspected American’s going
about their business as captured through the lens of surveillance cameras.
Although told through a written narrative with actors portraying the characters,
Look is filmed as close to reality as possible with in your face interweaving
storylines from the point of view of a hidden camera that will make you think
twice about what you are doing at any time and any place, since you never know
if you are being watched. The result is a mixture of funny and at times shocking
revelations that will stay in your mind long after the movie is over.
On Sunday I saw director Amir Mann’s, The Fifth Patient starring Nick Chinlund,
which is about a man who wakes up with amnesia in a hospital in Africa and in a
desperate race against time must find out his true identity before his captors,
the local regime, executes him for being a spy. I would have cut about 15
minutes to move up the pace and there were some plot devices concerning the
unexpected twist at the end that was questionable, but all in all, the film is
an ambitious effort that kept my interest.
I liked Throwing Stars starring Jason
London, Michael deLouise, Scott Michael Campbell and Kevin Durand as three
childhood buddies who bind together to help their fourth buddy get rid of the
body of a crazed meth/animal porn impresario that he unintentionally killed in
an act of self defense. The dark comedy is very funny, involves wacky
situations, and a little monkey that almost steals the show.
Cast of "Throwing Stars"
Photo by Judy Thorburn
In another totally different
genre Have Love Will Travel offers an inside look at the world of private
dancers and their drivers. Do I have to say more?
On the subject of sex, Viva is a throwback to the sexploitation films of the
1970’s by first time director and the film’s star Anna Biller. Intentionally bad
acted, the film works as an off the wall spoof of the 1970’s sexual revolution
from the point of view of a suburban housewife who is trying to discover herself
and in turn become liberated. It was a hoot, to say the least.
Cast of "Viva"
The following Wednesday I
saw La Vie En Rose, the life story of legendary French singer Edith Piaf. I
wasn’t crazy about the way the film occasionally shifts back and forth in time
in a non linear fashion, but Piaf's singing, and tour de force performance by a
young actress I had never before seen, Marion Cotillard, who embodies the ever
suffering, temperamental chanteuse made up for any filmmaking flaws that seem
minor by comparison. Cotillard portrays Edith from her teen years through her
last. Her physical transformation, including mannerisms, hair and makeup to age
her is perfection. This is the best female performance of the year, so far. If
she doesn’t get an Oscar nomination for her powerful work in this film, the
Academy desperately needs a wake up call.
Blue State stars Breckin Meyer and Anna Paquin in the story about a
disillusioned young Kerry campaign worker named John Logue who decides to move
to Canada after George W. Bush is re-elected for a second term. Paquin is the
young woman who answers his ad to share the ride. The well crafted story centers
on their journey and what they encounter after reaching their destination. It
turns into a learning experience, about self discovery, and finding out that the
grass is not always greener on the other side.
Broken English marks the very impressive screen debut of writer/director Zoe
Cassevetes, daughter of late actor/filmmaker John Cassavetes and actress Gena
Rowland. Parker Posey is Nora, a thirty something single young woman anxious to
find love. In her quest, she somehow always winds up picking the wrong guys,
jerks for one reason or another. That is until she meets Julian, handsome
Frenchman that refuses to take no for an answer in his pursuit to get her to
give him a chance. Call it a chick flick, if you must, but there is no reason
guys won’t enjoy this refreshing flick and maybe grasp a thing or two about
women. Posy is simply fabulous. She uses her face and body to speak volumes
without uttering a word. Her chemistry with Melvil Poupaud is sizzling, the
dialogue is how people really speak to each other, and I know plenty of women
can relate to Nora in more ways than one.
Thursday evening’s after party was held inside Planet Hollywood where CineVegas
badge holders had the choice of attending any or all of the parties taking place
at the Extra Lounge, Heart Bar or the upstairs more luxurious Living Room. The
Extra Lounge was also the setting for the judging of the best five VEGAS.COM TV
commercials. Actor Dennis Hopper, comedy magician Nathan Burton, Phantom star
Brent Barrett, impressionist Gordie Brown, VEGAS.com Pres. Howard Lefkowitz and
V.P. Brian Allison, acted as judges as they, along with guests, including
director David Lynch, got to view commercials by the finalists who were flown in
from all over the country. After careful consideration, Brian Lazzaro was chosen
the winner for his clever and memorable TV ad called the All Nighter. Lazzaro
was presented with a $5,000 prize and an opportunity for the creative genius to
direct a multi-million dollar spot for VEGAS.com.
Judges award $5000 prize to Brian Lazzaro
Director David Lynch
Tao Beach above the Tao
Restaurant in the Venetian Hotel and Casino was another party setting. I had
never visited this fabulous rooftop outdoor venue with its beautiful pools and
surrounding white leather couches and lounging areas and I was blown away by the
breathtaking environment. The place is so luxurious as to be fit for royalty.
This party started at 9pm and although I didn’t get there till 11 it was still
going strong with several CineVegas film stars and other celebrities in
attendance. I passed Bobcat Goldthwait as I was making my way in to the party.
Later I made my over to Mexican screenwriter/director Simon Bross, the creative
genius behind Bad Habits, my favorite film at this year’s festival, who was
accompanied by his friend, Babel and 21 Grams screenwriter Guillermo Arriaga,
and Clifton Collins Jr. who has co-starred in Traffic and Capote. I had to let
Senor Bross know how much I loved his film and that he was a brilliant director
with a great future in cinema.
Guillermo Arriaga, Judy Thorburn and Simon Bross
Judy Thorburn and Clifton Collins Jr.
Getting to see and listen to
A-list movie stars and top filmmakers discuss their craft in person is a
highlight for most fans who attend CineVegas. This year actress Charlize Theron
was honored as the recipient of 2007’s CineVegas Half Life Award, which is given
to an actor in the prime of their career with an already impressive body of
At 3pm on Friday, June 15, Charlize sat down in front of a packed theatre for an
informal discussion with Pete Hammond of Maxim magazine to talk about her career
and to show clips from several of her upcoming movies. Charlize first said that
when Dennis Hopper called her to say she was going to be honored with this award
she “couldn’t believe it and that it really means a lot” to her. She reflected
on her early years in South Africa where was born, and how she got started as an
actress. “I was a ballerina. It was my life. At 16, my friends entered me in a
modeling contest, which I won and then went on to Europe and then New York. At
18, my knees said no more. My career was over. I went to Hollywood and here I am
today. I didn’t speak English. I had this thick Africanz accent, but was thrown
into the deep end. I had to either swim or drown. I met a guy in a bank who sent
me on auditions which was great, but I needed to speak English. My roommate, who
was from Bosnia but came to America at the age of six, helped me learn English.
I also picked it up from watching American TV shows like Dynasty and Dallas,
nothing but the best”, she said jokingly. Charlize recollected on her first
film, “Children of the Corn", either 3 or 4, can’t remember which one, but I
thought this is it. I called my Mom and said I made it, although I had no
knowledge of the film industry and was raised with the philosophy that I was
ready to pay my dues".
Charlize went on to say that “I feel blessed to work with people I consider a
mentor, who keep feeding my thirst for knowledge". She mentioned working with
Woody Allen and Dennis Hopper as examples. But, Hopper was taken by surprise and
blushed when she looked at him and stated, “He is more yummy than ever.”
Regarding her Oscar winning role of real life serial killer Aileen Wournos in
Monster, Charlize said, “I had an instant connection with Patty Jenkins who
wrote the script. Her drive and intelligence came from a place so hard to find.
Who are we? What is our nature? There is a lot of ugliness in us that we don’t
want to look at. I wanted to make this film so someone can look in the mirror
and understand who this woman is. Funny thing, I had a vivid dream during the
shooting of the film where Patty said I was being replaced by another actress. I
had paranoid moments. There is nothing subtle about this character. She was in
Dennis Hopper added, “I don’t think a man could have made this movie with all
its sexual encounters and rape. Charlize responded with “Patty said never think
of yourself as a victim. A man would have said pucker up and stop your wining."
When questioned about the possibility of directing, Charlize said “I don’t think
I want to direct”. But, producing is something else with two projects under her
belt. She is very proud of the documentary she produced called East of Havana
and was eager to show a clip and discuss the film’s subject, an underground
youth movement in Cuba that consists of rappers who express their views as a
fight against censorship.
I was surprised that Monster or any of her other movies wasn’t screened at the
festival. Instead she brought along clips from three of her upcoming films, In
The Valley of Elah which co-stars Tommy Lee Jones, Sleepwalking (formerly titled
Ferris Wheel) in which she co-produced and co-stars with Dennis Hopper (who
joined her on the couch) as her father, and Nick Stahl as her brother (who was
in the audience but was called down to sit with them), and Battle In Seattle
written and director by her boyfriend actor Stuart Townsend. “People will think
I am biased because I sleep with him (referring to Townsend). But I was blown
away by how well he wrote the script. He was incredibly passionate about it. I
am glad I kind of cast myself in the film. It is incredible and very powerful
film. He (Townsend) would have been here with me, but he is busy in the editing
Charlize Theron, Nick Stahl and Dennis Hopper
Photo by Judy Thorburn
I was very impressed by how
smart, down to earth, sweet, and genuinely humbled Charlize Theron appeared to
be. This, plus beauty and talent, she seems to have it all.
Later in the day 2007 Marquee Award recipient Anthony Hopkins, who is considered
to be one of the best living actors today, sat before a packed house to give
some insight into his background that entails almost 50 years as an actor.
Hopkins revealed that 40 years ago Peter O’Toole asked him to do a screen test.
He went on, “It was a unique experience having never made a movie”. Not many
people are aware that Hopkins was Lawrence Olivier’s understudy. He does such a
good impression of Olivier’s voice (which he gave us a sample of) that when
Spartacus was re released years later director Stanley Kubrick asked him to dub
in Olivier’s voice on the soundtrack in a scene with Tony Curtis because due to
sound problems in the old soundtrack, Olivier’s dialogue was lost.
In Magic, Hopkins played a
ventriloquist driven mad by his dummy. The actor said he was not thrilled about
working with a dummy. “I had to learn to throw my voice and did the basics. But
I got so involved (in this role) that I said “cut” to the camera as Fats (the
dummy). It was very difficult to co-ordinate the stuff.”
In the late 80’s and early 90’s Hopkins career was not going great. But being
cast in Silence of the Lambs changed everything. “I thought Nick Nolte would get
the Oscar. It was a great honor for me to win the award. There is no way of
mapping out your career. Things take you by surprise. Funny thing, I originally
thought the movie was a children’s story. I was finishing off a contract in the
theatre. Sometimes, you disappear for a few years and come back again. You get
to a certain stage in life and I think, just go with the flow. Nowadays, I also
like to paint and write music.”
When asked what role seemed effortless, Hopkins said, “Hannibal Lector. Villains
are easier to slip into. I knew this guy. I don’t know why, but I am drawn to
morbid interests. I felt the tone in my muscles. I was very specific how I
wanted him to look. The villain in Fracture was very much like someone I knew”.
Would he come back and play Hannibal in another sequel? Hopkins responded,
“Having the character locked in a glass booth is more powerful; walking the
streets not so.”
Regarding is role as President Nixon, Oliver Stone “Wanted me because he thought
I was an outsider, thought I didn’t belong. I thought I would make a complete
ass of myself, or stay in theatre in wrinkled tights for the rest of my life. I
thought after reading with some of the great American actors Stone would make
fun of me. But after putting on the clothes in wardrobe, I felt a breakthrough
and went with my intuition. As far as wearing prosthetics, you can either work
from the outside or the inside."
The worst theatre experience he ever had was when he was appearing with Judi
Dench on stage in Anthony and Cleopatra. “It was three weeks into the run and a
voice went off in my head. It said you THINK you are really good. I felt naked,
vulnerable and really open.”
After the conversation, Hopkins’ film Slipstream was screened. Before closing he
discussed how the film, in which he wrote directed and stars in, came to be.
“Three to four years ago, I sat down at the computer to see if I could write.
The story is very personal from my own life. Three times it has happened to me,
a strange stream of consciousness; it comes during a crisis, that I lost contact
with my immediate memory and all sense of time. It was the worst feeling I ever
had – most frightening. I get carried away and tend to get a bit manic when the
brain gets overloaded. In this film it is like eight seconds of your life that
you go through in an hour and a half. Relax and let it happen. I wanted to see
the breakdown, how it comes in strobes. I wanted the film to bring real terror
and anxiety. I am proud that it was accepted at Sundance and played there.”
The fact is Anthony Hopkins is a brilliant actor. But his movie Slipstream is
like one big confusing hallucination. He should stick with what he does best,
acting! This effort doesn’t pay off.
On Saturday afternoon, 2007 Vanguard Award winner, Mike Newell, the British
director of Enchanted April, Four Wedding and a Funeral, Donnie Brasco, Harry
Potter and the Goblet of Fire, just to name a few of his critically acclaimed
box office hits, had his turn on the couch. After showing short clips from some
of his best films, Newell took part in an insightful discussion about the wide
range of films, from nice romantic comedy to a mafia film that he has directed.
‘It is simply the stuff I get interested in. There is no master plan. I am
interested in the characters; the notion of a fading mafia man, a commitment
phobe, or even Harry Potter, a classical thriller. In talking about the
difference between British and Hollywood movies he sees British filmmaking as a
“cottage industry. In England the mindset is what does the audience know that I
don’t? Does it (the film) please me and more, does it please my friends. In
Hollywood it is all about discovering what the audience wants. We think the
audience doesn’t matter. It’s the same delusion. If I can inject pleasing myself
into the Hollywood way and put that trick over, that is an interesting process.”
Director Mike Newell
Newell then talked about
“needing an antidote after Harry Potter. I lobbied shamelessly for the film
adaptation of the classic novel by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Love in the Time of
Cholera. I went to screenwriter Ron Harwood. Yes, it was frightening to put such
pressure on myself, but you are compelled by the material or not. This was the
most humane piece of work I had seen in a long time. I had to go a dangerous
route and cast incredible actresses Americans were not familiar with. It doesn’t
have a hook like Angelina Jolie to hang a hat on. The movie becomes the star.
The buzz starts here (at the festival) before the film is released. It has great
actors but not commanding world stars. The novel itself is a series of intricate
flashbacks. Ron Harwood had to make the story comprehensible and tell it as a
compelling forward moving narrative. The intricate stitchwork comes through the
narrative with help from the editor and camera work so that it forms a texture,
What I could tell from the extended clip that was shown, Love in the Name of
Cholera starring Javier Bodem looks to be an engrossing and beautiful love story
that should satisfy both the director and his audience.
Another British actor, Sir Ben Kingsley was honored with the Vanguard Actor
Award. Dennis Hopper introduced Kingsley as one of the greatest living actors
and said it was a privilege working with him. The audience was surprised to find
out that he had music aspirations as a young man back in England. In the 60’s he
wrote songs for a play, was asked to sing a chorus and The Beatles manager,
Brian Epstein who was also a theatre impresario asked him to come along as part
of the show. One night John Lennon was in the audience and I got to meet him.
The story got exaggerated as years went by to the extent that word spread that
he was almost signed to be a rock star. “I wanted to pursue and acting career.
The Royal Shakespeare Company provided me with a career craft. I would have
fallen off the rails a rock star”, he laughed.
Dennis Hopper, Sir Ben Kingsley and Elvis Mitchell
You could tell that music is
still much a part of his soul as he described acting in musical terms. He said,
“Tea Leoni is this generation’s Katherine Hepburn and that working with her in
his new movie “You Kill Me” (that was going to be screened shortly after this
tribute/conversation) was like two instruments in a duet. Another great actress
I have worked with is Lauren Becall, a strong, archetypal woman.”
The actor gave some insight into his acting technique and how he sets the tone
for his character. “The first scene is very important. You have to look, speak
and set a form for the rest of the film. It’s a device that you use judiciously
and not to wear out. My first experience was with director Lord Attenborough. My
character expands over 50 years. I had to identify what would sustain me
throughout. Anger and indignation was my spine for the character. As Ghandi, I
was first introduced as an angry man being thrown from a train. I connected
every gesture to that moment, its cause and affect. If the cause is racist
violence, the affect manifests as resilience of the man thrown off the train.
The effect is residual. All the characters do what they had to do. Each man
finds their own place in destiny doing what they had to do. In House of Sand and
Fog, as Anne Franks dad, and as Meyer Lansky I approached them as patriarchs
that had to do deals to survive. In Oliver Twist, I used a memory of an old man
in an antique shop that I knew as a young child as a model for portraying Fagan.
He hunched down to be at the same level as me when he spoke to me, and I used
that posture with Fagan and the kids. Hopefully, there is redemption in all the
characters I portray, with maybe a few exceptions. Actors have to show
vulnerability, to be able to love and be loved.”
He also wanted to make it clear that the camera has to be in the right place or
actors are wasting their time.
I certainly did not waste any time listening to one of my favorite actors. I
have always admired Ben Kingsley’s acting ability, but I now am also impressed
by his intelligence and eloquence. I stayed afterwards to see his flick, the
closing night film, "You Kill Me". Again, I think he is a superb actor, but I
thought he was miscast as a Polish hit man from Buffalo with a drinking problem
who falls for Tea Leoni and makes an effort to become a changed man. They have
zero chemistry and although the story is quirky and humorous at times, I was
On Friday night an Award Reception was held outdoors, poolside at the Palms.
Maria Menounos (who earlier in the week received a star on the floor of lobby of
the Brendan Theatres and is the producer of the CineVegas screened, Land of the
Merry Misfits) was hostess for the 2007 honoree’s award presentation. Charlize
Theron, Anthony Hopkins, Ben Kingsley and Mike Newell all made their way down
the red carpet before coming on to the stage where they each graciously accepted
Maria Menounos presented with Brenden Celebrity Star by Johnny Brenden
Photo by Jill Ann Spaulding
Maria Menounos hosting Awards Ceremony
The final event was held on
Saturday afternoon. In a ceremony helmed by Artistic Director Trevor Groth,
festival President Robin Greenspun and Chairman of the Creative Advisory Board
Dennis Hopper, awards were presented to festival winners that included, among
others, Adam Rifkin’s LOOK which received the Grand Jury Prize, Tie a Yellow
Ribbon which received a Special Jury Award for Best Director, as well as All
God’s Children Can Dance which was acknowledged with a Special Jury Award for
Distinctive Visual Expression.
Additionally, the Jury Prize for the fest’s new program block focused on Mexican
cinema, La Próxima Ola, was awarded to Bad Habits (Malos Hábitos). Crowd
pleasers I Have Never Forgotten You: The Life and Legacy of Simon Wiesenthal and
Throwing Stars picked up the Audience Awards for Documentary and Narrative
Features. The Heineken Red Star Award was presented to The Living Wake.
Jennifer Aniston and Andrea Buchanan’s Room 10 received the CineVegas Short Film
Jury Prize while David Schmoeller’s Spanking Lessons received the CineVegas
Nevada Short Film Jury Prize. The jury also acknowledged BITCH, Equal
Opportunity, Year of the Dog and the local film Danuta with Honorable Mentions.
This concludes my coverage of 2007 CineVegas, the little festival that has grown
into a major showcase for some of the best up and coming filmmakers and to honor
those Hollywood entertainment icons that have made an indelible impact on
audiences and the industry. I want to thank all of the hardworking CineVegas
staff, the PR mavens at Kirvin Doak, and offer a special acknowledgment to the
volunteers, especially Alberta Gogle, Suzanne Bugg and Jackie Mussa who always
greeted me with a big friendly smile and warm personalities.
As exhausting as it is fun, I look forward to next year. Finally, as the
2007 CineVegas slogan suggests, I can get some sleep.