Patty Fantasia

The Las Vegas Film Festival Returns with Films, Celebrities, Red Carpets, and More!

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The Las Vegas Film Festival Returns with Films, Celebrities, Red Carpets, and More!

By Patty Fantasia



The Las Vegas Film Festival returns to the Hilton Hotel from July 14-17 featuring screenings, exclusive Las Vegas premieres, red carpet and VIP parties, galas, interactive filmmaker panels, a screenplay competition and a closing awards ceremony. Designed to showcase more than 40 award-winning features, shorts, foreign films documentaries and animation, “The Story” has been chosen as the opening night premiere film on Friday, July 15th at 7:00pm in the Hilton Theater. Produced by The Ski Channel, the film stars ski legends and Olympic gold medalists Bode Miller and Lindsay Vonn. Disguised as a ski documentary, the film has been described as a riveting examination of what compels people to excel when they are faced with the most extreme circumstances. Along the way the audience is introduced to amazing and eccentric characters that include heroes and misfits as well as heroes who are misfits and in the process allows the viewers to learn a great deal about themselves as well. Tickets to the premiere are free to the public for the first 200 reservations at A red carpet with celebrities and filmmakers from this year’s festival will be held prior to the screening at 5:30pm and a VIP party will follow at Benihana Village inside the Hilton.


Festival Director Milo Kostelecky believes that this year the event is bringing some of the finest independent cinema from around the world to Las Vegas. He also believes that the variety and quality of films being screened will offer something for everyone while promoting Las Vegas a major filmmaking destination. In addition, for the second year in a row, the Festival will feature two student film blocks showcasing a collection of short films by student filmmakers from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and the College of Southern Nevada.


Another new addition to this year’s festival is a Filmmakers and Screenwriters Networking Dinner that will be held at Piero’s Restaurant on Thursday, July 14 at 8:00pm. Several scenes from Martin Scorsese’s film “Casino” were filmed at the restaurant, which was the actual location where the real-life characters played by Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci frequented. Members of the Rat Pack and other celebrities have also been known to visit the Five-Star rated eatery. Tickets are $95.00 and offered on a first-come, first-served basis.

This year more panels aimed at filmmakers are also included and have been organized similarly to the way it was organized two years ago when the Festival was held at the Cannery. First up will be the Screenwriters Panel on Saturday, July 16 at 5pm in the Ballroom at the Hilton, then on Sunday July 17 a Producers Panel is scheduled at 1:00pm followed by a Filmmakers Panel at 3:00pm.

One of the highlights at the event will be a celebrity tribute and presentation of the “Indie Icon” Award to actor Michael Madsen, who has starred in over 170 films including Reservoir Dogs, Kill Bill and Sin City. A special screening of his movie “Vice” will kick off the festivities on Saturday July 16 at 4:15pm followed by an intimate conversation and audience Q&A with Madsen after he receives the award. Moderating the event will be Michael’s friend, award winning actor/director Ash Adams, who is no stranger to the Las Vegas Film Festival. Last year his movie “Once Fallen” won the prize for Best Film and his short “Peter’s Hope”, which he wrote, directed and produced, will be screening later that evening at 8:40pm in the Hilton Theater. Adams has been friends with Madsen for years and they have worked on projects together including the true-life documentary film “The Distance” as well. Ash suggested Madsen for the award and is putting together the tribute piece. He said, “For me, Michael is pure Americana, the outlaw renegade with a heart of gold and when he’s finished we should just have him bronzed.” After the tribute Madsen, who has been writing poetry for over 10 years, will be signing copies of his latest book from 7:00pm to 8:45 pm at the Tempo Lounge inside the Hilton. This event is free to the public for the first 500 tickets reserved at .

There are two more special events worth noting that are also scheduled for Saturday, July 16th. At 9:00am in the Hilton Theatre will be another tribute dedicated to animator Chuck Jones, whose work included “Looney Tunes”, “Tom and Jerry” and “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”. As part of this event the festival will host Celebrity Saturday Morning Cartoons, featuring a collection of Chuck’s famous animation followed by an intimate conversation and audience Q&A with Craig Kausen, the grandson of the man many consider to be the greatest cartoonist of all time. Later on at 2:00 in the Hilton Ballroom there will also be A Conversation with Henry Hill and His Favorite Wise Guys. Legendary ex-mobster Henry Hill, who was played by Ray Liotta in “Goodfellas” and his wise guys Frank Cullotta (Casino), Meyer Lanksy II (Godfather 2), Anntonette Giancanna (Godfather 2), Tony Fontana (Casino) and Craig Vincent (Casino) will talk about the mob both in the old days as well as into the future as they offer a special interactive discussion and audience Q&A.

Tickets for the festival will be $8 for individual screenings and $25 for a five-film mini pass. All-day film passes are also being offered for $50, along with an all-access pass for $100 and an all-access plus pass for $150. There are also special discounts available for students and seniors. For a detailed list of events, ticket information and other details about the festival, visit or call (702) 463-4707.