LAS VEGAS (KTNV) – In the nearly two decades that it has existed, the Dam Short Film Festival has been forced to try something totally new last year.
âWe had an incredible virtual festival,â said Tsvetelina Stefanova, executive director of the association. Because of the pandemic, like so many other organizations, it has had to adapt. And she did. The virtual festival was a huge success.
âWe just got such a good response from the filmmakers, the audience,â Stefanova said. âWe were thus able to reach a much larger audience. “
With the event on track to make a face-to-face return in February at the historic Boulder Theater in Boulder City, organizers are taking advantage of some of the perks of the streaming model and offering a retrospective of the Nevada filmmaker for the month of November.
For $ 10, you can watch 11 short films made by local filmmakers from the comfort of your sofa.
“[They are] all the Nevada films that have been screened at previous festivals that either won awards at our festival or were audience favorites, âStefanova explained.
Film Spotlight: “Rick Thunder inâ¦ Look Back Tomorrow”
Jason Harris is a comedian and filmmaker in Las Vegas with a short film featured in the retrospective.
As a comedian, he says he’s done everything from small open mic parties to introducing President Joe Biden on stage. âI did stand-up at a midnight show at the Dam Short Film Festival, which was really fun,â Harris said.
His film “Rick Thunder Inâ¦ Look Back Tomorrow” plays on the classic film noir style.
âIt’s a film noir set in an apartment complex,â Harris said. “Rick Thunder is the best and the only detective in Copper Creek. He takes care of every case, no matter how small. And this one is one of the smallest.”
“Rick Thunder” is an official selection of the Dam Short Film Festival in 2019.
Harris says the film also won awards and has been screened around the world. “For a short production, this thing went beyond its cover and worked really well for us.”
While Jason’s comedy background is evident in his film, the festival – and retrospective – features short films in a variety of genres.
Spotlight on the film: “Rainshadow”
Kari Barber is a decorated filmmaker with a streaming documentary in the retrospective titled “Rainshadow”.
âThis is a school that took a different approach, that changed the lives of the students,â she said. “But not everyone saw school as a success. I guess the question in the movie for me is what does it really mean to be successful in education?”
Barber was drawn to documentary filmmaking because she is passionate about social justice and social issues.
“It’s definitely a heavy topic,” she said of “Rainshadow”. âI mean, these are students who’ve been bullied, students who’ve had, you know, mental health issues, struggles and even thoughts of suicide, that sort of thing. A really heavy movie. “
Heavy, but punchy. The film won him the Nevada Best Film Director award at the festival for 2020. It’s an honor chosen by the public.
âI was absolutely honored that the film won,â she said.
As a filmmaker she has covered all kinds of social issues. Her latest film, a feature film titled “Struggle and Hope,” dealt with racial issues in the southern United States and where she is from in Oklahoma, she says. It aired nationally on âAmerica ReFramedâ.
Barber has made nearly a dozen films with more in the works
âI feel passionate about some social issues and if I can have a small role in making things better, it’s huge,â she said.
Spotlight on the film: “Sweatheart Dancers”
Another notable film is Ben-Alex Dupris’ “Sweetheart Dancers”, about two Native American dancers who challenge the status quo.
The film won the Dupris Award for Best Director of Nevada in 2019 and received international distribution.
Watch them all
Each film is very different from the last, all are worth seeing. The full list of films available in the retrospective and their descriptions are below.
Celebration of art
While the Dam Short Film Festival of course celebrates local filmmakers, it also makes sure to spotlight talented illustrators.
In recent years, the organization has held an art competition to showcase an artist’s work for this year’s festival poster.
This year’s winner is artist Jacobj Gallegos. You can see more of her work on Instagram at @jacobj_gallegos.
âWe are really very happy that so many artists want to participate and care about submitting and sharing their art with us,â Stefanova said.
See more submissions for the 2021 poster competition and find out more about the film’s retrospective and the upcoming festival at damshortfilm.org.