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Dam Short Film Festival surpasses organizers’ expectations

For the first time in its 12-year history, the Dam Short Film Festival sold out the Boulder Theatre on Saturday night during its Best of the Fest awards show.

According to festival director John Labonney, the event turned out better than anyone had expected.

“It takes an entire year to put on a festival. This one in particular was one of the hardest ones because we had so many submissions,” Labonney said. “In previous years we accepted about 500 submissions. This year we had over 800 films submitted to the film festival.”

In total, 129 films were shown, in genres such as drama, romance, comedy, animation, science fiction and horror. Films were shown from noon to 9 p.m. in about hourlong blocks.

Forty film crews from across the world turned out to watch their shorts and to support other filmmakers.

Michael Evans, who won the Final Draft Best Screenplay for his horror film “Trivia Night,” said the festival was very positive and gave him a platform to showcase a film he has been working on since October 2014.

“The fact that the whole festival is short films really speaks to me because that is all that I’ve done so far,” Evans said. “This is the first time I’ve been to Boulder City and I found it to be a very charming town. I instantly fell in love with it.”

Evan’s film centers on a game show called “Trivia Night!” that calls its unsuspecting contestant Susan and begins to ask her a series of three questions. If she answers any of those trivia questions wrong, she dies.

Evans, who acknowledges that he has been a huge fan of horror movies with “bleak endings,” originally created the idea of having a radio show instead of a game show. After sitting down with Tom Peck, who plays the host of “Trivia Night!” and refining his idea, they came up with what was ultimately shown to viewers at the Dam Short Film Festival.

“I am planning to come back next year for sure,” Evans said.

After each program block, audience members were given tokens to vote for which film they thought was the best. Awards for the best from each category as well as the Best of the Fest were determined by the film that received the highest percentage of tokens during its screening.

Clinton Cornwell, director of the romantic/comedy “Kiss and Tell” found that the best inspiration for his short came out of real-life experiences.

“I went on a lot of online dates,” Cornwell said jokingly. “I went on about 40 online dates in a year. I asked to kiss some girls sometimes. Sometimes it worked out, sometimes it didn’t. The awkwardness of that inspired ‘Kiss and Tell.’ “

According to Labonney, the festival committee is meeting next week in order to prepare for next year’s Dam Short Film Festival.

“We want to take care of filmmakers and give them audience,” Labonney said. “That’s the one thing they have difficulty doing for themselves. It’s real easy for them to put their movie online, but there’s nothing like making it play in front of an audience.”

Contact reporter Juan Diego Pergentili at jpergentili@bouldercityreview.com or at 702-586-9401. Follow him on Twitter @jdpbcreview.

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Weekend’s Best Bets, March 19

1 BLOOMIN’ FUN: After winter rains, the desert surrounding Boulder City and throughout Lake Mead National Recreation Area is in bloom. The southern end of the park has seen the most wildflowers. As temperatures warm, the flowers will begin to bloom in the northern parts.

Weekend’s Best Bets, March 12

1 PATRIOTIC PANCAKES: Help raise funds for the local American Legion, Post 31, and veterans by joining members for breakfast Saturday. Scheduled from 7-10:30 a.m. at the post, 508 California Ave., the menu includes pancakes, sausage, orange juice and coffee. Cost is $6 for adults and $4 for children.

Weekend’s Best Bets, March 5

1 ‘MALEFICENT’ MOVIE: Boulder City Library will show “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil” at 6 p.m. Friday. The film tells the story of Maleficent, who travels to an old castle for the wedding of Aurora to Prince Phillip. While there she learns of a plot by Aurora’s future mother-in-law to destroy the land’s fairies and she joins a group of outcasts to stop her. Those attending are welcome to bring snacks, comfortable chairs and blankets. The Friends of the Library will have snacks and books available for a donation. The library is at 701 Adams Blvd.

Weekend’s Best Bets, Feb. 27

1 HISTORIC TALE: “Harriet,” the story of Harriet Tubman, who escaped from slavery in 1849 and then helped hundreds of others through the Underground Railroad, will be shown at 5:30 p.m. Friday in the community room of the Boulder City Library, 701 Adams Blvd. Snacks and drinks, along with comfortable chairs and blankets can be brought to the screening.

Weekend’s Best Bets, Feb. 20

1 RIVER HISTORY: Boulder City/Hoover Dam Museum’s Third Thursday educational lecture series resumes tonight with a presentation about the Colorado River by local resident George Rhee. A native of Geneva, Rhee has taught at UNLV in the physics and astronomy department since 1993 and also works on climate, water and energy research. The museum is inside the Boulder Dam Hotel, 1305 Arizona St. Call 702-294-1988 for more information.

Weekend’s Best Bets, Feb. 13

1 MOVIE TIME: The Dam Short Film Festival returns for its 16th incarnation today, Feb. 13, and continues through Sunday, Feb. 16, at the historic Boulder Theatre, 1225 Arizona St. More than 145 films in a variety of genres will be shown. The festival also includes a meet and greet event, a mixer and an awards party. Special screenings of the award-winning films are scheduled for Monday, Feb. 17. Visit https://damshortfilm.org/ for a full schedule and more information.

Weekend’s Best Bets, Feb. 6

1 STORY ON THE GO: Learn what happens “If You Give a Moose a Muffin” as you stroll through the Boulder City/Hoover Dam Museum as part of Storywalk, a joint project with Boulder City Library. There is no cost to participate and all children who complete an activity sheet and turn it in at the library, 701 Adams Blvd., will get a prize. The museum is inside the Boulder Dam Hotel, 1305 Arizona St., and is open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Admission is free.

Weekend’s Best Bets, Jan. 30

1 HEAVENLY GAZING: Rangers from Lake Mead National Recreation Area are joining with members of the Las Vegas Astronomical Society for a star party Saturday at the amphitheater at Boulder Beach. A program to learn about the night sky, as well as how to protect and view it, at 5:30 p.m. will begin the event. A telescope will be available from 6-8 p.m. to view constellations and planets. Those attending should bring water and a flashlight, preferably with a red filter. Reservations are recommended and can be made by calling 702-293-8990.

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1 FULL STEAM AHEAD: Immerse yourself in a large-scale, outdoor model railroad that you can ride on. The trains, powered by live steam engines or diesel-electric locomotive replicas, run along a 7.5-inch gauge line near the depot at the Nevada State Railroad Museum, 601 Yucca St. The steamers run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. the second and fourth Saturday of each month. Rides are free and no tickets are required. The trains are owned and operated by volunteer members of the Friends of the Nevada Southern Railway. For more information, visit http://bit.ly/2R01Vq9.