Photo © Nick Leonard
“Do you remember Bob Harris?”, asked the octogenarian.
“Do I remember Bob Harris?!” replied the octogenarian he met. Based on his expression he didn’t remember what he was doing twenty minutes ago.
There are about 100 people. Maybe.
This is the Las Vegas Film Festival. Never heard of it? Join the club. It was as well advertised as a lawn chair on Craigslist, only the lawn chair would have had more inquiries. I stood, awkwardly, next to a fake plant and a few bored members of the press all craning their necks to see if anyone noteworthy was in the room. Nope.
The sad part? This was the big event.
The Red Carpet was adorned with rent-a-showgirls, the kind corporations hire to make sure people realize their product is being release in Las Vegas, and a “Las Vegas Film Festival” sponsor back drop. It seemed that the organizers forgot to tell anyone from the film that the red carpet thingy was actually happening so attendees were left staring at the rented showgirls as they did their best to smile and look like they were having fun. Once in a while someone would pose with them and pictures were fired off by anxious cameras, but the identities of the subjects would cary the byline of “Nobody”. This went on for an hour.
Saturday night was supposed to be a massive red carpet extravaganza to usher in the premier of the new film (although it pains me to call it a “film”) staring Lea Thompson (a.k.a. The Redhead in Back to the Future) entitled The Trouble With The Truth. In fact, five hours of the evening were dedicated to this flaming bag of shit on celluloid. There was the hour long red carpet sans anyone from the film, the film itself, the Q&A after the film with Lea Thompson, and then an after party (seriously?) at Caesar’s Palace (WTF?!). Did I mention that we were watching the “film”, doing the Q&A, and suffering through the red carpet at the Las Vegas Hotel but the after party is at Ceasar’s? Were the organizers from out of town? Who does that?
The median age of the audience is riding around Geritol and I’m starting to feel like I’m sitting shiva at a stranger’s house. I picked the wrong night to wear a tie. I and forty other people feeling the heat of standing around an empty carpet decided to file into the theater early and stare at a blank screen while a smooth jazz version of the Beatles’ Eleanore Rigby played on the overhead system. Somehow, this was a better idea than standing around the clusterfuck of sycophants and staring contest winners in the lobby. The theater could seat a couple thousand and there were only one-hundred people there, but for some odd reason, everyone wanted to sit in my row. It must have been my cologne. Note to self: Stop wearing Passion by Elizabeth Taylor when you go out.
Twenty minutes later some clown from the local radio station got on the microphone and told us all that we would be starting the movie a little late since Ms. Thompson was still upstairs. I imagined that she was crying on the telephone to her agent’s answering machine, hoping to hear that she got the part in the revival of Bye Bye Birdie. Ms. Thompson was being awarded an “Indie Icon Award”. Don’t get too excited…they made it up.
Soon Lea Thompson makes her way to the front row (no better way to see a film than with your head tilted back for two hours) and the guy from the radio station (whose name eludes me) walks on with a microphone to announce the movie. We all know we’re there to see the movie, we have programs that have the movie title and synopsis, and we just stared at an empty red carpet waiting for stars from said movie. Isn’t an announcement of the movie a bit redundant? Maybe it was just me, but it seemed like he was doing his best to audition for Ms. Thompson. Fifteen minutes later, the lights go down, the movie begins, and I’m soon thinking of ways to sneak the fuck out.
First of all, there was nothing “indie” about The Trouble With The Truth. Unless you find a romantic drammedy about a husband falling in love with his ex-wife particularly shocking or subversive, you’d be hard pressed to find anything “indie” about this movie. It’s frustrating because there is this very cynical attitude in marketing where terms are bandied about with the intention of capturing particular demographics and once the rube pays his money it doesn’t matter if the product actually lives up to marketed image. In this case they decided “if we can’t get wide distribution on this pile of shit, perhaps we’ll call it indie and get some suckers to rent it on Netflix”. Well played, sir. Well played.
“Are you going to the party?”
This question was asked by a Sixty-something that was wearing an outfit from Forever 21. Marketing claims another victim.
“Sure,” I lied. “Sounds like a gass.”
It was difficult not to compare the Las Vegas Film Festival to Cinevegas but this was like Cinevegas in its infancy when everything happened at UNLV….only that was more organized and attendees actually felt like they were part of the experience. This was nothing more than a hodgepodge of leftovers that couldn’t get play in closing Blockbuster, and the organizers, for all of the glossy programs and posters, treated it like a sick mule.
ArtsVegas: Covering Las Vegas Art and culture since 2009.