UNLV film school brats face off at annual CineVegas showcase

UNLV showcase
Scenes from UNLV’s shorts: Clockwise, from top left: Are You Sleeping, Brother John, 48 Hours – The Mockumentary, Don’t Spill the Beans, Thin Walls.

It’s tough enough being a student at UNLV in general – looming budget cuts, bottom-ranked football team, questionably valued degrees – but for UNLV Department of Film majors, it’s perhaps even tougher. I mean, what famed director ever talks about their education at UNLV? USC, UCLA, The New School, sure — but Tumbleweed Tech? Not so much.

However, that’s not to say these kids don’t try. The highlight of their year for the film school, one must assume, is the UNLV Showcase at the CineVegas Film Festival, where the top shorts by UNLV’s film students get their time in the (potentially) international spotlight on a big screen at The Palms’ Brenden Theaters. Of course, there is typically barely any room for the outside world even to get a look at these mini-movies, as seats tend to be filled with hundreds of the filmmakers’ friends, family and crews.

But I digress. This year’s showcase seemed to offer less memorable offerings than the 2007 version, though the general production values seem overall better. Sitting through the two-hour cavalcade of amateur filmmaking was, at times, alternatively tedious, joyful, tear inducing boring and enjoyable. Though the student filmmakers should be applauded for their efforts no matter what, that doesn’t mean we’re going to go easy on ‘em all. Here’s the lowdown on the 15 shorts through which I endured last night:

  • 48 Hours – The Mockumentary: This was probably the best comedy of the bunch. Short, funny and professionally polished. (Directed by Jeremy Cloe)
  • Cold Feet: Terrible sound, bad cinematography and wooden acting. If this was supposed to be a comedy, it wasn’t funny. (Directed by Nick VanDevender)
  • Don’t Spill the Beans: Very clever satire of 1940s noir filmmaking – if this turns up on YouTube, watch it; there are a few jokes that take about a minute to set in, but once they do, you won’t be able to stop laughing. (Directed by Andy Carney)
  • Simon: Possibly the crowd favorite judging by reaction, and with good reason – director West McDowell (whose uncredited short film about downtown Las Vegas we featured previously) crafted an interesting, convincing underdog tale.
  • Comedy is Pain: This mock tribute to a late, failed comedian didn’t really go anywhere, but surprisingly the subject’s “unfunny” jokes he tells on stage are actually pretty good chucklers. (Directed by Kynan Dias)
  • Champ Steel: I giggled often at this faux-infomercial advertising the services of a middle-aged, out-of-shape celebrity bodyguard. (Directed by David Bryan)
  • Interruption: This mockumentary about an old woman’s junk-collecting obsession had such potential and then just fell flat. (Directed by Crystal Meeks)
  • Magic Hour: All style, no substance. Complete waste of three minutes. (Directed by A.J. Ovio)
  • A Boy and a Boombox: Hip and clever tale of a magic boombox changing the life of a young man and his friends. Inspiring and funny. (Directed by Kathrina Bognot)
  • Thin Walls: Director Jeremy Cloe proves he can handle suspense as well as he did comedy with this well written, backwards-working drama about the interlocking lives of three neighbors.
  • Are You Sleeping, Brother John: This could have been a solid murder mystery save for the slow pacing, uneven sound and overwrought acting. (Directed by Kyle Soehngen)
  • The Rose: A Twilight Zone-inspired twist at the end almost makes up for this otherwise sophomoric suspense film directed by Clinton James.
  • HIStory: Let’s ignore that it has the same name as one of Michael Jackson’s albums. Director Rei Vallejo’s coming-of-age tale is well acted, professionally polished and … cheesy as all get out. Perfect for ABC Family.
  • The Box: The showcase ended at almost 11 p.m. with back-to-back horror films – clever programming. This one was predictable but well executed. (Directed by Eddie Uehara)
  • All That Remains of Me: You know we couldn’t get through this lot without a zombie movie. Director Rob Sholty delivers a gruesome, stylish take on that overdone genre.

2 Responses to “UNLV film school brats face off at annual CineVegas showcase”

  1. The students gave it there best. We proudley support the students.

  2. I think your reviews are kinda crappy and you are obviously not that experienced in what you talk about.. idiot