The High Desert International Film Festival is certainly living up to its moniker, as organizers received film submissions from 12 countries this year.
The 11th annual event, hosted by the Pahrump Arts Council, kicked off Thursday at the Pahrump Nugget Hotel and Casino-Event Center with a 6 p.m. free meet and greet and opening ceremony.
Founder Linda Kass said film categories this year include animation, comedy, drama, along with horror and science fiction.
Film submissions have been entered from all over the world including Germany, Iran, India, France, Switzerland, Italy, Cuba and Russia.
Prizes will be awarded to the films selected best in each of these categories by a qualified panel of judges.
“We have a great selection of short films for Friday and Saturday and also a selection of feature films throughout the entire four days,” Kass said. “When we say feature films, we are talking full-length films that are at least an hour and 15 minutes up to an hour and a half.”
Kass said her organization subscribes to a film brokerage company known as “Film Freeway,” which facilitates submissions with the filmmakers for the film festival.
“The filmmakers look through the listings and they find film festivals that they feel would be a fit for them and then they submit their film,” she said. “Rodney Camacho is our executive director and programmer and he goes through and he selects the ones that are pretty much family-friendly. There are a few films with colorful language but we try to keep the films family-friendly. He puts the program together and off we go. There are numerous categories.”
Pahrump as film location
Kass noted that after 11 years, Nye County and Pahrump have become a very popular locale for filmmakers to create their particular brand of movie.
“We have a couple of local films and my dream has always been to showcase Southern Nevada, especially Nye County as a filmmaker-friendly destination. We have had people come from Canada to film here either during or after the film festival. The one for this year will screen on Saturday and the name of it is “Last Plane to Nowhere.”
The director, Wayne Bradford, is from Canada. He brought his crew to Pahrump during the film festival last year. They shot the film here and he submitted it to the 2017 High Desert International Film Festival. The local star is Michael Conlan.”
As a result, Kass said, word is spreading among the film industry about Nye County being a great location to shoot feature films, and at times, using local talent.
“Wayne and his crew will be here this year and they are going to be talking this up,” she said. “They go to other film festivals and let them know that they were in Nye County and it was so friendly. They really talk up this area. It is proving without a doubt that the filmmakers are realizing that Nye County and Pahrump is an extremely filmmaker-friendly place. They just keep coming back and they’re going to do it again this year. Obviously, it affects our economy in a positive way.”
After starting the High Desert International Film Festival more than a decade ago, Kass said her dream is finally coming to fruition within the community.
“It’s really happening,” she said. “I began this film festival because number one, I love movies. I also love to bring an artist to an audience because no matter what the art form is, it cannot successfully work in a vacuum. It has to have an audience to tell them how fantastic it is or that they have missed the mark and they should go back to the drawing board. That was my main goal and it is happening.”
Kass also spoke about a local filmmaker whose film will premiere on Sunday.
“It’s a short film by James Horton, who was a local gentleman,” she said. “The name of his film is ‘Late Last Night.’ We also have another local film and there will be a special screening on Sunday night. We really try to bend over backwards for our local talent. This is not the only film festival that they submit this to. They also submit them to film festivals worldwide. As a result, other film festivals see this.”
Contact reporter Selwyn Harris at firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter: @pvtimes