Tail Jar

Jasper St Aubyn West

Las Vegas Film Festival 2015

LVFF 2015.

I've just returned home from a whirlwind trip in support of our film Double-Blind no.1 which screened at the Las Vegas Film Festival...

Truly one of the strangest places on earth, a shimmering monument to money and excess. Neon lava flow oozing out of cracks in the Nevada desert. 

Tourists begin to haemorrhage money the moment they get off the plane and the whole city is designed to mop up the spill. Leaving you blissfully unaware or in a sweaty hungover state of acceptance because hey, it's Vegas baby... 

You are greeted with gaming machines as soon as you clear customs at the airport.

There is some comfort in knowing, without a shadow of doubt that every bastard around you is after your money. It alleviates any paranoia of theft, especially if you're in a casino. Every square inch of a casino floor is covered by high tech surveillance, in multiple angles... Unless you're trying to screw over the joint, or you don't want your particular flavour of party favour captured in high definition. A Las Vegas casino may be one of the safest places on the planet to get drunk in and not have to worry about your wallet.

It can also be fun to wander back and forth between Blackjack tables pretending to count cards and see how many casino staff start to tail you...

I've been to Vegas before, briefly. And to be honest I had no intention of ever returning. Last time I never made it off the strip, some friends and I drove in from Palm Springs and stayed for a few nights before heading back to L.A. Thankfully the Las Vegas Film Festival is held downtown. Off Freemont st. and although it's still as crazy as a desert fever dream, Freemont st and the downtown area has one major thing the strip doesn't. A real sense of history.

Sure, you can spend a night in a hotel themed like New York, Paris or a fucking Pyramid on the strip but the key word there is "themed". All the super casino/hotels remind me of a christmas window display at a major department store or the main street of Disneyland. Fake tits, fake facades, fake Eiffel tower... Downtown is where the remnants of the frontier town that Vegas once was remain.

The view from my room at the Luxor, right up the Sphynx's sphincter...  

The festival itself was great, with all screenings contained in a single theatre (with side events/parties happening at other venues all within walking distance) it made for a relaxing festival experience not having to travel across town to catch all the flicks. A filmmaker lounge was set up a few doors down from the theatre which provided a welcome chill out zone away from the desert heat between shows. I stayed at El Cortez which may not be the classiest hotel on the planet but as I said before it sure does have a history and it was literally across the street from the festival. So a win overall.

Rooftop of the El Cortez Hotel & Casino.

Not the best shot but that's a lightning bolt hitting El Cortez during a surprise desert storm.

Attending a festival always gets the creative brain worked up so I'm looking forward to getting stuck into a few more personal projects. There were some excellent shorts and features, some particularly moving documentaries in selection and it was overall a well organised event. I'd recommend the festival for sure... Vegas itself? 

The desert is absolutely beautiful...

To be honest, it's worth checking out for the sheer craziness alone.

From the program.