At least 13 countries, including Cyprus, New Zealand, United Kingdom, Laos (PDR), Canada, Italy, Australia, Spain, France, Russia, Switzerland joined the United States in bringing professional independent film shorts and features to Nevada for their 11th Annual High Desert International Film Festival (HDIFF).
Held at the comfortable Pahrump Nugget Hotel and Casino, a long time sponsor of this popular event. Audiences were treated to animation, drama, comedy, documentary, horror and science fiction.
Created by Linda Kass and produced annually with a fiercely loyal team including Rodney Camacho, Steven and Dorothy Johnson, Michael Conlan and many others.
It’s enjoyed deep support from Pahrump Arts Council, Preferred RV Resort, Valley Electric Association, Inc., Golden Entertainment, LLC. (who owns Pahrump Nugget and two other casinos in town), Pahrump High School’s Art department, and especially Crystal Dabrowski. Other smaller businesses also pitch-in with in-kind donations. Such as, The Hubb, who hosted happy festival attendees and filmmakers to enjoy a celebration meal and laughs as they cemented friendships likely to last a lifetime.
The festival is consistently and brilliantly produced with every detail you could possibly want, including a red carpet, plenty art work, perfect sound comfortable viewing room, opportunities to mingle and ask filmmakers about their work — clearly an enriching experience to hear accents from many countries — making friends across the globe. Beautiful crystalline awards, VIP badges, parties and late night informal chats!
Many international visitors were hosted by Preferred RV Resort, a beautifully landscaped, quiet, welcoming place across the street from the Festival with a top-notch pool and jacuzzi.
HDIFF opened May 25 with “Gufors,” a UFO comedy and closed May 28 with James Horton’s, hilarious short, “Late Last Night.” None of these films were boring or bad! Winners were picked by audiences with paper ballots (The People’s Choice), and professional judges for certain categories.
Picked from over thirty entries, the winners this year: Animation: “Agrinoui” (Cyprus); Drama: “Only Humane” (New Zealand); Comedy: “Dasha The Fool” (Russian Federation); Documentary: “Gardeners of the Forest” (USA); Horror/SciFi: “Still” (UK) and Feature Film: “The Unwilling” (USA).
There were two feature films which stood out for me. The hilarious “Get A Job,” directed by Brian Kohne, co-produced by Ray Rolak, was shot entirely on Maui with Willie K, world class musician, performing as a head-hunting agent trying to get a job for a maniac surfer. The soundtrack was delightful and included surprise cameo appearances from musicians which you would recognize.
The other was “Collar,” written, produced and directed by David P. Wilson. A deeply moving, authentically portrayed story, based on true incidents, about a “good guy” detective at the end of his career who makes a tough choice split-second decision in the midst of a murder suspect chase and shoots a “well loved in the community” young black man. The ensuing devastation all-around rings true. A touchy subject handled with equanimity, this film serves as a platform for community healing when viewed and discussed.
Best of all was getting to know HDIFF’s team, who sacrifice everything and spare nothing, to put this on year after year for Nevada. It has grown, and with well earned enthusiastic word-of- mouth, combined with it’s own sterling-standard of production and outreach, we just may have a new “Hollywood scene” burgeoning in our midst! What’s more, HDIFF has already encouraged past attendees to go into the “biz.” It also inspires Pahrump’s community leaders to continue to “up the anty” on behalf of sponsoring well-managed arts experiences to enrich their residents with something grander than the usual commercially bland least-common-denominator fare.
I will be back again. Come join us. At $3.00 per segment or an affordable weekend package, you can do this! You won’t regret it — it isn’t just for film fanatics — and you will meet and laugh with some of Pahrump’s finest citizens along with people from around the world.
Sign up for submission details, sponsoring, volunteering or interning at 2018’s event at: firstname.lastname@example.org or subscribe to High Desert International Film Festival on Facebook.