Vegas Independent Film Festival

Vegas Independent Film Festival
Photos by Nikki Artale

Las Vegas filmmaker Derek Stonebarger launched the Vegas Independent Film Festival (VIFF) November 17-20, 2011 at the Century Theater at the Orleans and Theatre7, 1406 South 3rd St. Las Vegas NV. The festival screened documentaries, feature films, short films, music videos by independent filmmakers. The selected films were outstanding and many won the Golden Bulb awards, authenticated bulbs which are from the Welcome to Las Vegas sign on Las Vegas Blvd.

   Derek Stonebarger

The festival started by honoring Ted V. Mikels, an indie film legend, by having his hands immortalized in concrete. What I first noticed about Ted was his white handlebar moustache and a huge boars tooth hanging on a chain around his neck. Ted was so charming and sweet and I could see the twinkle in his eyes as he answered my questions about his phenomenal life.
At age 82, he is still making films, his latest one is “Astro Zombies: M4—Invaders from Cyberspace.” Ted has been making movies for 62 years and said he started filming when he was 12 years old. When Ted started his film career he rented cameras and then bought his first camera, a Mitchell which cost him $300,000 and took eight years to pay for it. Ted has filmed every known genre, musicals, adventure, heavy drama and horror films. As a writer, producer, director and cinematographer, he does it all and always includes his friend Dr. Wendy Altamura in his films.

 Ted V. Mikels

                                      Ted V. Mikels & Dr. Wendy Altamura

The first Red Carpet event was for the opening night feature film, “40 West”, directed by Dana Packard and featured Wayne Newton, Jennifer Nichole Porter, Brian White and Scott Winters. We are sad to announce that Scott Winters passed away a few months ago. His wife Sandy Winters came to the film festival in his honor.

                                  Dana Packard & Jennifer Nichole Porter

 Dana Packard,Jennifer Nichole Porter,Brian A White, Sandy Winters
Jennifer wrote and starred in the movie that takes place in a motel in a small town in Texas. Brian White plays her husband who tried to kill her 5 years ago; he has just been released early from prison and has tracked her down to the motel. It is a thriller and a dark comedy that touches the soul. Wayne Newton who co-stars in the film wanted to be in the movie as soon as he read the script. We loved Wayne in the movie. There were a lot of Wayne’s fans in the theater the night of the premiere and many came up to talk to him and his beautiful wife, Kathleen McCrone, while he was seated and waiting for the film to start.

 Wayne Newton & Kathleen McCrone

              Nikki Artale, Wayne Newton & Jennifer Nichole Porter

Wayne Newton lives on a 40 acre estate called Casa de Shenandoa that features Arabian Horses and South African penguins. It will soon be opening as a tourist attraction in January or February.

Two world premiers closed the film festival on Nov. 20. The Adventures of Loop & Rhett, a western short, directed by Michael Su and Bubblegum & Broken Fingers, directed by Sean Jackson. All were amazing films and I was impressed by the movies that were selected for the film festival this year.

                                       Sean Jackson

                                 Bubble Gum & Broken Fingers cast

“Hollywood to Dollywood” is a documentary about twin brothers Gary and Larry Lane who have idolized Dolly Parton for years and they embarked on a 2200 mile road trip from Hollywood to Dollywood to meet Dolly. Gary and Larry wrote a feature film story for Dolly and wanted to hand her the script to read. They traveled in their RV named Jolene. What is great about this film is that they played 15 of Dolly’s hit songs. They finally did get to meet Dolly Parton and hand her their script. A Golden Bulb award was given to them for the Best Musical Video and for best Editing.

                                          Gary & Larry Lane

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The evening concluded at the Piranha nightclub where a special performance by two Dolly Parton Impersonators put on a show for the Lane Twins. What a crowd, what a night.

Derek Stonebarger, founder of Theatre7 in the arts district created the film festival for Independent Filmmakers and Derek is on his way to make it the most prestigious festival in Las Vegas. VIFF was exciting and the films selected were great.


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