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Tahoe International Film Festival begins tonight

ANDREW BECKER, Sun News Service

Drag the red carpets out of winter storage and roll them out. It’s time for the fourth annual Tahoe International Film Festival. Velvet ropes are optional.

Beginning tonight at the Cal-Neva Resort in Crystal Bay with eight comedy short films, the Tahoe International Film Festival will screen 60 independent films through Monday. Screenings for the other 52 movies will either be at the Opera House in Olympic Valley or the Cobblestone Theater in Tahoe City.

If this year’s opening night gala is anything like last year’s, attendees are in for an entertaining evening. The event begins with cocktails starting at 6:30 p.m. before adjourning to the Frank Sinatra Showroom for the screenings at 9 p.m. The cost of admission is $20. For those not convinced the gala will live up to its billing, keep this in mind: One of the short comedy films screened opening night last year won an Oscar at this year’s Academy Awards on March 26.

“My Mother Dreams the Satan’s Disciples in New York,” directed by Barbara Schock, took the award for Live Action Short Film. The film, which was Schock’s graduate thesis for the American Film Institute, is about an elderly widow, Marian, from South Dakota visiting her daughter in Manhattan. While Marian tries to enjoy her stay in New York, she has difficulty overcoming her suspicions about a notorious motorcycle gang whose club is across the street from her daughter’s apartment. Marianimagines what happens within the club and eventually her imagination meets reality unexpectedly. The result is a hilarious and surprising movie that takes hold of the viewer’s imagination. The movie, which premiered in

Naples at the Italy International Film Festival in 1999 where it also won best short film, was well-received in Tahoe last year as well.

It goes to show the caliber of film the Tahoe International Film Festival is attracting, but festival co-founder Elizabeth Rogers admits the accolade was unexpected.

“It definitely surprised me,” said Rogers. “It’s great the films we’re getting are in contention. That’s exciting for us. It’s an incredibly original story. And that’s what we look for at the festival. It was a clear favorite from the first viewing.”

Besides continuing to attract Oscar-caliber films, the film festival’s aim, according to Executive Director Laura Barber, is to provide an event for the Tahoe community while it creates a venue for some of the freshest and best new talent in filmmaking.

“The film festival is simply celebrating the films and the people that make them. The explorer’s voice in storytelling is a big theme for us,” said Barber.

And storytelling there is, plenty of it, in a variety of genres. The festival is a film lover’s smorgasbord of documentary, feature, animation and short films. Ranging from moving tributes to unexpected heroes and bravery, such as in “Little Secret,” to star powered casts in feature films, like “Standing on Fishes,” all tastes and movie appetites should be satisfied.

Films are shown in blocks with generally a short film followed by a feature. Tickets for the film blocks cost $7.50 and are available in advance by phone at 582-4698 or the day-of-show at the door. The Saver Six Pack, a block of six tickets, costs $40.

There will also be panel discussions and workshops. Entry into either costs $10 per event. Don’tpanic if you can’t get to the first screening of a particular film.

There will be multiple screenings of several films.


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