By CAT SMITH
Laughlin will is rolling out the red carpet and turning on the glam next month for the fourth annual Laughlin International Film Festival. The festival will run for four days from October 15-18, 2015 and will be filled with a variety of independent films submitted by filmmakers from all over the world. Filmmakers, writers, directors and actors from all over the world will converge on the small gambling mecca next month as the festival kick’s off on Oct. 15 at 7 p.m. inside Stadium 9 Cinemas (Laughlin Outlet Center) with it’s red-carpet arrivals followed by the premiere of it’s feature-length film, “Crossing Streets” a movie that follows the life of a preacher and a detective as work together to stop gang violence within their city. A special question-and-answer session will be held immediately following the film with director Mark A. Hutchins and cast mem bers. This year, said Mara Karsen, co-founder and executive director of LIFF, the festival will focus on recognizing and encouraging new up-and-coming filmmakers, especially the youth by hosting a Young Filmmaker Super Saturday. “Having a young filmmaker program as part of LIFF each year is very near and dear to my heart,” said Karsen. “If we can encourage even one young person to try their hand at filmmaking, we have succeeded. To see the excitement and passion of filmmaking come alive in a young person makes our work at LIFF a total success”. The youth workshop will be held on Oct. 17 and spearheaded by local filmmaker and three-time LIFF winner, Brian Brown, and newcomer LaJuan Johnson. Both will share their personal stories about how they delved into the world of filmmaking and followed their dreams, in addition to providing a keen insight into how young people can become filmmakers. “In addition to the youth workshop,” said Karsen. “The glitzy LIFF Awards Ceremony, which will be held for the fourth year in the Tropicana Pavilion Theater on Saturday, Oct. 17 will include a series of special awards to be presented to new up-and-coming filmmakers.” Those include: -Harry “Bud” Holland Award: In memory of local Bullhead City resident Bud Holland, who was a two-time Emmy winning cameraman during his lifetime and who was instrumental in creating the television / media program at Mohave Accelerated Learning Center (MALC). This award will be presented for a third time to honor a young or new filmmaker who exemplifies Bud’s passion for filmmaking, and who thereby strives to create something original and compelling. Last year’s winner of the Bud Holland award was local filmmaker, Andrea Zindel-Smith for her short true-crime documentary “Victim: The Terrifying Story of Sunny Coleman”. -Tropicana’s Pick “University Film” Award: For a third year, selected staff of the Tropicana will view all of the submitted films in the University Film catergory, make a selection and present their award to the winner during the ceremony. In addition to the award, the recipient will be given $250 in cash. Last year’s winner was the international short film “Into the Silent Sea” from Sweden, which has since continued to garner much acclaim on the film festival circuit. -LIFF’s Cofounders’ “Big Dreams” Award: In memory of one of the original co-founder’s, Dave Davidson, who unexpectedly passed away in November of 2014. This award will be handed out to a filmmaker who exhibited the same “never-say-die” attitude Davidson had in pursuing his dreams with film.“He was always considered to be a man who had “big dreams” and made them come true” said Karsen. “LIFF would most likely not be a reality today, if it wasn’t for his belief in the project. (Dave) would be so proud of this, she said, he was always very big on helping to encourage people to live their dreams.” -MMBF Rising Star Award: A new addition to the awards catergory is the Rising Star Award that will be presented to an emerging filmmaker to encourage continued success. Karsen said the film festival has partnered with the Matthew Martino Benevolent Fund (MMBF), an international charity based in the United Kingdom. MMBF supports filmmakers, actors and individuals studying or working in performing arts worldwide. The organization provides training, grants, scholarships and funding for first time filmmakers and provides sponsorship for film related events such as film festivals and film award ceremonies. In addition to the award, the recipient will receive $250 in cash from MMBF. For more information about MMBF, visit their website at: www.mmbf.co.uk. A new award, the Lifetime Achievement Award, will be presented to Hollywood icon Lee Meriwether. Meriwether is best remembered for her role as Catwoman in “Batman: The Movie” and for her role as Betty Jones in the popular television series “Barnaby Jones”. Meriwether also played in the “The Munsters Today” and “All My Children”. “We are so honored and proud to be able to give this award to Lee Meriwether,” said Karsen. “We have wanted to establish a LIFF Lifetime Achievement Award for the past three years and now we are finally seeing it become a reality. Having someone as impressive as Lee Meriwether to receive this first award is very exciting and the highlight of our awards ceremony this year.” The Laughlin International Film Festival is an exciting, professional and prestigious event that operates as a platform for U.S. and International filmmakers to showcase their films, network with fellow filmmakers and enjoy the casinos and attractions of Laughlin, Nev., as well as the greater Tristate area. LIFF strives to offer the community residents the opportunity to experience the art of independent cinema covering a wide range of genres. Films, both short films and feature length films, are screened in three state-of-the-art movie theaters at the Laughlin Stadium 9 Cinemas in the heart of Laughlin. As part of the 4-day event, LIFF also offers beneficial filmmaker workshops and panels conducted by filmmakers currently working in the industry. The LIFF event is highlighted by a topnotch Saturday evening Awards Ceremony, held in the Tropicana Casino Pavilion Theater. Anyone interested in attending four days of fun-filled activities and screenings of films can purchase VIP “all access” passes. The VIP passes includes admittance to all the film screenings during the four-day event, filmmaker workshops, as well as entry to all the social networking activities. Social events include the “red carpet” arrival, screening of the opening film and an “after party” at Tropicana’ Victory Plaza on Oct. 15; Friday Night After-Party at 10 p.m. on Oct. 16; LIFF’s award ceremony inside the Tropicana Pavilion Theater on Oct. 17; and a morning breakfast with a panel session with several directors, writers and film creators on Oct. 18. A full list of movies and screening times will be announced in the coming weeks. The VIP “all access” passes are available for purchase online at www.laughlinfilmfestival.com. All LIFF VIP tickets will be available for pick up at “will call” at the LIFF sales table which can be found in front of the Phoenix 9 Stadiums beginning at 9 a.m. on Oct. 15. For those not wanting to attend all four days of events can purchase individual film tickets for features and short blocks showings at $10 for adults and $8 for seniors/students. Each short block consists of approximately an hour and a half of short films and documentaries. These tickets will be available for purchase at the LIFF sales table throughout the festival. For more information about LIFF visit them online, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 702-755-8391.
Photo: Writer/Director Faith Granger taking home the LIFF Film Pick award at the 2014 film festival. Standing with Granger is Erik Karsen Puhm, co-founder and festival director for LIFF.