Cherot's feature wins Critics award at fest

HOLLYWOOD – The CineVegas Film Festival wrapped its nine-day run on Saturday night with a presentation of the Marquee Award to Dustin Hoffman and the announcement of audience and critics awards.

Critics Award, given to the top U.S. narrative feature entered in the fest, went to Christopher Scott Cherot’s “G,” about a successful rap entrepreneur who attempts to win back the love of his life a decade after they split up. Pic world-premiered at the recent Tribeca Film Festival.

Jury, which consisted of Anne Thompson, Harry Knowles and Emanuel Levy, also presented a grand prix directing prize to Bertha Bay-Sa Pan for “Face,” a look at multiple generations of Asian-American women that was first seen at Sundance. Taking an honorable mention was Wendall Adams’ “Draftdodging,” about a young man’s attempt to clarify his sense of identity.

Revitalized this year by new CEO L. Mimosa Jones and programming director Trevor Groth, fest brought in a fair share of industry reps from both coasts. Convenience was a major plus, as guests all stayed at the trendy new Palms Hotel and had only to descend in the elevator to catch films at the Brenden Theaters’ 14-plex located right off the casino lobby.

Kicking off with John Sayles’ latest, “Sunshine State,” fest featured a number of world preems, most notably Michael Almereyda’s beautiful and challenging “Happy Here and Now,” as well as Jonas Akerlund’s “Spun,” Mars Callahan’s Poolhall Junkies,” Peter CB Masterson’s “West of Here” and Don Coscarelli’s “Bubba Ho-tep,” featuring a standout turn by Bruce Campbell as an aging Elvis Presley. Closing night attraction was the debut of Michael Gallagher’s “Strange Hearts,” toplining Robert Forster and Rose McGowan.

Also figuring in the mix was a nice selection of favorites from recent fests, including Michael Winterbottom’s “24 Hour Party People” straight from Cannes, Gary Winick’s Sundance prize winner “Tadpole,” Chris Eyre’s “Skins,” Shunji Iwai’s “All About Lily Chou-Chou,” Julio Medem’s “Sex and Lucia” and Petter Naess’ “Elling.”

For good measure, there was also a high-quality retrospective of films about gambling: “Bob le Flambeur,” “California Split,” “Hard Eight,” “Casino” and “The Gambler.”

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