‘Red Rock Film Festival’ opening events to be reminiscent of a ‘retro night at the movies’

Photo courtesy of Red Rock Film Festival, St. George News

CEDAR CITY — With 160 new films from 29 countries, the “Red Rock Film Festival & Market” opens Saturday evening at the Ramada Conference Center in Cedar City with a sample of competition films. The festival runs through Nov. 19.

Presented like a retro night at the movies, Saturday’s opening night events will include a mock newsreel, a cartoon, a couple of short subjects plus a music video and an experimental nature film before the feature film “Floating Horses: the Life of Casey Tibbs.”

“We wanted to recreate the thrill of going to the movies that had short films before the feature with the added bonus of indie filmmakers coming to their premiere,” said Matt Marxteyn, Red Rock Film Festival director.

The all-night event begins in the early evening with a catered dinner at the newly remodeled Ramada, followed by the red-carpet “Welcome Ceremony,” the shorts and feature film and culminating in an opening night party. Attendees have the option to purchase tickets to some or all of the evening’s events.

Opening night attendees will travel from the past to the future

Justin Koehler, director of “Floating Horses: the Life of Casey Tibbs,” is no stranger to the world of documentaries. He has worked on projects that aired on History, Discovery and the Weather Channel, as well as historical films for the United States military and the National Park Service, which includes the 2014 PBS series, “Civil War: The Untold Story.”

According to IMDB, “Floating Horses” tells the story of American cowboy Casey Tibbs, a nine-time world champion who left home at the age of 13 in 1942 due to his father’s disdain of rodeo. Tibbs had a rags-to-riches life after his groundbreaking spurring lick was developed, and he was launched to stardom.

Screen capture from “Hyperloop One: A Nation of Dreamers” | Photo courtesy Red Rock Film Festival, St. George New / Cedar City News

Consistent with “Floating Horses” most of the shorts carry a Western theme, with one short, “Hyperloop One: A Nation Of Dreamers” – or the ‘newsreel’ as the festival is marketing it – sticking out with its futuristic take on transportation. This will be the world premiere of the film by Emily Siegel and Frankie Turiano.

According to a press statement from the festival, deep in the Las Vegas desert, there is a top secret testing site — it’s not a containment for a UFO, not a testing site for a nuclear weapon, and it’s not Area 51. The site is the home of the Hyperloop, a mass transit system that would travel from L.A. to San Francisco in 30 minutes.

“You know that little container that sucks up the tube at the drive-up bank teller?” Marxteyn said. “It’s like that, but big enough to fit people. And it’s insane.”

This documentary short includes exclusive, never-before-seen footage of the Hyperloop system, and attendees in Southern Utah get to see it for the first time.

As to the opening night cartoon, Yoni Salmon’s “Niggun” features a more traditional mode of transportation: a spaceship.

Still from “Niggun” | Photo courtesy of Red Rock Film Festival, St. George News / Cedar City News

Taking place in a sci-fi/Western setting, “Niggun” takes a space archaeolologist and an outcast rabbi on a journey to prove that all mankind did originate from the same tiny blue planet, and the rabbi is searching for a Jerusalem that is not just a mystical idea but an actual place.

Attendees who have been to the Red Rock Film Festival before will be familiar with the nature films the festival has shown, and music composer/director Martin Gerigk’s “Energy” follows in the same vein as it takes 12 cellos and nature sounds and sets them to rhythmic video sequences. In addition to “Energy,” Gerigk has two other shorts at the festival: “Structures of Nature” in the experimental program on Sunday and “Rain” in the music video program on Friday.

Also part of Saturday’s opening night is Gio Toninelo’s music video “Dancing Girls,” inspired by Western TV shows and starring Estella Dawn, a finalist from “New Zealand’s Got Talent.”

As part of the sample into the Red Rock Film Festival, opening night also includes Ben Glassman’s student film “Silence,” which brings back the Academy 4:3 aspect ratio of classic films. “Silence” is about a Jewish man hiding in German-occupied Poland who rediscovers the joy of music.

In keeping with the Western theme, Gary and AJ Groth’s “I Built a Wall” is about a man who builds a brick wall in the middle of a field as a form of separation from ‘Her.’ The Groths met while in film school working on various productions together, and soon marriage was the logical next step. They said that they are interested in telling stories, to captivate the psychological effect that individuals have on one another as they explore their intimate, interconnected relationships with other humans, the world and reality.

Attendees wanting a glimpse of the several films playing at the festival are encouraged to come to the welcome ceremony, where they can meet the filmmakers on the red carpet and see trailers for the films at the festival.

Veterans are invited to attend select screenings on Sunday for free from 1:30-9 p.m., which includes the 8:10 p.m. screening of the feature documentary “The Longest Road,” from Matthew Charles Hall and Jennifer Salcido. The film follows former Army sergeant Richard Campos, who returns to Iraq with a Vietnam veteran, a Gold Star father, a Muslim heart surgeon and a Catholic nun to aid the Northern Iraqi civilians who have been displaced by a terrorist regime.

The Red Rock Film Festival opening night begins at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday with the dinner, followed by the red carpet and welcome ceremony at 6:15 p.m., films at 7 p.m. and after party at 9:30 p.m.

Admission for all opening night events is $30 in advance or $10 for the films and welcome ceremony. Tickets are available by calling 435-705-5555 or at the door.

For more information on the films, schedule and pricing, click here.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @STGnews

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