All that remains of the CineVegas website is a white page with the words, “Future home of something quite cool.”
In fact, www.cinevegas.com was the past home of “something quite cool” — from 1999 until 2099, CineVegas showcased eclectic genre fare like Bubba Ho-Tep and Land of the Dead alongside such high-profile productions as Ocean’s Thirteen. Exactly what you’d expect from a film festival that had the inimitable Dennis Hopper as its chairman.
The fun ground to a halt in 2009, when festival president Robin Greenspun announced that the economic downturn had forced them to make the difficult decision of putting CineVegas on hold.
“CineVegas has become such a well-respected film festival,” she said in a statement, “and rather than allow the economy to affect its level of quality we have opted to put the event on hold.”
That very same economic downturn had left Las Vegas’ gaming industry in a downward spiral. No thanks to online gaming sites that not only let people play pop culture-branded slot machines but live games from sic-bo to roulette from the comfort of their own homes, the city’s gaming industry has yet to recover.
With the gaming industry in the dumps, Las Vegas instead turned to tourism, building itself up as the convention capital of the world. Film festivals have grown to be among the most popular of the many conventions, expos, trade shows, and events the city plays host to each year.
It was at one such festival — the annual Las Vegas Film Festival, which is scheduled to return this June — that CineVegas finally resurfaced.
Its return was, however, decidedly more low-key — two documentaries, a feature film, and a short — and Greenspun says she doesn’t think it’ll ever be back to the way it was. She cited Hopper’s death in 2010 as one of the deciding factors that kept them from immediately trying to become the ten-day marathon it was in the past.
“Without Dennis Hopper, the heart of it for me is kind of gone a little bit,” she said. Even if its glory days are behind it, the mere fact that CineVegas still soldiers on is likely enough for cinephiles looking for something not quite ordinary.