Cinevegas 2008 Opening Night

Cinevegas ice sculpture, originally uploaded by stomptokyo.

Let's open with a cornball line.

They say that what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. For the sake of film festivals everywhere, I hope that's not true -- there's plenty to be learned from this smooth operation by fests both large and small. CVHQ, for example: the hub of activity where registration and happy hour is combined to form one big room that is a mixture of business and pleasure. In this corner, the info desk. In that corner, press credentials. Over there, the bar. And hey! Cinevegas merch right over here to be perused while live music plays at a volume moderate enough to allow natural conversation. Compared to the hograssle that is registration at many other fests, it's a delight.

The opening night film was "The Rocker," a musical crowd-pleaser starring Rainn Wilson (a personal hero of mine, and I'm not ashamed to say I gushed as I shook the hand of the man who plays Dwight Schrute and so many other great characters). "Rocker" is one of a line of smart-playing-dumb comedies that have come out recently. The cast of SNL gets in its licks (including Fred Armisen and particularly Jason Sudekis), but in a good way. Not an earth-shattering film by any means but consistently funny and highly appropriate for Wilson's first starring turn.

The after party at Moon, the Palms club with a moon roof that opens from time to time, proved that Cinevegas has the clout to take advantage of the choice venues that the city has to offer. A lesser organization might have to make do with the trashier side of Vegas, but this group has their act together. This is borne out in the fact that a large portion of the staff apparently went bowling the night before the festival began -- showing a confidence and a level of organization that I haven't seen at any other fest. The staff members I've met are all friendly and unfrazzled, but it's early yet.

If the rest of Cinevegas is this good, I'm really, really looking forward to the next five days.