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In-person film festival set for this weekend at Suncoast

Updated August 6, 2020 - 10:48 am

It’s surely the only place you can see a movie indoors in Las Vegas this weekend — and, possibly, for a while — aside from the comfort of your living room.

While COVID-19 has thrown film festivals around the world into disarray, with even some of the most prominent ones having been canceled, moved online or drastically scaled back, the Las Vegas Black Film Festival is soldiering on, in person, at the Suncoast.

“We’re only going to have 50 participants in each of our settings, safely spaced apart, wearing masks, everything that we’re required to do,” says the festival’s founder, who’s known professionally as Ms. Michelle.

The city’s indoor movie theaters have remained shuttered since mid-March and aren’t expected to reopen until later this month at the earliest as plans keep getting shuffled back. On Friday, though, the festival will present a daylong schedule of short films, documentaries and features inside the Suncoast’s Grand Ballroom, interrupted only by three breaks to clear the space for cleaning and sanitizing. The festival continues, in person, on Saturday.

Room police

“We have volunteers at the front doors that are going to be making sure that everyone is wearing a mask and sanitizing before they come in,” Ms. Michelle says. “Some of the volunteers, their only function is to police the room to make sure that everyone is wearing their mask at all times.”

Other aspects of the festival, now in its seventh year, will go on mostly as planned, with safety protocols in place. An actor bootcamp, actor showdown competition, filmmaker seminar and awards dinner — even an orange carpet premiere for Ms. Michelle’s movie, “Emerge” — are scheduled for the Suncoast, as well. (For more information, tickets and a complete schedule, see lasvegasblackfilmfestival.com.)

For the first time, as a concession to the pandemic, all the films will be available to screen online starting Thursday as part of a $40 pass at lasvegasblackfilmfestival.festivee.com.

Ms. Michelle says she’s confident in her team’s ability to pull off a safe, in-person festival, the first of its kind in Las Vegas since the arrival of COVID-19.

“We’ve got all the guidelines in place,” she says. “If you can go to Walmart and get your essentials and go home safe, you’re going to be even safer at the festival.”

Contact Christopher Lawrence at clawrence@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-4567. Follow @life_onthecouch on Twitter.

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