On Saturday, the Dam Short Film Festival comes to a close in Boulder City with a Best of Fest program at 7:30 p.m. and an awards party at 9 p.m.
The festival showcased over 100 short films over the past week, including a rhythmic 8-minute drama called The Lift.
Utilizing gym sounds to create an almost musical experience, The Lift follows a silent protagonist as he aims to set a personal deadlift record. Director Manny Mahal describes the film as "a man facing his worst demons in the form of a back workout."
Mahal, joined by photography director Gary Chutai and sound designer Manvinder Dhak, made the journey from Vancouver, Canada to see what the Dam Short Film Festival had to offer.
Chutai said that he loved how the Boulder City festival allowed short film creators to take center stage.
"When you go to a bigger film festival, you're kind of an afterthought," Mahal added. "No one really seems to take you seriously."
But audiences at the Dam Short Film Festival took their films very seriously. Over 3,000 people attended last year's event and DSFF staff estimate that even more showed up this year.
"Nowadays, audiences love short-form content," said Dhak. He explained that many short filmmakers post their work online, and viewers typically access their content on mobile devices. A feature-length story is difficult to process on a tiny screen, but a 6-10 minute video is far more accessible.
Despite online popularity, however, the trio agreed that film festivals are still the best way to experience their work.
"It's a physical validation," said Mahal. "I prefer the face-to-face interaction over a mysterious online audience."
Chutai finds audiences at festivals to be far more constructive.
"It's mostly just trolling online," he said. "It's not enlightening. It detracts from your work, and it's very negative."
"There's a lot of disconnect between the filmmaker and the [online] audience," added Dhak. He believes that more ideas are born within filmmakers when they're able to collaborate with audiences in person.