Red Rock Film Festival opens in Cedar City
Still from “I Built a Wall,” courtesy of the Red Rock Film Festival

The Red Rock Film Festival opens Nov. 11 featuring 160 new competition films from 29 countries. Presented like a retro night at the movies, the evening will include a mock newsreel, a cartoon, a couple of short subjects, a music video, and an experimental nature film before the feature film, “Floating Horses: The life of Casey Tibbs.” Opening night will begin at 5:30 p.m. Nov. 11 with dinner followed by the red carpet and welcome ceremony at 6:15 p.m., films at 7 p.m. and an afterparty at 9:30 p.m. Other activities such as the filmmaker hike are scheduled throughout the day. The night events will take place at the Ramada Conference Center at 1575 W 200 N in Cedar City.

“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 festival director Matt Marxteyn.

The all-night event will begin in the early evening with a catered dinner at the newly remodeled Ramada, followed by the red-carpet welcome ceremony, the shorts, and the feature, culminating in an opening-night party. The festival gives the option to add the dinner or party.

“Floating Horses: The life of Casey Tibbs” director Justin Koehler has worked on documentary projects that aired on The History Channel, The Discovery Channel, and The Weather Channel as well as historical films for the U.S. military and the National Park Service, including the 2014 PBS series “Civil War: The Untold Story.”

Most of the shorts all carry a western theme with one short — the “newsreel,” as the festival is marketing it — sticking out with its futuristic take on transportation. The short documentary is the world premiere of Emily Siegel and Frankie Turiano’s “Hyperloop One: A Nation of Dreamers.” The film depicts a top secret testing site in the Las Vegas desert that is home to 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?” asked Marxsteyn. “It’s like that but big enough to fit people, and it’s insane.”

The documentary short includes exclusive, never-before-seen footage of the Hyperloop system. The cartoon on opening night depicts a more traditional mode of transportation: a spaceship.

In a sci-fi western setting, Yoni Salmon’s “Niggun” takes a space archaeologist and an outcast rabbi on a journey to prove that all mankind did originate from the same tiny blue planet, and the rabbi searches for Jerusalem that is not just a mystical idea but an actual place.

Music composer and director Martin Gerigk’s “Energy” takes 12 cellos and nature sounds and sets them to rhythmic video sequences. Gerigk has two other shorts at the festival: “Structures of Nature” in the experimental program and “Rain” in the music video program.

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

Opening night also includes Ben Glassman’s student film “Silence,” which brings back the 4:3 aspect ratio of classic films. The short 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 welcome ceremony will feature glimpse of the several films playing at the festival, and attendees will be able to meet the filmmakers on the red carpet and see trailers from the films at the festival.

Veterans are invited to attend select screenings for free Nov. 12 from 1:30 to 9 p.m., which includes the 8:10 p.m. screening of Matthew Hall and Jennifer Salcido’s feature documentary “The Longest Road.” 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.

Admission for all opening night events is $30 in advance or $10 for the films and welcome ceremony. Tickets can be purchased at the door or by calling (435) 705-5555. More information is available at

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