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Couple smiles in valentine's day-themed race outfits
Bodies Race Company

Fill your next two weeks with sensational short films, heartbreaking literature, and love on the run

Filmmakers stand together on stage at the Dam Short Film Festival
Vivian Martin
Dam Short Film Festival

The Dam Short Film Festival

Feb. 16-20
During the two years that the Dam Short Film Festival pivoted to online, the thing that couldn’t be delivered virtually was the experience of spending time in Boulder City, the festival’s home. This year’s 19th edition returns as an in-person event, moving from longtime venue the Boulder Theatre to the Elaine K. Smith Building and bringing in the festival’s largest lineup of movies to date, with 153 short films in 31 programs. It’s now the longest-running film festival in Nevada, and two years of pent-up demand have only made it more popular.

With the Smith Building’s 250 seats, compared to the Boulder Theatre’s 400, more programs are likely to sell out, especially the popular comedy and Nevada blocks (there are two of each). DSFF board member and director of operations Ken Cioe confirms those are the top early sellers, making them likely to be scheduled for repeat showings on the festival’s final day.

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Reserving that entire fourth day for encores is new this year, a replication of the virtual festival’s more extensive availability of programs. The awards ceremony will also be live-streamed online, although there aren’t any other holdovers from the virtual edition so far.

Since its founding in 2003 by Lee and Anita Lanier, DSFF has always been a community-focused event, committed to local filmmakers. “I’ve watched it since year one,” Cioe says of the Nevada program, “and I’ve just watched the quality of the films coming out of Nevada just get better and better every year.”

This year’s selections highlights the strength and diversity of Nevada filmmaking, and the best local selections represent a range of genres and styles. Mark Maynard’s Piconland:The Quest for the Perfect Picon Punch is an informative documentary about a unique corner of Nevada history. Hisonni Mustafa’s Hermanita is a powerful drama about family legacy and domestic abuse. And Kari Barber’s Death and Magic Castles is an impressionistic animated take on the grieving process. All of them showcase the skill and passion of Nevada filmmakers, from veterans to newcomers.

Cioe cites the comedy, sci-fi and animation programs as other strengths of this year’s festival, but one of the great things about DSFF is the careful curation of every program; there’s always something worthwhile to see. While other festivals program shorts in a seemingly haphazard fashion, DSFF programmers show respect for the art form by grouping movies in thematically rewarding ways. Each program takes the viewer on a specific journey.

The journey to Boulder City is equally important, and Cioe is excited for filmmakers and staffers to finally return this year. “A lot of new people have joined the festival over the last couple of years, and because we were virtual, it’s their first time experiencing it live,” he says. Filmmakers, too, will once again get to mingle, network, and witness audience reactions to their movies firsthand. “Short films are a beautiful art form that I don’t think everybody gets the opportunity to appreciate,” Cioe says. No matter the venue or format, DSFF remains dedicated to providing audiences with that valuable opportunity. (Josh Bell) Times vary, $12.50 per program, $45-$150 passes, Elaine K. Smith Building, 700 Wyoming St., Boulder City,

Bad Mormon: A Memoir

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Feb. 10

What happens when you lose faith in the institution that was the catalyst of your greatest achievements: marriage, kids, travel … ? Heather Gay (a familiar face from The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City) answers this question in her new memoir as she recounts the dismantling and rebuilding of leaving the religion you grew up in. Ticket price includes a signed copy of Bad Mormon, along with a live reading of select excerpts from the author herself. (Anne Davis) 7-8p, $29, The Writer’s Block,

A couple holds hands while running in the Couple Shuffle Marathon
Bodies Race Company

Couple Shuffle

Feb. 11
Run your heart out, boo! Burn off Valentine’s Day chocolate training for and completing a 2-mile, 5K, or 10K course. Or tie the knot — of your racing shoes — on the Couple Shuffle, which allows participants to race both in person and virtually. Staying on-brand to the end, organizers offer lovebirds a special “sweetheart” sign-up discount. Everyone who registers gets a shirt, a custom bib, and (if you race the 5K or 10K) special finisher medals. (AD) 9a, $15-40, Sunset Park,

11th Anniversary Special Artifact Presentation

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Feb. 14 & 18
Candle-lit dinners, chocolates in heart-shaped boxes, roses … Al Capone’s St. Valentine’s Day Massacre? Yep. Those not in the mood for romance can mark the holiday with some horrifying history, courtesy of the Mob Museum, which presents an exhibit recalling the events of that bloody day. The exhibit itself is impressive in its scale, but it’s biggest selling point? That “for the first time since the Massacre 94 years ago, all known evidence from the gangland shooting will be together on view.” A fun, if slightly gory, way to spend the Feast of Saint Valentine. (AD) Tuesday 9a-9p, Saturday 9a-5p, free, The Mob Museum,

Dancers perform at the Springs Preserve Black History Month Festival
Springs Preserve

Black History Month Festival

Feb. 18
Commemorate Black History Month while also supporting a local cultural and environmental institution by checking out the Springs Preserve’s 14th annual Black History Month Festival. Centered around a “Black Resistance” theme, the event offers an opportunity for locals to embrace African-American culture, cuisine, crafts, and contributions to the history of Southern Nevada. (AD) 10a-4p, $4-9.95, Springs Preserve,