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Two film festivals are now in-progress in Las Vegas but they are very different kinds of festivals.

The Las Vegas Jewish Film Festival takes place throughout the month. The Medusa Underground Film Fest is through Sunday.

“It’s an underground film festival so it’s all different types of films. A lot of things that don’t quite fit into any category," Medusa Underground Film Festival organizer Heidi Moore told KNPR's State of Nevada.

She said the films don't fit any category and are more mashups of fantasy, horror and other genres.

Moore got the idea while judging other film festivals around the country. She noticed she would like a film but not feel like it fit a category. 

“Finally, I decided to create my own. So I can show these films,” she said.

While Moore likes to see films that may not fit an exact category, she's not entirely sure there is an audience for the films in Las Vegas, but she's hopeful.

“I’m not sure and we’re going to find out this weekend," she said, “Those are the type of films I make. I’m hoping to meet other people in the community here to work together with.”

Moore named her festival after the creature from Greek mythology that turns people to stone because of her hideousness. Moore said the story of how Medusa was turned from a beautiful woman into a grotesque monster is a very feminist one.

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“Our film festival is a women’s film festival and I felt it was very appropriate,” she said.

The Las Vegas Jewish Film Festival takes a very different direction. It features films by Jewish filmmakers and films about global Jewish culture, Israel and the Holocaust.

Organizer Josh Abbey has been heading up the film festival for 18 years. He said this year is special because the number 18 in Jewish culture is so important. It corresponds with the Hebrew word 'chai,' which means 'life.'

Abbey said this year's festival is a celebration of life. 

"Life adapts, regenerates and prevails, and so has the Jewish film festival,” he said.

Abbey said cinema is one of the most effectual ways to achieve his passion.

“For me, it’s a mission to bring Jewish life and culture to the broader population. And to integrate all of the wonderful history and celebration and tradition that Jewish culture represents,” he said.

This year's lineup will include a film from Abbey called "Balabusta," which is a Yiddish word for a good homemaker. The film is comprised of interviews Abbey did in 2005 with prominent Jewish women in Las Vegas. 

Another film featured in this year's festival is about the Holocaust. It's called "Who Will Write Our History" and it is about life inside the Warsaw Ghetto.

The presentation of the film will feature a talk by one of the last survivors from Oskar Schindler's list.

From Desert Companion: A Strange and Unusual Weekend: The Medusa Underground Film Festival

Ones To Watch: Heidi Moore, Cult Movie Director

Guests

Josh Abbey, creator, Las Vegas Jewish Film Festival; Heidi Moore, creator, Medusa Underground Film Fest

 

 

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