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For documentary filmmaker, it's lights, camera, Maryland Parkway

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Pj Perez
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Las Vegas filmmaker Pj Perez puts the focus on the Maryland Parkway of the late 20th century in his new documentary “Parkway of Broken Dreams.”

Imagine a robust arts scene along Maryland Parkway, leveraging the energy of UNLV, with artists and small-business operators flocking to the venerable eastside thoroughfare.

A new documentary points out that such an environment isn’t an aspiration for the future, but a slice of the street’s recent past.

The 80-minute "Parkway of Broken Dreams" takes viewers back to the 1990s, when Maryland Parkway was a magnet for creatives and young people in an era prior to social media.

“This is before cell phones; even the Internet was mostly message boards,” said filmmaker Pj Perez, a former Las Vegan who started making the documentary three years ago. “You only connected with people and things by going somewhere.”

For Maryland Parkway that meant record stores and gathering places.

“There was a bar scene that was probably more popular with college students because this was also before the explosion of nightclubs on the Strip,” Perez told State of Nevada.

Perez said a series of events in the late 1990s led to the decline of the area, including the mass extinction of most record stores and a refocusing of cultural attention to downtown Las Vegas.

“Around that same time is when the Arts Factory opened downtown in what would become the Las Vegas Arts District,” Perez said, adding that even as Southern Nevada grew rapidly, its cultural institutions lagged. “You literally didn't have enough bodies to go around to both support endeavors on Maryland Parkway and to support endeavors in downtown.”

The documentary will be shown Saturday evening, part of the Silver State Film Festival. Tickets available here.

Pj Perez, filmmaker, "Parkway of Broken Dreams"

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Mike has been a producer for State of Nevada since 2019. He produces — and occasionally hosts — segments covering entertainment, gaming & tourism, sports, health, Nevada’s marijuana industry, and other areas of Nevada life.