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Las Vegas Film Fest

[film] Thursday-Sunday, July 19-22

We’d normally reject the impulse to compare the Las Vegas Film Festival to CineVegas, the long-running cinephile event that expired in 2009. But its founders have cited the local film-fest forefather as an influence, and the current slate of programming isn’t too dissimilar — if not as notable — to that of CineVegas. Feature films, documentaries, foreign films, short features and local-interest selections all surface on LVFF’s slate.

A few titles stick out: MoniKa, a revenge thriller set in Las Vegas; Flat Daddy, a documentary about military families that make life-size cardboard photo likenesses of their loved ones serving in Iraq and Afghanistan; and Louder Than Love, a film about Detroit’s Grande Ballroom, which helped break bands like the MC5 and Iggy and the Stooges in the late 1960s.

One of the must-see program selections, though, is Marley, Kevin Macdonald’s documentary on reggae pioneer Bob Marley. Made with the help of the singer’s family and inner circle, this two-hour-plus film uses an astounding amount of archival video footage and photography to tell his whole story, from his struggles growing up as a biracial boy in the ghettos of Jamaica and slow rise to prominence as singer of The Wailers, to performing in international stadiums and his sequestering in remote Germany while under holistic treatment for the cancer that would kill him at age 36. No subject goes uncovered, and no hit of his goes unplayed. It’s as comprehensive as a music bio gets, at no expense to the smaller moments that allow us to get to know the charming, playful Marley a little better.

Marley already cycled through American theaters but skipped Vegas. Which is why we need LVFF to thrive longer than its inspiration did.

Screening/program times and pass prices vary. Las Vegas Hotel & Casino, 3000 Paradise Road, www.lvfilmfest.com.