Minh Tâm

Highlights From the Dam Short Film Festival

Quick stories with a lasting impact

For many Las Vegans, Boulder City can be an afterthought. Besides antique shops, tourist-swarmed Hoover Dam and World Famous Coffee Cup—the diner that Guy Fieri visited and dubbed Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives hall-of-fame material—what else is there to do in the small lakeside town?

Now in its thirteenth year, the annual Dam Short Film Festival took place last weekend at Boulder City’s historic Boulder Theatre. This year’s program included comedy, documentary, horror, international, sci-fi and underground films. The festival groups the featured short films according to themes, with programs lasting around 75 minutes.

After each program, audience members receive one poker chip in the lobby to cast their vote for the best film. After viewing the program “Parenthood in the Pacific Rim,” I voted for Minh Tâm, a French film about a single mother’s struggle to raise her autistic son. The ending left me with a feeling of satisfaction I did not expect from a 25-minute flick. In “Love and Romance,” U.K. film Dog Days stood out for its beautiful cinematography and artful storytelling about two strangers who live in the same part of London and, together, briefly escape the daily grind. These are just two of the festival’s many short narratives that sparked empathy in audiences and made them want to come back for more.


This year’s featured films introduced new culture to the Boulder City and the greater Las Vegas Valley community. A favorite of DSFF board member Tsvetelina Stefanova was the Friday night lineup, which included the Underground program. In Boulder City, which tends to be more conservative than its next-door neighbor, underground and PG-13 films pushed the envelope—one attendee walked out of Minh Tâm when it opened with a sex scene.

“A great thing about short films is that filmmakers can touch upon themes and stories that may be too avant garde to be made into a feature-length film,” Stefanova says. Judging from what I saw of the festival, the short films were a joy for festival-goers, and allowed the artists behind them to show a variety of perspectives. DSFF brought the community together to celebrate varied cultures and welcomed new influences into the dynamic film scene of Southern Nevada.