CineVegas cancels 2010 edition

Economic climate cited as reason for hiatus

NEW YORK -- What happens in Vegas won't happen in Vegas.

CineVegas, the annual June bacchanal of quirky indies and crowd-pleasing comedies amid the slot machines, has announced it will go on hiatus in 2010, with its future beyond that remaining murky.

"Given the current economic climate and the pressures it has created, we made the difficult decision to put CineVegas on hiatus for the coming year, fest president Robin Greenspun said Friday. "CineVegas has become such a well-respected film festival, and rather than allow the economy to affect its level of quality we have opted to put the event on hold."

A rep added that as a privately run festival and not a nonprofit, the festival depended heavily on sponsorship, and those sponsors are simply not there as they once were. The Palms, Stella Artois, Southwest Airlines and Netflix were among the fest's sponsors this past year.

Reps weren't ruling out a return in 2011, but given the sponsorship difficulties, no one was committing to it. Artistic director Trevor Groth did say that "We are very sad to be announcing this hiatus, but it is our hope to keep the CineVegas brand alive and relaunch the festival once the economy recovers."

The move is a blow to a fest that had been on a definite upward trajectory. CineVegas has in recent years become a marketing launch for at least one or two big studio release ("Ocean's 13" premiered there) as well as the indie find (this year, Kyle Patrick Alvarez's lonely-man drama "Easier With Practice" generated strong buzz).

Sundance's Groth had run programming for the festival, curating it with a keen eye that mixed the commercial, the Las Vegas-themed and the unusual.

The June festival hosted its 11th edition this year, attracting a large mix of filmmakers, distribs and industry insiders as well as general audiences.

CineVegas is the latest casualty of a climate that has taken its toll on a slew of domestic festivals, as both national and local brands slash fest sponsorships from their budgets. Fests from Fort Lauderdale to Tribeca have scaled back their number of days and screenings, while some events, like the Jackson Hole Film Festival, have shut down completely.

The largest North American fests, such as Toronto and Sundance, have managed to mostly avoid the downturn thanks to longer-term sponsorship deals and deeper cash reserves.

But even those who might seem to be immune have felt the impact. The New York Film Festival, a product of the well-capitalized and deep-pocketed patrons of the Film Society of Lincoln Center, has felt a pinch of its own. The fest, which begins tonight, has scuttled its annual opening party at the tony Tavern on the Green in favor of a scaled-down event in its own Alice Tully Hall.