'Saint John' to open CineVegas fest

Film among nine to have world premieres at June event

Hue Rhodes' "Saint John of Las Vegas" will have its world premiere as the opening-night film at the 11th annual CineVegas Film Festival, which will be held June 10-15 at the Palms Casino Resort and Brenden Theatres in Las Vegas. The film stars Steve Buscemi as an ex-gambler-turned-fraud investigator who returns to Vegas to investigate an insurance claim.

"Saint John" also stars Sarah Silverman, Romany Malco, Peter Dinklage, Tim Blake Nelson, John Cho and Emmanuelle Chriqui.

Eight other films will have their world premieres at the fest, overseen by artistic director Trevor Groth.

Slated in the narrative competition, they are Rania Ajami's "Asylum Seekers," a story of six people trying to escape modern life; David Barker's "Daylight," about a pregnant woman caught in a life-or-death situation; Kyle Patrick Alvarez's "Easier With Practice," based on the true story of a writer's long-distance relationship with a mysterious woman; Jeff Mizushima's "Etienne!," the story of a man and his best friend, a dwarf hamster; Robert Saitzyk's Alaskan-set thriller "Godspeed"; Patrick Hoelck's modern love story "Mercy," written by and starring Scott Caan; Talmadge Cooley's "Patriotville," a tale of greed, lies and romantic complications; and Asiel Norton's "Redland," about a family struggling to survive during the Great Depression.

A cash prize of $10,000 will be awarded to the Grand Jury Award winner for feature film.

"The independent film industry is going through a transitional period right now as innovative filmmakers must find new ways to get movies made and seen, which is why CineVegas is thrilled to open our 2009 festival with 'Saint John of Las Vegas'," Groth said. "Not only is it a fantastic comedy with a phenomenal cast, including Steve Buscemi, who is pound-for-pound the world's greatest actor, but it was made by a forward-thinking company, IndieVest, whose revolutionary approach to film financing and distribution just might be laying the groundwork for future generations."

He added, "Our narrative competition this year represents the kind of aesthetic and thematic diversity that is alive and well in the American independent arena."

The fest also will offer a selection of world and U.S. premieres of documentaries, advance screenings of high-profile films, new independent films and a program of shorts and features from Nevada filmmakers. It will hold a new contest, which runs through May 4 -- film fans can enter to win all access passes to the fest by watching the Jackpot Premiere trailers online at www.cinevegas.com/jackpot.