SCREEN GRAB: "Flight Fright," a spoof on a famous "Twilight Zone" episode, is among the award winners at the Reno Comedy Film Festival March 27 at West Wind El Rancho 4 Drive-In Theater, 555 El Rancho Blvd, Sparks..

The Reno News & Review invites readers to two, drive-in, film festivals Saturday, March 27, for free.

The inaugural Nevada Short Film Festival in Reno and the Reno Comedy Film Festival feature short films that are less than 30 minutes in length, with the average running time between six and 10 minutes. The comedy and drama festivals are presented back-to-back. Both festivals run for two hours.

The Film Festival Circuit LLC, the creator of 10 ongoing film festival events in the U.S. is presenting the events at the West Wind El Rancho 4 Drive-In Theater, 555 El Rancho Blvd, Sparks. Most of the tickets have already been sold at $9 per person, per festival. The remaining tickets, while they last, are offered free to RN&R readers. Step-by-step details about how to get them online (and to print out or save within a phone app) are below.

How to get your free tickets to both festivals

For the Reno Comedy Film Festival, go to this link at: Click on the green TICKETS button. Look in the upper left for the small blue “enter promo code” link and click on it. Enter the term nevadaresident (one word, all lower case letters) and enter the number of people in your vehicle using the drop-down menu on the blue box on the right side of the page. Then hit the APPLY button. The total cost on the right should change to 0. Then hit the CHECKOUT button and on the next screen fill out the form with your name and email. Then click on the first box in the list on that page (it reads: “…attending for fun”) and hit the “REGISTER” button to finish. You’ll soon get an email with a PDF of your tickets. Make sure you print out the individual tickets with the scan codes to be admitted.The West Winds gate opens for the Comedy Film Festival at 6:30 p.m. March 27, with the comedy shorts starting at 7 p.m.. The Nevada Short Film Festival runs from 9 to 11 p.m. To attend both, you’ll need to repeat the process for tickets to that festival at this other eventbrite link.

To see trailers for winners of the Reno Comedy Film Festival and the Nevada Short Film Festival, click on the preceding links.

Winners of many awards

 “It’s an all genre event,” said Mikel Fair, festival director, who noted that the U.S. usually has thousands of in-person film festivals every year. But the pandemic knocked that number down to about 20. “Most film festivals have moved to a virtual format or have deferred their screenings indefinitely due to pandemic restrictions,” he said.

The Reno area, which has one of the nation’s 300 or so remaining drive-in theaters, joins Film Festival Circuit’s other locations in Oregon; Vermont; Houston and Austin, Texas, to host one of the handful of in-person film fests this year.

Many of the comedy and drama shorts are multiple award-winners. If one isn’t your cup of tea, wait a few minutes, and another offering will light up the big screen, Fine said. The movies may be brief, but the writing, acting and production values are top-shelf, he said.

All genres offered

“These aren’t YouTube videos,” Fair said. “These are done by people who are aspiring filmmakers or who want to do episodic content. They are developing series and pilots and things like that, with professional acting, lighting and sound.”

The genres represented in Nevada Short Film Festival in Reno include drama, action, documentaries, science fiction, classic movie spoofs, dark comedy, micro films and mini rom-coms. That collection includes the work of filmmakers from Nevada, California (several from the Bay Area), many other states, and all over the world, including Sweden, Japan, Australia, the United Kingdom, Ireland and Vietnam.

“The Reno Comedy Festival is a bit more domestic in focus,” he said. “It comes down to what the judges pick, what entertains them.

COVID-19 precautions followed

“They are the same films that go to the big-name festivals in Austin, Cannes, Toronto and Sundance,” he said. “There’s an entire film festival circuit and they get something like 18,000 submissions. We get hundreds and do a kind of double-blind rating system, get down to official selections and choose award winners. We typically do the top 25%.”

The West Wind Drive-in has a capacity of 100 vehicles. The audio from the films is broadcast via FM Radio onsite and can be received in each individual vehicle. The outdoor event follows all social-distancing protocols and requirements for face coverings.

“It’s a unique opportunity to screen about four hours of independent films in one evening,” Fine said. “Most importantly, independent film and television producers are able to share their films with friends, family and the film loving audience at a live screening in Reno.”

SCREEN GRAB: Azusena Suray, left, is the winner of the Best Actress Award at the Nevada Short Film Festival. She stars in “Look Out,” a short film by Steve Delgato of Nevada.

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