Quick, what are the first things that come to mind when you think of Las Vegas? Gambling? Heat? Liberace? An ideal place to watch independent and foreign films? The folks behind the CineVegas Film Festival, which begins Wednesday, June 6, and runs through Saturday, June 16, have been anxious to build a reputation as a destination for independent film fans. But they feature big stars to attract the attention of the merely curious as well. Witness the opening night festivities planned around the stars and producer of Ocean's Thirteen (George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Don Cheadle, Ellen Barkin, Andy Garcia and Jerry Weintraub) and the charitable group International Rescue Committee for Not On Our Watch, not to mention honors planned for the likes of Sir Anthony Hopkins, Sir Ben Kingsley, Mike Newell and Charlize Theron.

The meat and potatoes of any festival, though, must be the films, and the "Jackpot Premieres" section holds some promise. All God's Children Can Dance is based on a short story by the supremely-talented Haruki Murakami, whose Tony Takitani was previously adapted to some acclaim by Jun Ichikawa; Scott Coffey (Ellie Parker) did the script this time, with first-timer Robert Logevall in the director's chair and the glorious Joan Chen leading the cast. Loren Cass is also from a debut director, Chris Fuller, who shot on location in St. Petersburg, Florida. His film follows three young people as they deal with the aftermath of the race riots that shook the city in 1996. Choose Connor is a story of politics and a teen's loss of innocence; the fact that it was made by 20-year-old actor/director Luke Eberl (AKA Lucas Elliott) may add authenticity to the telling, and the casting of Steven Weber as the politician ups expectations, at least in my mind -- Weber, who can be slick, oily and sincere, as a politician? I'm there. The festival also features a showcase of Mexican films and much more. I'm sure the organizers fervently hope that attendees ignore the advertising maxim, "What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas," and tell everyone about their CineVegas experience.