We may not be New York or L.A. when it comes to film and television infrastructure, but as a moving-picture market, Nashville has a few fantastic things going for it. We of course have a popular, long-running network TV drama named after our city, and one of the finest independent film houses around (about to get bigger and better) in The Belcourt Theatre.
We also have an incredible annual film festival, inching toward its 50th year, and kicking off its 10-day 2016 run on April 14.
For its 47th edition, the Nashville Film Festival will be screening 271 films at Regal Green Hills Cinema (3815 Green Hills Village Dr.) — from documentaries to features, from Nashville filmmakers to artists from the East Coast, West Coast, Europe, Japan, New Zealand and on around the globe.
Nashville film buffs are spoiled with this annual event, with movies making their world and U.S. premieres here and setting the stage for broader successes — writer/producer/director and Academy Award winner Craig Brewer (Hustle and Flow) and director Joe Swanberg (Drinking Buddies) are among the folks who’ve springboarded, post-NaFF inclusion.
The only downside of a fest that has so many stories to offer: It’s hard to choose what to see.
We’re not going to attempt predicting the best of the fest (that’s best left to our city’s finest film writer, Jim Ridley, who we hope is mending quickly). But we were looking through the list, and felt drawn to some films that either feature the work of neighbors, or seem like they’d speak the language of many Nashvillians.
So here are our very Nashville Nashville Film Festival picks:
This is a return screening for 2011 film Broke*, which chronicles musician Will Gray as he captured a debut album with help from producer T Bone Burnett. But it’s not a straight documentary so much as a peek into the music industry’s present struggles with breaking new acts and sustaining careers. You’ll see lots of Nashville musicians on screen — Kelly Clarkson, Bobby Bare Jr., Ruby Amanfu and Mike Grimes included. After the NaFF screenings, a panel will convene to discuss the film’s core idea, and dig into whether anything’s changed since the film first hit screens.
The Dust Storm
A broken-hearted songwriter who trades nights on stage for days in a cubicle. The enchanting woman that haunts him, crossing his path again. Set in Nashville, this one’s probably got a few things in the script you or your friends can relate to.
This documentary focuses on a famous honky tonk, but it’s not one of ours — “the last of the true Texas dance halls,” The Broken Spoke is the focus. But more than a few names that are tightly tied to our town did their time on that stage, from the Georges Strait and Jones to Ernest Tubb. While studying the history of a beloved music stop, the film also looks at how businesses like this survive today, as it’s grown harder to sustain a small family business — especially in the music business.
Besides having the best name of any film in who knows how long, Mom Jovi has a pretty cool concept, too — especially if you came of age in the ‘80s. The gist: Members of the Facebook community The Jovi Sisters come to Nashville to come together IRL, and through their love of the pop-metal mainstays, form friendships and emotional bonds. Jovi 4eva, y’all.
Guesses are there are more sidemen and -women per capita in Nashville than any other city, so this is a fitting place to share this documentary, which digs deep into the lives of blues sidemen Pinetop Perkins, Willie “Big Eyes” Smith and Hubert Sumlin, and how they helped shape rock ’n’ roll, even if their names weren’t the ones up in lights.
What Would Beethoven Do?
Something that’s not usually front and center when national/international publications cover Nashville: We have a world-class Symphony Center (the Schermerhorn) and a world-class Nashville Symphony that calls it home (they have a total of 17 Grammy nominations and eight wins). Our food/country/rock scenes are cool, but that’s utterly fantastic. So it’s fitting, somewhat, to go to a theater here and watch a film that digs into why classical music remains relevant in 2016.
So those are our Nashville-oriented picks. If you catch any of them, let us know what you thought! (Info on the ins and outs of going to the festival, below.)
GOING TO THE NASHVILLE FILM FESTIVAL
The Nashville Film Festival runs April 14 to 23, 2016 at Regal Green Hills Cinema (3815 Green Hills Village Dr.). VIP Tent Laminates start at $250, and individual tickets are available for purchase online too.
Plan your fest: The Nashville Film Festival 2016 schedule
More info: NashvilleFilmFestival.org