The Nashville Film Festival (NashFilm) takes place September 29 – October 5 both in-person and virtually. This year’s festival features more than 150 titles, including 38 feature-length films; more than 30 selections mark their U.S., North American and world premieres with the festival. The films selected to the festival join the previously announced opening night presentation of The Return of Tanya Tucker at Nashville’s Belcourt Theatre, as well as The Year Between, The Civil Dead, Butterfly in the Sky and Acidman.
Nashville Film Festival is proud to announce as Closing Night selection Sacha Jenkins’ Louis Armstrong’s Black & Blues, an intimate and revealing look at the world-changing musician, presented through a lens of archival footage and never-before-heard home recordings and personal conversations. The full festival program, including official film selections, live music performances and the line-up for the annual Creators Conference, is included below and available online at www.nashvillefilmfestival.org, where tickets are now on sale.
Following the gala Opening Night screening on September 29, additional notable festival presentations through October 5 include Seriously Red, the story of a realtor who begins a new career as a Dolly Parton impersonator, starring Rose Byrn and Bobby Canavale; Meet Me in the Bathroom, an immersive journey through the New York music scene of the early 2000s based on the book by Lizzie Goodman; Straighten Up and Fly Right, Kristen Abate and Steven Tanenbaum’s personal chronicle of a young New Yorker as her life unravels and she must make a choice to fall apart or get it together; Your Friend, Memphis, about a young man with cerebral palsy caught between the world’s expectations and his own ambitions; Graveyard Shift selection Piggy, following an overweight teen bullied by a clique of cool girls poolside while on vacation; and Sick of Myself, Kristoffer Borgli’s story of a couple in an unhealthy, competitive relationship that takes a vicious turn.
Featured in the festival’s additional programming is a three-film female-centric series, Speaking Out, Stepping Up: 3 Films of Empowered Women. The films selected for this series, all directed by women, highlight the ambition, perseverance and activism of women determined to change the world for the better. Films included are: My Name is Andrea, a hybrid documentary drama based on the life of writer Andrea Dworkin; Still Working 9 to 5, exploring forty years of inequality after the release of the hit film; and In the Bones, a cinematic journey through Mississippi via the ordinary lives of women and children.
Highlighting the festival’s deep ties to the community and region, this year’s program features 30 films made in or with connections to the state, including the world premieres of feature-length films Alta Valley, about a Mexican-Navajo mechanic and an outlaw cowgirl traveling across the desert to outrun criminals and confront a corrupt landowner; The Light We Share, a visual-album style film that highlights vivid and complex stories from everyday people; Showbusiness Is My Life, But I Can’t Prove It, following comedian Gary Mule Deer and his 60 year career making people laugh; and Jacir; the story of a young Syrian refugee on the streets of Memphis, Tennessee facing the hard truth in chasing the American dream.
“The creative connections between the art of film and music continue to impress and generate more immersive experiences for fans of both,” said Jason Padgitt, Executive Director of NashFilm. “We are truly honored to showcase an incredible array of films this year and provide a platform for people to directly connect and celebrate the accomplishments of our global creative culture.”
“The talent evident in this year’s lineup is incredibly exciting and I’m looking forward to our audience’s reactions,” said Lauren Ponto, Director of Programming. “My programming team and I have put together a highly curated and eclectic mix of films from over 30 countries with more than half of our official selections directed or produced by women. Our industry seems fiercely creative this year and I feel privileged that we get to play a part in showcasing the meticulous work of these amazing creators.”
Of the more than 150 films selected for this year’s Nashville Film Festival, more than 50 will screen in-person at iconic cultural venues throughout the city over the course of the week, while many will be available online through the festival’s virtual platform. Even more programming announcements are expected in the run-up to the 2022 Nashville Film Festival, late additions to the program as festival organizers put the finishing touches on the most compelling festival line-up to date.
The full Nashville Film Festival program to date follows; film and event details, images and trailers are available online here.
OPENING NIGHT PRESENTATION
The Return of Tanya Tucker (dir. Kathlyn Horan) – Decades after Tanya Tucker slipped from the spotlight, music star Brandi Carlile takes it upon herself to write an entire album for her hero based on Tanya’s extraordinary life, spurring the greatest comeback in country music history.
Nanny (dir. Nikyatu Jusu) – Immigrant nanny Aisha, piecing together a new life in New York City while caring for the child of an Upper East Side family, is forced to confront a concealed truth that threatens to shatter her precarious American Dream.
Aftersun (dir. Charlotte Wells) – Sophie reflects on the shared joy and private melancholy of a holiday she took with her father twenty years earlier. Memories real and imagined fill the gaps between as she tries to reconcile the father she knew with the man she didn’t.
CLOSING NIGHT PRESENTATION
Louis Armstrong’s Black & Blues (dir. Sacha Jenkins) – This definitive documentary honors Armstrong’s legacy as a founding father of jazz, one of the first internationally known and beloved stars, and a cultural ambassador of the United States.
NARRATIVE OFFICIAL SELECTIONS
Seriously Red (dir. Gracie Otto) – A realtor pursues a new career as a Dolly Parton impersonator.
Acidman (dir. Alexandre Lehmann) – An estranged father and daughter try to make first contact.
Sick of Myself (dir. Kristoffer Borgli) – Signe lives without ambition, but when her partner suddenly experiences massive success as an artist, she goes uncomfortably far to create a more interesting identity.
Mars One (dir. Gabriel Martins) – A Brazilian family copes with an uncertain future as a far-right conservative leader rises to power. Through this time of turbulent change, the family’s optimism and deep capacity for love guides them through.
The Cow Who Sang a Song into the Future (dir. Francisca Alegria) – When the long-deceased Magdalena (Mía Maestro, Frida, The Motorcycle Diaries) bubbles up to the surface of a polluted river gasping for air, her shocking return sends her family into turmoil while also offering an opportunity for healing in this poignant and stunning magical realist tale.
Beautiful Beings (dir. Guðmundur Arnar Guðmundsson) – Addi, a boy raised by a clairvoyant mother, decides to adopt a bullied misfit into his gang of outsiders.
The Integrity of Joseph Chambers (dir. Robert Machoian) – Insurance salesman and family man Joseph Chambers wants to acquire the skills to be able to take care of his family in case of an apocalypse. What starts as an experiment to prove himself as a capable father and husband turns into a nightmare as Joe finds himself faced with a terrible choice that he must make.
DOCUMENTARY OFFICIAL SELECTIONS
Butterfly in the Sky (dirs. Brett Whitcomb, Bradford Thomason) – The story behind Reading Rainbow.
Carol & Johnny (dir. Colin Barnicle) – Johnny and Carol robbed 56 banks together. After decades apart, they navigate their new lives outside prison walls. This story is about how some people change and some people don’t.
Your Friend, Memphis (dir. David Phillip Zucker) – Memphis, a millennial with cerebral palsy, journeys in search of work, love, and freedom. Caught between the world’s expectations and his own ambitions, YOUR FRIEND, MEMPHIS reveals the power of dreams to sustain us, and how to persist when they don’t come true.
Relative (dir. Tracey Arcabasso Smith) – Unraveling a complex tapestry of vulnerability, shame, and love, the filmmaker discovers a pervasive history of multigenerational sexual abuse in her Italian-American family. As decades of secrets, home-movies, and long-avoided conversations surface, a family bound by loyalty and tradition forges a new path forward.
Outta The Muck (dirs. Bhawin Suchak, Ira Mckinley) – Told through stories that transcend space and time, Outta The Muck presents a community, and a family, that resists despair with love, remaining fiercely self-determined, while forging its own unique narrative of Black achievement.
Calendar Girls (dirs. Maria Loohufvud, Love Martinsen) – Florida’s most dedicated dance team for women over 60, shaking up the outdated image of “the little old lady,” and calling for everyone to dance their hearts out, while they still can.
MUSIC DOCUMENTARY OFFICIAL SELECTIONS
Friday I’m In Love (dir. Marcus Pontello) – In Houston, Texas a historic nightclub thrives amidst the backdrop of cultural intolerance, serving as a gathering spot of acceptance and alternative music for forty 40-plus years.
Meet Me In The Bathroom (dirs. Will Lovelace, Dylan Southern) – An immersive journey through the New York music scene of the early 2000s. A new generation kick-started a musical rebirth for New York City that reverberated around the world.
Immediate Family (dir. Denny Tedesco) -“Immediate Family” is the true story of a group of close friends who became the studio band to the biggest stars of the 1970s and beyond. This documentary chronicles the next wave of studio players to follow in the footsteps of 60s session icons, The Wrecking Crew.
And Still I Sing (dir. Fazila Amiri) – Controversial Afghan pop star and activist Aryana Sayeed mentors young hopefuls as they prepare to appear on a hit TV singing competition show. As the show’s female contestants Zahra Elham and Sadiqa Madadgar are on the verge of their dreams becoming reality, the Taliban returns to power.
NEW DIRECTORS OFFICIAL SELECTIONS
Sonne (dir. Kurdwin Ayub) – In a moment of ordinary madness, three girlfriends decide to shoot a burqa music video.
Straighten Up and Fly Right (dirs. Kristen Abate, Steven Tanenbaum) – In a funk, Kristen, a physically disabled New York woman, walks dogs for a living but dreams of being a writer. When her life starts to unravel, she must make a choice to fall apart or straighten up.
The Year Between (dir. Alex Heller) – THE YEAR BETWEEN follows college sophomore Clemence Miller, who is diagnosed with bipolar disorder and forced to return home to her sleepy Illinois suburb after suffering a mental breakdown.
Hannah Ha Ha (dirs. Jordan Tetewsky, Joshua Pikovsky) – Hannah lives a content, hard-working life in the small town where she grew up. To her visiting older brother, she’s just wasting her time. As their Summer together winds down, Hannah gets what wasting time really means.
Robe Of Gems (dir. Natalia López) – In the countryside of Mexico, three women seek redemption when the case of a missing person leads them down a path of irrevocable tragedy and violence.
GRAVEYARD SHIFT OFFICIAL SELECTIONS
Piggy (dir. Carlota Pereda) – In a rural Spanish town, a teen girl’s weight makes her the target of incessant bullying. After fleeing them at the town pool, she stumbles upon her tormentors being kidnapped by a mysterious stranger.
Rounding (dir. Alex Thompson) – When a motivated resident doctor transfers to a rural hospital for a fresh start, his demons follow him as he becomes consumed with the case of a young asthma patient.
The Civil Dead (dir. Clay Tatum) – A misanthropic, struggling photographer just wants to watch TV and eat candy while his wife is out of town, but when a desperate old pal resurfaces, his plans are thwarted, with spooky consequences.
Follow Her (dir. Sylvia Caminer) – An aspiring actress responds to a mysterious classified ad and finds herself trapped in her new boss’ twisted revenge fantasy.
SPEAKING OUT, STEPPING UP: 3 FILMS OF EMPOWERED WOMEN
My Name is Andrea (dir. Pratibha Parmar) – MY NAME IS ANDREA is the story of controversial feminist writer and public intellectual Andrea Dworkin, who offered a revolutionary analysis of male supremacy with iconoclastic flair.
Still Working 9 to 5 (dirs. Camille Hardman, Gary Lane) – 42 years later 9 to 5 is a cautionary reminder, change is still needed.
In the Bones (dirs. Kelly Duane de la Vega, Zandashé Brown) – IN THE BONES is a cinematic journey through Mississippi that provides a poetic and sometimes painful portrait of American culture through the ordinary lives of women and children.
TENNESSEE FEATURE OFFICIAL SELECTIONS
Alta Valley (dir. Jesse Edwards) – To save her dying mother, Lupe, a Mexican-Navajo mechanic bands together with an outlaw cowgirl. Together they must travel across the desert, outrun criminals, and confront a corrupt landowner.
Big Old Goofy World: The Story of Oh Boy Records (dirs. Joshua Britt, Neilson Hubbard) – Oh Boy Records, founded by John Prine, Al Bunetta & Dan Einstein, took a mail order business and turned it into the everyman hero story of one artist believing in himself and his fans.
The Light We Share (dirs. Mattie Waters, Jules Downum) – Every person has a story that is vivid and complex – full of struggle and triumph. This visual album style film highlights stories from everyday people, inviting us to look at one another with more curiosity and empathy.
Old Friends: A Dogumentary (dir. Gorman Bechard) – The paw-inspiring tale of the Old Friends Senior Dog Sanctuary.
Showbusiness is My Life, But I Can’t Prove It (dir. GB Shannon) – Showbusiness is My Life follows comedian Gary Mule Deer and his 60 year career making people laugh.
I Can Feel You Walking (dir. Rachel Lambert) – Two broke and broken neighbors in a South Nashville duplex are tested when a crisis forces them to finally meet.
Jacir (dir. Waheed AlQawasmi) – A young Syrian refugee on the streets of Memphis, Tennessee faces the hard truth in chasing the American dream, while living in poverty, witnessing social injustice and his neighbor’s addiction to opioids.
Short Film Selections are available at NashvilleFilmFestival.org