Doc Day Afternoon

Okay, I subconsciously made today’s visit to the Nashville Film Festival all about documentaries. First up was the delightful doc Hollywood to Dollywood about two gay twin brothers who travel across country with one goal: hand deliver the screenplay they wrote for their idol Dolly Parton to the icon herself. This film initially charmed me with its trailer and the film itself was quite amazing. Throughout the film you realize the brothers are not only on a journey to Tennessee but also on their own personal journey of coming out to their family. During the post-film Q&A one of the directors revealed that the doc will be available by DVD soon (hooray!). To learn more about this film visit www.HollywoodToDollywood.com.

In a few moments I will be viewing Affair of the Heart, a doc about 80’s heartthrob Rick Springfield (yep- that Rick Springfield. I’m sure I’ll have Jessie’s Girl in my head by the end of the day. Later tonight the documentary Hip Hop Maestro will screen. I pre-screened it for the festival and am so glad it was added to the program! This film is about a musician who brilliantly redefines the hip hop genre. Loved this film and really encourage everyone to see it.

Okay, got to go. Rick Springfield is waiting for me.

See you at the box office!

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Day 2- Nashville Film Festival

Whew! Just got home from watching three films during the 2nd day of the Nashville Film Festival. One doc and two dramas- a great way to kick off the weekend!

First up was Brooklyn Castle, a documentary about the nationally-ranked junior high chess team from I.S. 318 in Brooklyn. Sometimes you are fortunate enough to experience a film that will make you stand up and cheer. Brooklyn Castle was that movie for me. From the first frame you become involved with these kids and cheer them on through every practice and game. This film primarily is about the students on the chess team, but the film also highlights the struggles that all public schools face during budget cuts. In the end this is an amazing doc and one that everyone should see!

The second film was Ausente (Absent), a film about the relationship between a teen, Martin,  and his swim coach, Sebastian. But with a twist- this time the teen is pursuing the professor, even putting him in a compromising position in the pursuit. Martin does everything he can to invade Sebastian’s privacy, successfully lying his way into Sebastian’s home for an evening. What unfolds is an emotinal ride for Sebastian and the audience as well as you don’t know how far Martin will go in his pursuit.

My final film for the day was Sironia, directed by Brandon Dickerson and starring Wes Cunnningham as a talented musician with a broken career who feels resentment over not achieving his dreams. A great, yet somewhat predictable film with an amazing ensemble cast, great cinematography, and of course, a terrific soundtrack.

Well (yawn!) it is time to call it a day. But before I turn in maybe I can play a game of chess on my iPhone and listen to some Wes Cunningham music.

See you at the box office!

Here’s the short version

Today kicked off the 43rd annual Nashville film Festival and it was definitely a lot of fun! The first screening was a collection of shorts called Shorts for the Whole Family and it featured several really good shorts. My two favorite ones included The Gruffalo’s Kid, which is based on the children’s book and shows the adventure of the lead character searching for The Big Bad Mouse, and Miss Devine, about two cousins reminiscing about a childhood Sunday School teacher.

Want to see these shorts for free? This collection of shorts will be presented during a free screening Saturday morning (April 21) at 10:15. Just head over to the festival website and reserve your passes.

And so it begins…

You know that feeling you had as a kid the day before Christmas? Well that’s how I feel. You see, tomorrow is the kick off of the 43rd annual Nashville Film Festival. Nashville is home to the 3rd oldest film festival in the country and it draws over 25,000 film fest fans each year. And I am one of them. I’ve volunteered at the festival for 5 years- 3 years as a screener- and each year I am in awe of the amazing lineup. And this year is no different. Amazing documentaries, great shorts, entertaining narratives. This festival is going to be a blast!

So this  year, like every year, I am making my wish list of films to see. And like a child making her list for Santa, I have more films on my list than I can possible see. Why can’t I be in two places- or rather theaters- at the same time? Until I can manipulate the laws of time and physics (I’m working on it) I must choose. The comedy or the drama. The documentary or the foreign film. Choices, choices.

Okay, so here is my wish list of films to see this year.

Brooklyn Castle

Every year the festival has a documentary that has a long lasting effect, what I often call a “cinematic hangover”. You know, that film that sticks with you long after the credits roll. Previous hangovers include Pressure Cooker and Two Towns of Jasper. I think Brooklyn Castle will be added to that list. This doc is about a public school that has the best junior high school chess program in the country despite its high poverty rate. Chess mate!

Sironia

Screenshot

Living in Music City it’s hard not to know someone who has had dreams of being a successful musician or songwriter. This film, based on the music of Wes Cunningham, stars Cunningham as a musician who had his time in the spotlight and now has resentment over his lost dreams. He and his wife move to Sironia, Texas in hopes of a simpler life. But in true movie fashion, I’m sure he’ll find himself in the process.

Hollywood to Dollywood

Have you ever watched a trailer that made you smile throughout the whole darn thing? That is the effect this charming doc had on me. This documentary follows two gay twin brothers has they travel from LA to Pigeon Forge with the plan to deliver a screenplay to Dolly Parton herself. If the trailer is any indicator, my cheeks will hurt from grinning by the time this film is through. Besides- their RV is named Jolene. Enough said…

California Solo

A perfect companion to the film Sironia, this film stars Robert Carlyle as a former Brit pop star who works on a farm and faces deportation after getting caught driving drunk. In an effort to stay in the US, he contacts his estranged ex-wife and daughter, forcing him to face his demons. Okay, shut up, you had me at Robert Carlyle.

Headshot

The hitman genre has been done so any times, but it’s nice when a director can turn the concept on its head… literally. In this film a hitman is shot in the head. When he wakes from his coma, he literally sees things upside down. Of course he seeks redemption- it is a hitman film after all. But the trailer for this one makes it look like some bad-ass neo-noir film. Sign. Me. Up.

The Perfect Family

Kathleen Turner stars as a woman who is nominated for Catholic Woman of the Year. She sets out to prove that her less than perfect family is, in fact, the perfect family. You can guess how that turns out. Bless her heart. Check out the trailer here.

Girl Model

Fashionistas- take note. This documentary shows an ugly side of the fashion world. Focusing on the process of model scouting between Russia, Japan, and the US, this doc focuses on a 13-year old Russian girl who is sent to Tokyo to begin a modeling career. This film shows a raw viewpoint of the modeling industry. No one said the truth had to be pretty.

There are tons more I plan to see. For opening day I will likely view two collections of short films: Shorts for the Whole Family and TN Film Night Narrative Shorts. I plan to give updates each day with my own film reviews, what people are saying at the festival, and hopefully some pictures.

See you at the box office!