40th Nashville Film Festival Announces Films in Documentary and Narrative Feature Competitions

40th Nashville Film Festival Announces Films in Documentary and Narrative Feature Competitions

World, U.S. and Southeastern U.S. Premieres Among Contenders for Major Juried Awards at 2009 Festival

To learn more about Nashville Film Festival 2009, Click Here.

NASHVILLE, Tennessee – March 27, 2009 – The 40th Nashville Film Festival (NaFF), which takes place April 16-23 at Regal Green Hills Cinemas, has announced the complete list of films in its documentary and narrative feature competitions. Documentaries will be divided into The Documentary Competition Presented by The Documentary Channel and Music Films/Music City. Both documentary competitions are co-programmed by Brian Owens, NaFF artistic director, and Kate Pearson, The Documentary Channel senior VP of programming and acquisitions.

“Who better to help program this competition than a person and an entity dedicated entirely to celebrating the craft of documentary film making,” said Owens of NaFF partnership with The Documentary Channel. “Kate and I have really programmed an exciting and diverse collection of films that will enlighten, entertain and push the possibilities of what a documentary can accomplish.”

The Documentary Competition Presented by The Documentary Channel jury is Dan Berger, Oscilloscope Labs; Ryan Harrington, IndiePix Studios; and Rachel Grady, co-director of Academy Award nominated film Jesus Camp. The Music Films/Music City jury is Kara Glennon, Programmer Indianapolis Int’l Film Festival; Mike Gramaglia, director, End of the Century: The Ramones; and Joe Pacheco, director, As Smart as They Are.

“As a former co-chairman of the Sinking Creek Film Festival, which has become the Nashville Film Festival, I’m thrilled that The Documentary Channel can expand its support of such an important institution in the documentary film world as this festival,” said Tom Neff, The Documentary Channel founder and CEO.  “Our mission at DOC is to be all things documentary, and so we’re proud to broaden our level of commitment and participation in the festival to include film selection, panels, judging, awards, online and network promotion and VIP hosting.  We hope these efforts help enhance the festival’s documentary division and also reflect the network’s multifaceted outreach to filmmakers.”

Adds Pearson:  “Taking our sponsorship to the next level has been an organic, mutually exciting experience for both the festival and DOC.  Brian Owens and Sallie Mayne have been enthusiastic colleagues and we are delighted to participate this year and hopefully in the years to come.  Participating in the documentary selection process has been a fantastic experience and the lineup of documentaries this year is outstanding. The current pool of talent is superb, and it makes the selection process difficult but very exciting.”

For those unable to attend the Festival, The Documentary Channel will offer a retrospective broadcast of four documentaries from previous Nashville Film Festivals on Friday, April 17 and Saturday, April 18.

Narrative features will vie for two awards, the NaFF/Regal Cinemas Dreammaker Award, which entitles the winning film to a special industry screening next fall in a Los Angeles County Regal Cinema Award, and the Lonely Seal Award, sponsored by Lonely Seal Releasing, which offers the winning film a one-year international representation deal.

Other award opportunities include the REEL Current Award, given to a film screened at NaFF that provides extraordinary insight into a contemporary global issue; Best Music in a Feature Film, sponsored by Naxos of America; Impact of Music Award, sponsored by Gibson, for the film that best exemplifies the importance of music in everyday lives; Tennessee Independent Spirit Award, presented to the best film directed by a Tennessee resident; The Rosetta Miller Perry Award, sponsored by the Tennessee Tribune and presented to the best black filmmaker; the NPT Human Spirit Award, presented by Nashville Public Television; audience award for best documentary, sponsored by The Documentary Channel; audience award for best narrative feature, sponsored by Curb Records; and various awards for short films.

The narrative feature jury is Elvis Mitchell, film critic, Stacey Parks, FilmSpecific.com, and Claudia Weill, director, Girlfriends.

Documentary Competition Presented by The Documentary Channel  Films

Ask Not

Johnny Symon, U.S.A, 73 minutes, Tennessee Premiere
Johnny Symon scheduled to attend
Presented in partnership with Middle TN Mental Health and Substance Abuse
Director Johnny Symons’ Ask Not is a rare and compelling exploration of the effects of the US military’s policy against openly gay service members. A provocative portrait of bravery amidst exclusion, the film reveals the personal stories of Americans willing to risk their lives for a country that criminalizes the act of coming out of the closet.

Big River Man
John Maringouin, U.S.A, 100 minutes, Southeastern U.S. Premiere
John Maringouin, Kevin Ragsdale, Rich Ragsdale scheduled to attend
Al Gore REEL Current Award Nominee
Michael Phelps set the world on fire this past summer with his speed and dominance at the Olympics, but there’s another swimmer who holds some might impressive records – and he drinks two bottles of wine day and swims the lengths of the world’s longest rivers. His name is Marin Strel, a Slovenian endurance swimmer who has conquered the Mississippi, the Danube, and the Yangtze – highlighting pollution in the world. Now in his fifties, he attempts his greatest feat yet – the Amazon.

Capturing Reality
Pepita Ferrari, Canada, 98 minutes, U.S. Premiere
Pepita Ferrari scheduled to attend
Director Pepita Ferrari interviews a number of prominent documentary filmmakers – Werner Herzog, Kim Longinotto, Albert Maysles, and Errol Morris to name a few. Ferrari’s goal was to find out where they get their inspiration and what their view is on their profession. The interviews are spliced with short excerpts that illustrate their arguments and beliefs.

Citizen Juling

Ing K, Thailand, 222 minutes, U.S. Premiere
The sprawling and humanistic Citizen Juling opens as the filmmakers ask celebrants of the 60th anniversary of King Bhumibol’s corination, “Why do you love the king?” Most respond with trepidation. A good Thai does not question the sacred ideological pillars of “Nation, Religion, King.” Thus begins a powerful exploration of the issues surrounding the Islamic insurgency in the south of Thailand, a nation whose democracy seems constantly at risk.

Joe Berlinger, U.S., 100 minutes – Southeastern U.S. Premiere
Joe Berlinger scheduled to attend
Al Gore REEL Current Award Nominee
Three years in the making, this cinéma-vérité feature from acclaimed filmmaker Joe Berlinger (Brother’s Keeper, Paradise Lost – screening in the Sinking Creek retrospective – and Metallica: Some Kind of Monster) is the epic story of one of the largest and most controversial legal cases on the planet. An inside look at the infamous $27 billion “Amazon Chernobyl” case, Crude is a real-life high stakes legal drama set against a backdrop of the environmental movement, global politics, celebrity activism, human rights advocacy, the media, multinational corporate power, and rapidly-disappearing indigenous cultures.

Empress Hotel
Irving Saraf and Allie Light, U.S., 95 minutes, World Premiere
Academy Award winners Irving Saraf, Allie Light, and Roberta Goodman scheduled to attend.
The Empress Hotel, a project of the San Francisco Department of Health, is home to a rarified clientele—sufferers of mental illness or addiction who have lived on the streets. Not every person can stay on meds or get clean, yet out of chaos and hopelessness, a community is formed. Empress Hotel tells the stories of ten residents, their interactions, celebrations, successes, and setbacks.

For the Love of Movies

Gerald Peary, U.S., 70 minutes, Tennessee Premiere
Gerald Peary scheduled to attend
For a hundred years, virtually the entire history of American movies, film critics have championed this medium they so unabashedly love. Their reviews illuminate the film-going experience, suggesting paths for readers to enter cinema more deeply, thoughtfully, appreciatively. For the Love of Movies is the first documentary to dramatize the rich, fascinating history of American film criticism.

Garbage Dreams
Mai Iskander, Egypt / U.S., 83 minutes, Southeastern U.S. Premiere
Mai Iskander scheduled to attend
Al Gore REEL Current Nominee
“If there weren’t any garbage collectors, Cairo wouldn’t be clean,” says a teenager named Adham at the opening of Garbage Dreams. He is one of 60,000 Zaballeen; entrepreneurial garbage collectors who collect and recycle over one-third of Cairo’s waste — more than 3,000 tons a day. But the Zaballeen find themselves at a crossroads when their city’s government hires foreign multinational disposal companies to collect Cairo’s garbage.

Garrison Keillor: The Man on the Radio in the Red Shoes
Peter Rosen, U.S., 84 minutes, Tennessee Premiere
Peter Rosen scheduled to attend
Presented in partnership with WPLN, Nashville Public Radio
Arguably America’s foremost humorist and commentator, Garrison Keillor, takes his skits and jokes, music and monologues across the country in his traveling radio show, spinning his stories into American gold. This free form, intimate look at the private man in the public spotlight goes behind the scenes of America’s most popular radio show, A Prairie Home Companion, and inside the imagination of the man who created it. .

House of Numbers
Brent Leung, Canada, U.S., UK  87 minutes, World Premiere
Brent Leung and some subjects scheduled to attend.
Nashville filmmaker Brent Leung was born in 1980, just as the HIV/AIDS epidemic became headline news. Over the past eight years, he has gained access to and insight from some of the field’s top researchers and most influential policy-makers. What his film reveals is we understand a lot less about the epidemic than we are led to believe – conventional wisdom be damned.

Invisible Girlfriend

David Redmon and Ashley Sabin, U.S., 72 minutes, Southeastern U.S. Premiere
David Redmon and Ashley Sabin scheduled to attend.
Charles – whom we met in Redmon & Sabin’s previous film Kamp Katrina – is madly in love with his girlfriend, Joan of Arc. So, he hops on his bike and leaves Monroe, LA for New Orleans, hoping to find her embodiment behind a Mardi Gras bar. Along the way he encounters a farmer, a witch, and a man who honors the dead.

Living in Emergency:  Stories from Doctors without Borders

Mark N. Hopkins, Italy, 93 minutes, Southeastern U.S. Premiere
Presented in partnership with Southern Hills Medical Center
In the war-zones of Liberia and Congo, four volunteers (including Nashville resident, Dr. TC Krueger) with Doctors Without Borders struggle to provide emergency medical care under extreme conditions. With different levels of experience, each volunteer must find his own way to face the challenges, the tough choices, and the limits of their idealism.

The Other Side of the Lens
Reed Cowan, U.S. / Kenya, 101 minutes, World Premiere
Reed Cowan scheduled to attend
On the evening of April 23, 2006, Emmy Award winning TV anchor and news reporter Reed Cowan was on call for his Salt Lake City employer. He was paged to the scene of the accidental hanging death of a child. Arriving on the scene, Cowan discovered that every parent’s nightmare – the loss of a child – was his own. The reporter became the news. The Other Side of the Lens is Reed Cowan’s first film and it follows Cowan and his journey of self-examination, liberation, and activism that would assist him through his grief.

Pressure Cooker
Mark Becker and Jennifer Grausman, U.S.A, 2008, 99 minutes, Tennessee Premiere
Basketball had Hoop Dreams, spelling bees had Spellbound. Now competitive cooking has Pressure Cooker. Wilma Stephenson is the dynamic force behind the Careers Through Culinary Arts Program at Philadelphia’s Frankford High School. On the first day of class Stephenson tell her students, “Everything you’ve heard about me is true, only it’s 500 times worse.” She’s tough, but she knows that if she isn’t, her students are likely to repeat the mistakes of their parents – leaving them impoverished and trapped in the inner-city. Three of those students become the focus of Mark Becker and Jennifer Grausman’s camera. With Mrs. Stephenson’s leadership, they will try to win scholarships to some of the most prestigious cooking academies in the US – and they will develop a new recipe for the future.

Prodigal Sons
Kimberly Reed, U.S., 86 minutes, Tennessee Premiere
Kimberly Reed scheduled to attend
Returning home to a Helena, Montana for her 20-year high school reunion, debut filmmaker Kimberly Reed hopes to rebuild her relationship with her adopted brother – and to capture the experience on camera. Instead of a simple tale of estrangement and reconciliation, Prodigal Sons offers deep questions of identity – gender identity, genetic identity, and the how traumatic brain injury can completely alter a loved one.

Shakespeare and Victor Hugo’s Intimacies
Yulene Olaizola, Mexico, 83 minutes, Southeastern U.S. Premiere
At the intersection of Shakespeare and Victor Hugo Streets in Mexico City sits Rosa Elena Carbajal’s lodging house. Her granddaughter, Yulene Olaizola takes her camera to delve into a mystery that occurred in her grandmother’s residence, a mystery involveing a former tenant deeply ashamed of his homosexuality and suffering schizophrenia. During the period that he lived in the house (until his death in 1993) 13 women fell victim to a mysterious serial killer in Mexico City.

Trust Us, This is All Made Up
Alex Karpovsky, U.S., 83 minutes, Southeastern U.S. Premiere
Some foolishly have the belief that “improvising” is simply “making things up”. To a degree, that’s true. To be able to do that and have the the New York Times describe you as, “…masters of long form improv” means you’re going a little further than simply making a few off the cuff jokes. TJ Jagodowski and David Pasquesi have become living legends in their field.

An Unlikely Weapon
Susan Morgan Cooper, U.S., 85 minutes, Tennessee Premiere
Susan Morgan Cooper and Kyle Eastwood scheduled to attend
Eddie Adams photographed 13 wars, six American Presidents, and every major film star of the last 50 years. History would be changed through his lens. But the person Eddie found hardest to impress was himself. In 1968, in 1/500th of a second Eddie Adams photographed a Saigon police chief, General Nygoc Loan, shooting a Vietcong guerilla point black. Some say that photograph ended the Vietnam War. The photo brought Eddie fame and a Pulitzer, but he was haunted by the man he had vilified. Featuring narration by Kiefer Sutherland and a score by Kyle Eastwood and Michael Stevens (Letters from Iwo Jima).

Upstream Battle
Ben Kempas, Germany, 98 minutes, Southeastern U.S. Premiere
Director Ben Kempas scheduled to attend
Al Gore REEL Current Award nominee
A coalition of Native Americans battle to force the removal of dams owned by billionaire Warren Buffett that have devastated the salmon population on California’s Klamath River.

William Shatner’s Gonzo Ballet

Patrick Buckley and Kevin Layne, U.S., 51 minutes, World Premiere
William Shatner, Ben Folds, Brad Paisley and Margo Sappington scheduled to attend
Presented in partnership with the Nashville Ballet
High art meets pop culture as the music of William Shatner (‘Star Trek,’ ‘Boston Legal’) and Ben Folds (Ben Folds Five), from their critically-acclaimed album, ‘Has Been,’ is transformed into ‘Common People,’ a ballet from award winning choreographer Margo Sappington (Oh! Caluctta!).

Music Films/Music City Films

American Harmony
Aengus James, U.S.A., 2009, 86 minutes, Tennessee Premiere
Barbershop Quartet to perform live
Presented in partnership with the Barbershop Harmony Society
American Harmony journeys deep into the obsessive, zany, heartfelt world of competitive barbershop singing, where passion is equaled only by talent, and the reward is not fame or fortune, but simply victory.

America’s Lost Band: The Remains
Michael Stich, U.S.A., 2008, 65 minutes, Tennessee Premiere
The Remains scheduled to attend
The Remains appeared on Ed Sullivan, opened for the Beatles, and then broke up just on the brink of fame. America’s Lost Band is a documentary of The Remains’ return to Los Angeles for the first time in 40 years – since opening for the Beatles – a film that follows a group of 60-year-old musicians back together pursuing their passion.

Any Day Now
Jeff Wyatt Wilson, U.S.A., 2009, 92 minutes, World Premiere
Ten out of TN musicians scheduled to attend
In the summer of 2008, during harsh economic times, ten young singer/songwriters from Tennessee (Ten out of Tenn or TOT) set out on a journey to reinvent themselves on Willie Nelson’s old 1984 tour bus performing a rebirth of music as a community of friends supporting each other during a competitive, intimidating era.

Ashes of American Flags:  The Wilco Tour Film
Brendan Canty and Christoph Green, U.S.A., 2009, 88 minutes, Tennessee Premiere
The great band Wilco have 8 HD cameras and 42 channels of Pro Tools follow them around the south while they play small historic venues to rabid crowds, while allowing us to view the south through these veteran travelers eyes.

Gogol Bordello: Non-Stop
Margarita Jimeno, U.S.A., 2008, 90 minutes, Tennessee Premeire
More than just a concert film, Gogol Bordello Non-Stop explores the roots of the band (indeed, they come from five different nations) and how global identity and politics can shape music.

The Heart is a Drum Machine
Christopher Pomerenke, U.S.A., 2009, 90 minutes, Southeastern U.S. Premiere
Celebrities as diverse as the Flaming Lips, the Dandy Warhols, Guns N’ Roses, George Clinton, Elijah Wood, Juliette Lewis, and Tool offer their answers to the seemingly simple but ultimately complex question: What is music? When you unleash more than 100 people to answer the question, you begin to capture the diversity that is music – and humanity.

Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison
Bestor Cram, U.S.A., 2008, 87 minutes, Southeastern Theatrical Premiere
(Note: not in competition)
Bestor Cram and John Carter Cash scheduled to attend
On 13 January 1968, Johnny Cash recorded his legendary live album at Folsom State Prison in California. 40 years later, the album hasn’t lost a bit of its power. His children, former colleagues, and even some ex-prisoners and guards look back. Archive footage of life in the prison back then is interspersed with footage of how it is now, as well as still photography of the performance.

RiP:  A Remix Manifesto
Brett Gaylor, Canada, 2008, 85 minutes, Tennessee Premiere
Web activist and filmmaker Brett Gaylor explores issues of copyright in the information age, mashing up the media landscape of the 20th century and shattering the wall between users and producers. The film’s central protagonist is Girl Talk, a mash-up musician topping the charts with his sample-based songs. But is Girl Talk a paragon of people power or the Pied Piper of piracy?

Rock Prophecies
John Chester, U.S.A, 2009, 75 Minutes, Southeastern Premiere
Moments before his death, Stevie Ray Vaughn talked to Robert M. Knight, legendary rock photographer, one last time. “If anything ever happens to me,” he said, “you’ll know me when you hear me.” In the wake of tragedy, Knight would remember those haunting words, as they fueled his unyielding passion to find the next great guitarist.

Trimpin:  The Sound of Invention
Peter Esmonde, U.S.A., 2009, 79 minutes, Southeastern U.S. Premiere
The music of Trimpin has to be seen to be believed – and that’s not a syntactical error because Trimpin doesn’t just make music. He composes the music, plays the music, and creates the instruments upon which the music is played. Starting out in his workshop – a cross between Frankenstein’s lab and Santa’s Workshop – we are introduced to this (mad?) genius as he turns wooden clogs, toy pianos, and discarded guitars into brand new works of musical art.

Trying to Get Good:  The Jazz Odyssey of Jack Sheldon

Penny Peyser and Doug McIntyre, U.S.A., 2008, 90 minutes, Tennessee Premiere
You may remember Jack Sheldon as Merv Griffin’s trumpet-wielding sidekick, or the indelible voice of School House Rock (“I’m just a bill. Yes I’m only a bill”), but musicians know him as a jazz giant. Featuring on-camera interviews with Clint Eastwood, Billy Crystal, Merv Griffin, Chris Botti, and Johnny Mandel among others, along with historic footage with Benny Goodman, Stan Kenton and other legendsm Penny Peyser and Doug McIntyre’s award-winning film examines the eternally dissatisfied soul of a musical perfectionist and his quest to just ‘figure things out’ – both musically and personally.

Youssou Ndour:  I Bring What I Love

Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi, Senegal / USA, 2008, 102 minutes, Southeastern US Premiere
Arguably the most successful African pop artist in history, Youssou Ndour’s distinctive voice became known internationally through a string of popular tracks, including collaborations with Peter Gabriel and Neneh Cherry. Not resting on fame, Ndour used his popularity to shed light on issues important to him. The film follows him as he releases Egypt – a call to his fellow Muslims for peace in a post-9/11 world.

About The Documentary Channel®:

The Documentary Channel (DOC) is the USA’s first 24-hour television network exclusively devoted to documentary films and the independent documentary filmmaker, providing viewers with round-the-clock opportunities to see fascinating, eclectic and award-winning documentary films of all lengths and genres.  Headquartered in Nashville, Tenn., with offices in New York and Los Angeles, DOC was founded by Oscar®-nominated and Emmy®-winning documentary filmmaker Tom Neff (CEO) in January 2006.  DOC now reaches more than 21 million homes nationwide via DISH Network (Channel 197) and several broadcast stations in major television markets, including NYC TV (Channel 25) throughout the greater New York metropolitan area.  DOC also provides content to online distribution outlets through www.youtube.com/documentarychannel and www.sling.com/network/189/The-Documentary-Channel. For more information on DOC, visit www.documentarychannel.com.

To learn more about Nashville Film Festival 2009, Click Here.

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