2012 Nashville Film Festival In Review

The Nashville Film Festival gets better every year.  It’s always a difficult task deciding which films to see and which to pass on because you just never know what’s going to hit big.  Granted, not every film is a 500 Days of Summer, the opener from 2009.  And thankfully, not every film is a The Deal, the utter catastrophe that opened the festival in 2008.  But every year there are several films at the Nashville Film Festival that end up being really good films and earning accolades throughout the rest of the year.  Here are a few of the better films that I was able to see at NaFF2012.

Qwerty is a pleasant and quirky little film about a girl and a guy who are both struggling through life and are only able to get through it with the help of each other.  It’s a fun movie with that far exceeds its meager and humble production value and the fact that it was shot in the beautiful city ofChicago only adds to its charm.

For the last few years, the best films have been the documentaries.  2011’s Buck and If A Tree Falls went on to accumulate a laundry list of awards throughout the rest of the year.  Likewise, this year there was a gauntlet of docs that show a lot of potential for increased success in the near future.

Last Call At the Oasis is a documentary about water.  It’s about the diminishing supply of water, the dangerous chemicals in water, the process of treating water and the growing idea of drinking bottled recycled water.  It’s a well-executed film with many expert opinions and sharp, clever graphic teaching aids, but it could benefit from narrowing its message down to a couple of the points listed above instead of trying to hit on all of them.  This is a documentary that we could see more of.  However, it really needs some editing work.

Love Free or Die is about Gene Robinson, the first openly gay ordained bishop in theEpiscopalianChurch.  It’s directed by Macky Alston and documents Gene, who becomes a sort of vehicle of change for theEpiscopalianChurch.  Gene Robinson, it turns out, was a fore-runner for so many other homosexual priests that are now allowed to be ordained, in theEpiscopalianChurch, as well as preside over gay weddings in states where they are legal.  The film documents specifically Gene’s shunning from the Lambeth conference and through the voting of this particular issue in theEpiscopalianChurch’s annual conference.

Affair of the Heart is an entertaining documentary about Rick Springfield, who still tours frequently to hefty crowds.  What makes the film so good is that it takes a few of his most avid fans, expands on their back stories and follows them as they jump from concert to concert throughout the country.  The film delves deep into their psyche; why Rick Springfield means so much to them and also the degree of obsession that many of them have.  The obsession is justified for some while others seem a little over-the-top.  Affair of the Heart was easily one of the most fun films I saw at the festival.La Comianeta documents the migrating of decommissioned school buses from theUnited States toGuatemala.  Those drivers that make the journey to and fro must endure serious danger of being killed by gangs or cartels along the way.  Once they arrive inGuatemala, the buses are fixed up, given a paint job and then used to take people to and from work.

Beauty is Embarrassing was easily my favorite film at the festival.  The film tells the story Wayne White, a very talented and creative artist who moved to East Tennessee from North Alabama at a very early age and eventually made his way up toManhattan and worked on the Pee Wee Herman show.  The film gives us insight into his childhood, his parents and his family.  Wayne White speaks with a vulgar hilarity, yet with a very kind-hearted Southern draw that makes him incredibly likeable.

The Nashville Film Festival is something that I increasingly look forward to every year and the free Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams given out to patrons was the proverbial cherry on top. Can’t wait until 2013!

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