Hey everyone! I’m here at the 45th annual Nashville Film Festival and thought it might be nice to write about the films and the experience. I’ve been to some film festival screenings before but this is the first where I get to really spend a lot of time here, meet a lot of people and soak it all in. I’m here as a finalist for the screenplay competition but I won’t find out the results of that contest until Friday. So until then, I get to relax, catch some great flicks, and have a drink or two.
For Thursday (4/17), my girlfriend Amber (who co-wrote the screenplay with me) and I opted to head straight to the Opening Night gala instead of the screenings. Meeting other creative people in this industry is my favorite part of this festival and opening night is where many of them show up. I arrived at the Regal Green Hills 16, which has pretty much the entire downstairs devoted to the festival. I went down, obtained my VIP laminate, and was unexpectedly greeted with a swag bag.
Inside the bag was a shiny silver pen, a Nashville Film Festival shot glass, and 2 mini-bottles of Jack Daniels. How the hell did they know exactly what I liked?! I went ahead and swigged some Jack (it’s Tennessee, that’s what we do here) and started walking around. There was a big red carpet with several cameras, although I never saw them filming anything so I assume they were doing a lot of that prior to our arrival. Around the corner was tons of amazing, great food, for FREE. I really wish I would’ve known that since I purposely ate before I came, thinking I would be devoid of tasty grub for a few hours. I still grabbed some and it was fantastic. They also had free ice cream from Jeni’s, which, if you’ve never had it before, you need to change that the next time you come to Nashville.
Next was the open bar. Yes, that is correct, OPEN BAR. (Can you tell that I am always and will forever be amazed by free stuff?) One Stella Artoi in my hand and I’m ready to mingle. I find out that apparently, Ray Liotta was chatting with everyone about an hour before I arrived, sporting a new white beard, which confused the hell out of some people. But I’m sure the only thought on his mind was “Where the hell is Ryan Estabrooks?” followed by the single, most loneliest tear a man could ever shed.
No sign of Nicole Kidman yet, nor Oprah. Damn. I need Harpo in my life. I did get to meet a lot of great people though, some local and some who flew in from all over the country. The great thing about these festivals is you don’t feel like quite the crazy, film-obsessive freak that you do out in the “normal world”. We talk about the benefit of doing different jobs on a film, the new golden age of TV, Oprah, shooting without a script, and a million other things. By the time I left, I was already inspired and excited for the next 9 days to follow.
On Friday, the movie watching began and so far, I have not been disappointed. I will run down some of the films I was lucky enough to see.
Synopsis: When Gracie is arrested for public drunkenness and attacking a police officer, she’s given a choice: six months in jail or 90 meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous in 90 days, and she has to do it in the small town she’s landed in. She’s not used to strangers caring about her, but perhaps the power of community can help her sidestep the landmines lining her path to sobriety – especially the ones she’s laid herself.
Not a weak link in the cast here, everyone did a great job and really played their parts with conviction. Annika Marks, who played the lead, was especially good here, going from emotional, raging alcoholic to caring individual without losing the audience. It can be tough to play extremely emotional characters because of how phony it can come across if even a sliver of the performance is off. We were with her the whole time, however. The rest of the cast did great too; Chase Mowen took the part of a surfer dude and made it different and surprising. Sharon Lawrence was tough but sweet as the woman who takes Grace in to help her get back on her feet. Cindy Joy Goggins was superb as a woman who had fallen off the wagon and had trouble getting back on.
The best thing I can say about this film is that it flew by extremely quickly. No dead weight in any of the scenes thanks to editor David Dean. I had a chance to meet and hang out with the cast/crew and I can honestly say they were some of the nicest, coolest people I have met at the festival so far. This was the World Premiere of Grace. and I hope it gets picked up soon.
Synopsis: While walking home from her latest OB appointment, a very pregnant Esther Woodhouse is brutally attacked and disfigured by a hooded assailant. This horrible event seems to be a blessing in disguise when Esther finds consolation in a support group. Her life of sadness and solitude is opened up to friendship, understanding, and even acceptance. However, friendship and understanding can be very dangerous things when accepted by the wrong people.
This film is a part of the Graveyard Shift, the section of the film fest that is dedicated to the weird, the horrific, and the totally out-there. Proxy is a horror film through-and-through but with some eerie drama in between the bloody scenes. It opens with a bang and I won’t lie, this is not for the faint of heart. Several scenes are absolutely brutal, physically brutal. I really loved the camerawork and cinematography of this one, the compositions really stood out to me.
About halfway into the film, it deals out a big scene that completely changes everything, almost acting like a climax. After that, I kept thinking “where is it going to go from here?”. I couldn’t tell at first, so it seemed to drag a bit until it gets further to the end when you realize why you were seeing those things earlier. Suddenly, the “boring” things you saw snapped into place and served a purpose.
All in all, it is a film about people who are obsessed with getting attention through any means necessary and really looks at the human desire to be wanted.
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