I’ll be posting about the Nashville Film Festival this week — the event got underway this past Thursday afternoon. I saw a number of films before the fest for my annual preview I write for The Contributor. On Thursday I went to pick up my credentials, and was able to score a ticket for the Stars in Shorts program on Friday — the movie had gone to rush status likely because of the “stars” in these short movies.
A highlight in the program included “Break” in which a well-to-do, elderly British couple befriends a struggling, working class couple with a small child. “Break” stars John Hurt who’s fantastic of course. The acting is strong all around, and the relationships between the struggling young adults and their elderly counterparts are quickly established and thoroughly believable. That said, the film’s dramatic ending — which includes a double suicide — was too big of a leap too quickly for me. Short films can be tricky when it comes to pacing, and I wish writer/director Nick Moss might have tried to tell a smaller story with an arc and an ending the audience could’ve more fully invested in.
On Saturday I saw the Experimental Showcase which will screen again on Thursday at 3pm. I’d definitely recommend this showcase for the amazing cinematography in Line Klungseth Johansen’s “Process: Breath” and the visionary assemblage of silent film footage and the aesthetics of alchemical engravings in Stacey Steers’ “Edge of Alchemy” which must be one of the best animated films at the festival. Russell Sheaffer and Aaron Michael Smith’s “Etude 1a: Release (I)” uses found footage of cowboy culture and livestock to tell a poetic history of the American West. The movie is sometimes mesmerizing even if it ended way too early for my taste. “This is Yates” is the best thing I’ve seen at the fest so far. Josh Yates’ montage of home movie footage is a visionary exploration of memory, family, everyday life in Fayetteville, North Carolina, and it reminded me of cinema’s capacity to transform the blunt and the brutal into something beautiful, even incandescent.
Over Saturday and Sunday I also saw two programs of short documentaries. I recommend both programs which will screen again this week. Documentary Showcase I will play again on Wednesday at 5:30 pm. I really liked “Four Quarters of Silence” which told the story of the Texas School for the Deaf’s varsity football team, and “The Moderators” which illuminated the work days of the real life people who are making sure that Facebook isn’t awash in dick pics. My favorite of the program was Axel Danielson and Maximilien Van Aertryck’s “10 Meter Tower” which pictures a succession of everyday Swede’s attempting to will themselves to jump into a pool from the titular tower. It’s a simple premise that results in high anxiety and hilarity alike and the filmmakers’ commitment to mostly static shots picturing their protagonists trying to will themselves to jump is a masterstroke. Documentary Showcase II screens again on Monday at 3:30 pm. Adam Roffman’s “The Collection” gives a history lesson in movie advertising while also offering gorgeous eye candy for lovers of letterpress printing, and Edvard Karijord and Bendik Mondal’s “I’m Free” is actually a student film that blew away the festival jury who decided it belonged in the main competition instead of in the student category. The movie is a poetic meditation on the life of a mentally ill man whose disappearance continues to haunt the family and friends he left behind.