‘After’ and ‘Beauty is Embarrassing’ open, ‘BIG EASY EXPRESS’ and ‘Paul Williams Still Alive’ to close; Jurors, Red Carpet Run 5K also announced for 43rd edition of the longest-running film festival in the South.
Continuing a trend started several years ago at the Festival, two films will officially open and close the Nashville Film Festival (NaFF) presented by Nissan when it takes place April 19-26, 2012 at the Regal Green Hills Cinemas. Previously announced official selection “Beauty is Embarrassing” and the World Premiere of “After” will share the opening honors, while recently announced selections “BIG EASY EXPRESS,” presented by the Americana Music Association, and “Paul Williams Still Alive” will close it out.
“What started the last two years, almost by accident, with “Bloodworth” and “Submarine” opening and “Another Earth” and “Terri” closing has turned out to be a successful strategy for us,” says Brian Owens, NaFF artistic director. “It gives people a couple of options and wildly different ones at that, on each of the nights. Whether it’s an oft-hilarious art documentary or a borderline dystopian fantasy, or music films about then or now, we’ve got you covered.”
Written and directed by Ryan Smith, “After “ tells the story of two bus crash survivors (Steven Strait and Karolina Wydra) who awake to discover that they are the only people left in their small town and must form an unlikely alliance in a race to unravel the truth behind their isolation. The film also stars Madison Lintz (“The Walking Dead”) and Sandra Lafferty (“Hunger Games”). The film has strong Nashville connections, as it was produced by Sabyn Mayfield, daughter of famed casting director Laray Mayfield (“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” “The Social Network,” “Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,” et al) and Brandon Gregory together with Franklin,Tennessee-based Seabourne Pictures, which includes Michael W. Smith and Greg Ham, and Quite Quick Productions. The younger Mayfield also casted the film. Nashville-based Magnetic Dreams Animation did all the visual effects, their first time for a film made entirely in Nashville.
Director Neil Berkeley’s “Beauty is Embarrassing” is the funny, irreverent and inspiring story of one of America’s most important artists, Wayne White. Raised in Chattanooga, Tennessee, White has spent the last 30 years making his indelible mark on pop culture. From his humble roots as a puppeteer in Nashville to his work as one of the creative forces behind “Pee-wee’s Playhouse” to award-winning music video work to his current life as a darling in the fine art world, White has inspired millions of people across the country. The film includes plenty of footage shot in Tennessee including a White book signing in Chattanooga bookstore and a visit with his friend Mike Quinn at the Webb School in Bell Buckle. Variety magazine calls White “a compelling folk hero for those who never knew art could be fun.”
Directed by Emmett Malloy (“Out Cold,” “The White Stripes Under Great White Northern Lights”) “BIG EASY EXPRESS” documents the musical journey of three bands on one train over thousands of miles of track through six cities. In April of 2011, indie folk heroes Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros, Nashville’s Old Crow Medicine Show and Britain’s acclaimed Mumford & Sons climbed aboard a beautiful antique train in California, setting out for Louisiana on a “tour of dreams.” Part road movie and part concert film, “BIG EASY EXPRESS” bears witness to the birth of a new musical era. With poignancy and beauty, Malloy documents these incredible musicians as they ride the rails and wow the crowds, from Oakland … to New Orleans.
“Paul Williams Still Alive” began as a personal investigation by director Steven Kessler to track down and find out what happened to his childhood idol Paul Williams, writer of Three Dog Night’s “An Old Fashioned Love Song”; The Carpenters’ “We’ve Only Just Begun”; and “Rainbow Connection,” performed by Kermit the Frog in “The Muppet Movie, as well the star of various big and small screen films and shows, most notably Brian DePalma’s “Phantom of the Paradise” (which he also co-scored), a genius orangutan in “Battle for the Planet of the Apes” and a regular guest on Johnny Carson’s couch. Kessler was surprised to learn that Williams is still very much alive, and set out to make a documentary. Williams allows Kessler to accompany him on his travels, but the director soon discovers that his subject isn’t the same man from television that he once idolized.
Jurors for the 2012 Nashville Film Festival presented by Nissan have also been announced. The Bridgestone Narrative Competition is made up of Watkins College of Art, Design and Film’s Robin Fister; Millenium Studios’ executive producer Diego Martinez; and actor Anthony Zerbe (“Cool Hand Luke,” “Star Trek Insurrection,” “The Matrix Revolutions”). The Documentary Competition will be judged by Documentary Channel’s Greg Crofton; artist, director and designer J Bird Lathon; and award-winning sponsored film and documentary maker Anita Moffatt. The New Directors Competition jury is made up of actor Michael Chieffo (“Disclosure,” “Crimson Tide,” “Beginners”); renowned and prolific actress Beth Grant, the only actor in history to have appeared in three Academy Award winning Best Pictures and a Best Animated Feature: “The Artist,” “No Country for Old Men,” and “Rango;” and Joe Pacheco, award-winning filmmaker of “After the Fall” and an Emmy-nominated cinematographer.
NaFF’s signature Music Films / Music City jury will be comprised of writer/producer and director Todd Elgin; Durango Film Society founder Jane Julian; and Helen Pursell, director of programming and Scheduling for the Documentary Channel. Narrative, Animation and Documentary shorts will be judged by Lauren Avinoam, founder of LA Publicity; Dorothy Henckel, director of Acquisitions for the Documentary Channel; and Suzie Howard, award-winning filmmaker of “Fans and Freaks” and the short film “Creme Roll Confessions.”
To balance off the majority of sitting that goes on at the Festival, organizers this year are also pleased to the present The 1st annual “Rotary Red Carpet Run 5K,” a chipped road race through Green Hills. This race trails through the beautiful community of Green Hills, starting and ending at Avenue Bank directly behind the Mall of Green Hills where NaFF takes place. This race is presented by the Rotary club of Green Hills and benefits the Second Harvest Food Banks Backpacks program. For more information, and to register, please visit http://rotaryredcarpetrun.org/.
A complete list of previously announced feature films in competition and non-competition categories, as well as animated, narrative and documentary shorts, is available now at nashvillefilmfestival.org. A complete schedule will be announced later this week.
Tickets for the festival, which runs April 19-26 at the Regal Green Hills Cinemas, go on sale to the general public at nashvillefilmfestival.org on April 11. Members of the media wishing to apply for media credentials may do so until April 5 at nashvillefilmfestival.org/press > “Apply for Media Credentials.”
Nashville Film Festival is a non-profit 501(c)(3) corporation and receives funding from The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, Franklin Brooks Philanthropic Fund and William N. Rollins Fund for the Arts of The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee, Ann & Lance Krafft Charitable Lead Trust, The Memorial Foundation, Nashville Metro Arts Commission, Tennessee Arts Commission, the National Endowment for the Arts and its generous patrons and sponsors.