48 Years in, the Nashville Film Festival Explores New Paths Ahead

By Justin Stokes

There are a lot of great reasons to be in Nashville this week.

One of those many reasons is the 2017 Nashville Film Festival, which kicked off on Thursday, April 20. In its 48th year, the festival that started back in 1969 as the Sinking Creek Film Festival has drafted a wide scope of cinema to please anyone willing to buy a ticket to a screening.

Traditional documentaries like California Typewriter, films about music such as Cassette: A Documentary Mixtape, works from new directors, short films and features like The Void, Krotoa and The Scene of Rain and Lightning will make viewers laugh, cry, think and feel while questioning morals and long-held truths at a rate of 24 frames a second.

For Nashville, there’s nothing else even remotely like the festival, which has spent almost five decades becoming a resource for filmmakers and cinephiles to learn, meet new people and fine-tune the art-form at a regional level through community action and a showcase of films submitted from more than 150 countries for an all-inclusive experience that honors every cinematic genre and style.

The Nashville Film Festival’s Executive Director Ted Crockett has been with the program for 14 years. He shares that the festival “is very different this year for several reasons.”

“One is that we’re in a completely different location,” Crockett says. ‘We’ve been in the Regal Green Hills for almost 18 years. We’ve moved it to the 100 Oaks Theater, which has a lot more open area for the VIP tent and places where we can set up tables where people can sit down and read the program guide. And then, we’re also showing 303 films this year, which I believe is a record.”

The relocation comes with ten theaters for festival use (as opposed to the six provided by the previous location), and marks what should be a fruitful long-term partnership with the new space.

Of course, the festival doesn’t just showing films—it shows filmmakers how to make better films through hosted events on site. The two-day Creator’s Conference, held April 27-28, will give a crash-course in motion picture production for the various jobs that one might have on set.

“We announced a virtual reality competition. We got entries from all over the place from people who are creating virtual reality. We’ve had some really creative entries, and I think we’re one of the first two festivals in the world to start that category,” Crockett says. The purpose of the VR category is to encourage filmmakers to embrace a technology that’s been around for a while but is just now getting its legs.

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Members of the Comcast Xfinity team at the Nashville Film Festival opening night celebration (Photo by Justin Stokes)

In Nashville, the sound is arguably more important than the images of a movie, which is the reason the festival has provided this year’s Original Music Competitions for placement in television, films, commercials or video games.

According to Crockett, this year might have recorded the biggest opening night attendance the festival has ever seen, which he chalks up to the support and generous donations of various community partners and volunteers.

“Running a nonprofit group of this scope would be impossible without the help of sponsors like Comcast Xfinity,” Crockett says. “We love all our sponsors, and we are thrilled to have them.”

Anyone interested in learning more about this year’s Nashville Film Festival should visit the website for tickets, showtimes, panels and all other pertinent information.

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