12:09 – Happy Tax Day! I know, but things will improve. I just got to the theater for a 12:30 showing of the documentary “If a Tree Falls.” This is my first documentary of this year’s festival and I’m looking forward to it.
Last night was beautiful weather-wise for opening night. Today, however is not so nice. It’s raining hard right now, there are thunderstorm warnings, and tornados are a possibility later today. Of course, that just means it’s a great day to be inside.
I have to say that the festival has improved the way they handle letting people into the individual theaters. Two years ago, you had to wait in line until 5-10 minutes before the film started before they would open the doors. Not so this year. As someone who is seeing a lot of films and potentially standing in a lot of lines, I give the change two thumbs up!
The big event (other than the films themselves) is that Kris Kristofferson will be here tonight to receive a lifetime achievement award prior to the matinee showing of his film “Bloodworth.” I’ll be seeing “Bloodworth” tonight, but I’m not sure where Kris will be given his award. I need to check into that.
Almost movie time. I’ll see you in a little bit.
2:28 – Just finished watching “If a Tree Falls.” The film is about the Earth Liberation Front. Very interesting and very well done. It would have been very easy for the film to veer off into propaganda, but the director, Marshall Curry, did a great job of telling the whole story, both good and bad.
Next up is a narrative film, called “Falling Overnight.” The film is about to start. Got to go.
4:32 – Falling Overnight is a tender movie about a young man with a brain tumor and the woman he meets the night before he is scheduled for surgery. It was written, directed and edited by Conrad Jackson. He also did the cinematography on the film.
The acting in the film is tremendous. It stars Parker Croft and Emilia Zoryan. Both are excellent in in the film. Croft also co-wrote the film.
If I had one criticism to make, it is that the film is a bit slow moving. Some scenes seemed unnecessarily long. However, that is a rather minor point. In truth, the pace of the film fit the mood. I thought it was very well done and I enjoyed it very much.
The next film I am scheduled to see should be very interesting. The film is “Wish Me Away” and it is a documentary about Chely Wright, an openly gay country singer. The film tells the story of Chely’s life and career from the time she came out publicly to the present. As an added bonus, the film will be making its world premiere and Chely will be in attendance.
Later tonight, I’ll be in attendance when Kris Kristofferson receives his lifetime achievement award from the Nashville Film Festival.
It’s just about time to get in line for “Wish Me Away.” I’ll be back soon.
8:10 – “Wish Me Away” was very good. Unfortunately, I don’t have time to talk about it now. I’ll post many more thoughts about the film later tonight.
I just got into the theater for “Bloodworth.” The film is already 10 minutes late, and people are still flooding in. Plus, Kris Kristofferson still has to get his award, so we’re going to be running late. Hopefully I’m not late for my last movie of the day.
12:30 (Saturday morning) – I just got home after watching “Bloodworth” and then “Chance.” Before I talk about those films, let me talk a little about “Wish Me Away.” In case you are not familiar with the story, “Wish Me Away” is about Chely Wright’s decision to come out as a lesbian. I’m not sure why, but I expected kind of a superficial film. “Wish Me Away” is definitely not superficial. It is a very deep and comprehensive study of what happened in Chely’s life and career when she came out. I was impressed with the amount of backstory and behind-the-scene access contained in the film.
On a side note, I sat right across the aisle from Chely Wright during the showing of the film and I have to tell you that she is just as good looking in person as she is on the screen. The Q&A session following the film also showed that Chely is a very genuine person who is taking her new found public status as a lesbian, and the platform her coming out provides, very seriously. She wants nothing less than to be a leader in the GBLT movement.
After “Wish Me Away,” I went out to stand in line for 20 minutes to get in to see “Bloodworth.” While I was waiting, I met two guys from the crew of “The Nothing.” From talking to them, I learned that part of the problem with what I called the “production values” of the film were actually the result of a faulty projector. The guys told me that a problem with the projector caused the picture of the film to jump a little, and the video got out of sync a bit with the audio. At this afternoon’s showing, they said the film looked much better.
As we talked, I realized that one of the guys I was talking to was Derek R. Stogner, a co-writer on the film. I mentioned yesterday how creative and innovative I thought the script was. As it turns out, this is Derek’s first film. Very impressive!
After we finally got into the theater for “Bloodworth,” we had to wait another 20 minutes or so before several people spoke and Emmylou Harris finally presented Kris Kristofferson with his career achievement award (I mistakenly called it a lifetime achievement award previously). It was pretty cool to see people like Kristofferson, Harris, Hank Williams III, Reese Thompson, and others at the showing. Shane Dax Taylor, the director of the film (and a graduate of Watkins College of Art, Design & Film in Nashville) was also on-hand for the film.
“Bloodworth” is a very dark, depressing film. The film tells the story of E.F. Bloodworth (Kristofferson), who left his family 40 years earlier to pursue a music career. After suffering a stroke, he returns to his Tennessee home to be near his family and to heal some old wounds.
To call the Bloodworth clan dysfunctional is an insult to dysfunctional families everywhere. These guys are really screwed up. Fleming Bloodworth, E.F.’s grandson, is the only ray of sunshine in the film, and even he doesn’t always shine.
To say that the film is dark and depressing is not to say it is not good. I think Taylor and the cast did a terrific job with the film. It was very well done. But if you go to see it, expect to leave the theater a little bummed out.
Because Bloodworth started late, it also ended late, which made me about 15 minutes late for my last film of the day, “Chance.” “Chance” is a comedy from Panama that tells the story of two maids who hold their employers hostage in order to collect their back pay.
I was disappointed in the film. Although it was a comedy, “Chance” lacked very many funny scenes. It also contained some gratuitous violence and uncomfortable scenes (at least for me) of a young boy watching his family taken hostage and of him shooting a chandelier that falls and kills his dog. Not the type of scene I would expect in a comedy.
Having said this, I don’t want to leave you with the impression that “Chance” was a bad film. It was okay, but was weaker than the other narrative films I’ve seen at the film festival so far.
Tomorrow is documentary day. I’ll be seeing five films and all of them are documentaries. I’m looking forward to it.