Officially at the halfway point, the Nashville Film Festival continues May 14. Scattered among the numerous offerings beginning at noon on Monday are a wide array of films that while they don’t initially seem to have a commonality, are all classic in their own way, whether featuring a classic personality, a classic emotion or a classic film returning to the big screen, Day 5 once again offers something for everyone.
Up first at 12:15 is Take This Job, a grouping of seven short narrative films with the common thread of examining jobs around the globe. With a runtime of 17 minutes, Turk Shop centers around coworkers in a Swedish creative agency. Directed by Bahar Pars, this short stars Sanna Sundqvist, Marall Nasir, Fanni Metulius, Eric Stern, Jonas Malmsjo and Jens Ohlin.
Next is the Southeastern Premiere of Sam Did It. Directed by and co-starring Dominic Burgess, Harley Jane Kozak and Alfred Molina, this 14-minute short from the U.S. reveals what happens when Sam (Burgess) meets his celebrity idol…the twist…Sam works in a hospital morgue and his idol (Molina) is dead. The filmmaker is schedule to be in attendance.
With a runtime of 13-minutes, Matria, from Spain examines Ramona’s (Francisca Iglesias Bouzón) escape from her daily routine in the relationships she has with her daughter and granddaughter. Directed and written by Álvaro Gago, the short is presented in Spanish with English subtitles.
Quiet Things No One Sees offers a look at a different sort of job, the job of a teenage Hispanic girl, growing up in a lower income family in the US, as she goes through the red tape of keeping her father on healthcare. Almog Antonir and Andrej Landin co-directed and co-wrote the short starring Isidora Alvarado, Thom Assam-Miller, Megan Brotherton, Chase Cargill, Stewart Flores, Jose Martinez and Jean Murillo. Marking its World Premiere screening, this 16-minute film is also presented in Spanish with English subtitles. The filmmakers are schedule to be in attendance.
Two Dollars, a joint presented from France and Canada will be making its Tennessee Premiere. In the 7-minute short, we meet Sylvie, who after a week away from work following more than fifteen years as an exemplary employee with a company in Quebec, is called into a strange meeting. Directed by Emmanuel Tenenbaum, the film stars Amélie Bernard, Jonathon Gagnon and Nick Theodorakis.
The U.S. premiere of Jodilerks Dela Cruz, Employee of the Month, produced in the Philippines and Singapore as directed by Carlo Francisco Manatad, tells the tale of a gas station attendant (Angeli Bayani) as she wraps her final night of working at a local gas station with some less than conventional behavior. Presented in Tagalog with English Subtitles, the film has a runtime of 22 minutes.
Rounding out the block is Australia’s Second Best, a dark comedy about identical twins whose mother has pushed her daughters to excel int he world of rhythmic gymnastics. One seems very dedicated, while the other is facing the reality of either continuing on the same path as her twin, or a completely separate life and career path. Real-life twins Karina and Raechelle Banno star, alongside Lucy Bell and Mirko Grillini, as directed by Alyssa McCelland, who also co-wrote the screenplay with Simone Messenger. The creators of the short are currently considering expanding the idea into a full-length feature film.
The emotion of love is examined in a block of short films titled Love Bytes, screening at 2:30 p.m. on Monday. First is El Beso (The Kiss). From Spain and presented in Spanish with English subtitles, this nine-minute film, directed by David Priego and starring Carlos Troya, Lourdes Hernández, Maru Valdivielso and Quique Fernández Villar explores the magical and mystical relationship that sometimes flourishes between a work of art and the observer.
La Casa Del Arbol (The Treehouse) comes from Colombia, presented in Spanish with English subtitles as we join Veronica (Luna Acosta) and Mateo (Juan Lugo) on the day they take their relationship to the next level by becoming roommates. A scene where Mateo is seen maneuvering Veronica’s refrigerator up a steep sidewalk might indicate the first of many uphill battles the newly cohabitating couple will face. The Southeastern Premiere drama, with a runtime of 22 minutes is sure to be universally relatable.
From Palestinian filmmaker Rakan Mayasi comes Bonbone, an 8 minute romantic short in which a couple come up with a creative way to conceive a child while the husband is being held prisoner in an Israeli jail cell. Presented in Arabic with English subtitles, the film stars Rana Alamuddin and Saleh Bakri.
While not procreating with the goal of reproduction, Pre-Drink also centers around rather unconventional sexual contact when two friends, one a young trans woman, the other a gay man, decide to do the deed. From Canada and presented in French with English subtitles, director Marc-Antoine LeMire and stars Pascale Drevillon and Alex Trahan have already received accolades for their work, having been awarded Best Canadian Short Film honors at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival, as well as the Cinematic Achievement Award at the Thess International Short Film Festival in Greece.
Backstory, a German 15-minute short making its Tennessee Premiere is a romantic drama explores the seemingly simplistic truth that everything we love, everything we learn, everything we build, everything we fear, will one day be nothing more than a memory. Directed by Joschka Laukeninks, the short stars Jan Stapelfeldt, Xenia Assenza and Jessica McIntyre.
In a Heartbeat, the block’s sole animated offering, and also the group’s only short presented with no dialogue features a shy boy reluctant to express his increasingly romantic interest in another boy. The thing is, his heart isn’t as content to keep feelings to itself. An entry in both the festival’s Animated Shorts and Student Shorts competition, this seven-minute film was co-written and co-directed by Esteban Bravo and Beth David.
The U.S. short, Martini Night, directed by Jacob Halpern and Steven Ross, reveals how a task as simple as buying cocktail olives for a housewarming party can turn into an all-out unexpected cathartic therapy session right in the middle of the grocery store for a couple with problems usually bubbling below the surface. Emily Althaus and Drew Lewis star. The filmmakers will be in attendance.
Originally released in 1971, director Hal Ashby’s brilliantly quirky romantic comedy Harold and Maude returns to the big screen during Nashville Film Festival with a special 6 p.m screening on Monday. Starring Ruth Gordon and Bud Cort, this unlikely pair first meet at a funeral. A unique and simply beautiful relationship soon develops between the 80-year-old eccentric Maude and the suicidally obsessed, but charming 20-year-old Harold. Both actors received Gold Globe nominations for their roles. Absolutely one of my favorite films, I just might have to see it again for the millionth time, myself!
Another personal favorite, Sammy Davis Jr. is the subject of Sammy Davis Jr.: I Got to Be Me, a new feature documentary making its Tennessee Premiere Monday night at 8:15 p.m. Directed by Samuel D. Pollard, the film focuses not only on the entertainer’s career and legend, but also his often complicated life, from racial prejudices to the changing tide of audience’s interest in his traditional style of performance and even his choice to convert to Judaism in a time when men of color seemed more associated with christianity steeped in the old south. Featuring archival footage of Davis, himself, the doc also features conversations and interviews with equally legendary performs Harry Belafonte, Tony Bennet, May Britt, Diahann Carroll, Billy Chrystal, Angie Dickinson, Whoopi Goldberg, Quincy Jones, Norman Lear, Jerry Lewis, Shirley MacLaine, Kim Novak and Sidney Poitier.
Last on my list of recommendations for Monday is After Louie, starring Alan Cumming. This feature-length drama, directed by Vincent Gagliostro, could be perceived as a fictional continuation of his 2015 fact-based doc, After Silence, about Avram Finkelstein, who, as part of the activist collective created the now iconic Silence=Death posters during the early days of the AIDS crisis. Whether that’s the inspiration for the director’s feature-length debut, or the two simply share a similar title and similar subject is irrelevant. What matters is the magnificent Alan Cumming starring in After Louie as Sam Cooper, a former activist during the ACT UP movement (the organization who coined the above reference Silence=Death motto) of the late 80s, in response to the inactivity of the US government to acknowledge or respond to the HIV/AIDS crisis. Set in the present, Cumming’s Sam is faced with the contradictions of modern gay life compared to the history he knew and lived through, as well as the complications of sharing his knowledge with not only a new generation of gay men who seem oblivious the the struggles, the still-present threat of HIV/AIDS. Adding to the drama, Sam is also coming to terms with the possibility of a new relationship, with a younger man (Zachary Booth), creating still more obstacles as he addresses his current status as an older gay man in a culture that favors youth.
As always, as Nashville Film Festival continues, there are many many other choices besides the ones highlighted in this preview. Click Here to view Monday’s full schedule or to purchase individual tickets. Tickets to each film or group of shorts are $15 (Members may purchase tickets at a discounted rate, while Festival pass holders may attend for free as part of their Festival Pass perks) Click Here for details about VIP Laminates.
For all the latest updates and happenings, follow Nashville Film Festival on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. If you’ve enjoyed this article, please subscribe to Nashville Arts Critic by entering your email address in the “Subscribe” section to the right of this article to ensure you receive free email alerts when new content is published. You can also follow NashvilleArtsCritic.com on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Tumbler.
Be sure and check back tomorrow morning for details about Day 6. In the meantime, you can always follow my personal Facebook, Instagram and Twitter as I’ll be checking in from time to time direct from the festival thru May 19!