‘The Identical’ Kicks Off 10-Day 2014 Nashville Film Festival Today

the-identical-04The world premiere of a film shot here in 2012 opens the 45th Annual Nashville Film Festival (NaFF) today. The expanded festival runs through April 26.

The Identical, an appealing family drama about musically-gifted separated twins with a cast that features Ashley Judd, Ray Liotta, Seth GreenJoe Pantoliano and newcomer Blake Rayne in the leading role, starts at 7 p.m. The red carpet featuring some of the film’s actors starts at 5:30 p.m. and is open to the public and media. The feature releases nationally Sept. 12.

The Identical has already gone to “rush status” for its three scheduled showings, meaning that it’s sold out but there may be some tickets that become available the day of the show since filmmakers and sponsors may not use all of their allotted tickets. Those wishing to see if they can get in to a rush status screening should arrive no later than 30 minutes before showtime and check in at the box office to receive a numbered ticket. They will then be lined up in order of arrival to purchase available tickets on a first-come, first-served basis about five minutes before showtime. NaFF doesn’t guarantee those waiting in line will be successful getting tickets, but typically a majority of people willing to wait are able to get in.

Also on rush status today at 6:30 p.m. and having its Southeast US premiere is Chasing Ghosts, helmed by Nashville’s Josh Shreve. It stars Toby Nichols, Frances Conroy, W. Earl Brown, Tim Meadows and Robin Lively, with Lively scheduled to be on the red carpet prior to the screening. Another sell-out showing today is Tennessee Shorts 1 that includes Drew Langer’s Lower Broads (Tennessee Shorts 2 is also on rush status this evening).

For a list of screenings that are either on rush status or nearly sold out click here. For a printable grid schedule click here – just remember that the NaFF schedule is subject to change. And there are plenty of special events connected to the festival; for a flyer about those click here. And here is a link to NaFF’s “How to Fest” guide. (Plus check out what our friends at NowPlayingNashville.com are doing to help folks see festival screenings.)

NaFF Logo 45In addition to the competitive features, documentaries (such as The Case Against 8 that first screens at 6 p.m. today) and shorts screened at the Regal Green Hills Stadium 16 (the site of more than 200 film events in six theaters plus a VIP tent for filmmakers, celebrities and members as well as the NaFF Red Carpet) there will be free films nightly for the public via NaFF Cinema at Walk of Fame Park downtown as the festival expands to two locations and a 10-day schedule. The downtown location, named the Nissan Multicultural Festival Village at Walk of Fame Park, will also feature live music events, a cash bar and weekend activities for families, according to organizers. This Friday, Saturday and Sunday (April 18-20) NaFF will also screen free films at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.

One prominent downtown event is an all-day affair Saturday (April 19) where Sister Cities of Nashville and NaFF will celebrate Nashville’s international sister city partnerships (there are currently seven: Belfast, Northern Ireland; Caen, France; Edmonton, Canada; Magdeburg, Germany; Mendoza, Argentina; Taiyuan, China; and Tamworth, Australia.  SCN plans to sign a partnership treaty with Kamakura, Japan in 2014) and the festival’s 45th year as an international film festival.

A free public cultural showcase from 1 to 6 p.m. with music, dance, film, giveaways and other activities that represent Nashville’s sister cities kicks off the event. Short films from around the world will be shown at the Stella Festival Pub, NaFF’s pop-up pub in the park before the day finishes with a $75-per-person ticketed benefit for both organizations beginning at 6 p.m. called “A Filmtastic Affair” which will feature food, wine and spirits tastings from around the world and a live auction. At 8 p.m. guests to that gathering will view For the Love of Music: The Story of Nashville produced by the Nashville Convention and Visitors Corporation.

There were record-breaking totals of 3,133 films (a 5 percent increase over last year) from 125 countries submitted during the entry period for this year’s festival; that included 1,404 international submissions and 1,729 domestic films. “In five years we’ve doubled the call,” Artistic Director Brian Owens said when the numbers were released in February. “We can attribute it to NaFF’s reputation among filmmakers as one of the best festivals to get into in the world, and Nashville’s reputation as one of the world’s best cities to visit.”

NaFF’s inaugural Screenwriting Competition drew 1,523 entries in feature, short and teleplay divisions – the winners will be announced during the festival. “We are proud that so many screenwriters entered – but even more proud of the quality of scripts we received,” Executive Director Ted Crockett noted. “The inaugural screenwriting competition is a completely new opportunity and world for us.”

The Nashville Film Festival has been an Academy Award Qualifying Festival for short narratives for several years and was named an Academy Award Qualifying Festival for short documentaries this year. That means short films that win here are given Oscar consideration.

The festival has been voted one of “25 film festivals worth the entry fee” by MovieMaker Magazine and highlighted as One of the Best Film Festival Prizes by Film Festival Today. Brooks Institute named it one of the top 5 film festivals in the country, and NaFF wants to build on that strong reputation. “2014 promises to be a ground-breaking year for the Nashville Film Festival,” Crockett said when the festival numbers came out. “From expanding our dates to presenting events in multiple venues throughout Music City, these changes will lift NaFF into the top tier of 1,500 U.S. film festivals with programs and attendance rivaling Sundance, Toronto, and Seattle Film Festivals.”

For more information on films, events and tickets please visit www.nashvillefilmfestival.org.


*Image from The Identical courtesy City of Peace Films; NaFF logo courtesy Nashville Film Festival.

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About Evans Donnell

Evans Donnell is the chief theater, film and opera critic as well as co-founder of ArtsNash. He wrote reviews and features about theater, opera and classical music for The Tennessean from 2002 to 2011. He was the theater, film and opera critic for ArtNowNashville.com from 2011 to 2012. Donnell has also contributed to The Sondheim Review, Back Stage, The City Paper (Nashville), the Nashville Banner, The (Bowling Green, Ky.) Daily News and several other publications since beginning his professional journalism career in 1985 with The Lebanon (Tenn.) Democrat. He was selected as a fellow for the 2004 National Critics Institute at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center, and for National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) arts journalism institutes for theater and musical theater at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism in 2006 and classical music and opera at the Columbia University School of Journalism in 2009. He has also been an actor (member of Actors Equity Association and SAG-AFTRA), founding and running AthensSouth Theatre from 1996 to 2001 and appearing in Milos Forman's "The People vs Larry Flynt" among other credits. Donnell is a member of the American Theatre Critics Association (www.americantheatrecritics.org).