The movies ended and the lights came up Saturday night on a Nashville Film Festival (NaFF) where ticket sales were up 30 percent and attendence was up more than 40 percent from last year, according to organizers.
NaFF celebrated its 45th anniversary by expanding to 10 days and two locations. For the first time ever, the festival presented 255 films from 53 countries, another record.
“This has truly been a spectacular year for the Nashville Film Festival presented by Nissan. It was our first year with 10 days of film at Regal Cinemas Green Hills and nine days of events at our outdoor NaFF Cinema at Walk of Fame Park in Downtown Nashville,” says Ted Crockett, Executive Director of the Nashville Film Festival. “We are already planning new and exciting ways to feature films to the public in outdoor settings in the months and years to come.”
With over 42,000 in attendance between both locations, the festival has exceeded last year’s total festival attendance by over 40 percent. Film submissions also broke records this year, with over 3,100 entries from 125 countries. NaFF Artistic Director Brian Owens had the thrill of working with some of the world’s leading directors and production houses, to bring more than 15 world and North American premieres along with 17 Southeast US premieres to NaFF this year.
Of the more than 250 competition films Owens says, “There were so many great films in our competition this year, that the juries had a difficult time picking the Grand Jury Prizes in each division.”
Major award winners included the beautiful and moving documentary Glen Campbell…I’ll Be Me by award winning Director James Keach and The Ballad of Shovels and Rope by Jace Freeman and Sean Clark of Nashville-based production house The Moving Picture Boys. The Freedom to Choose Southwest Airlines Audience Award for Best U.S. Narrative went to The Identical by first-time Director Dustin Marcinello starring Ray Liotta, Ashley Judd and newcomer Blake Rayne.
The NaFF Red Carpet was an active scene nearly every night of the festival with stars of film, television, and music. Throughout the festival, appearances were made by Keach, Liotta, Judd, Seth Green, Sharon Lawrence, Beth Grant, Béla Fleck, Naomi Judd and the family of Country music legend Glen Campbell among other notables. Academy Award winning Director Daniel Junge, notable independent film director Megan Griffiths and provocative filmmaker Dito Montiel also made appearances in support of their films screening at NaFF.
In addition to the competition films and the many special presentations, the first annual Screenwriters Competition garnered more than 1,500 entrants. “Our first annual screenwriters competition was such an incredible success and we look forward seeing some of these incredible artists’ works on the big screen soon,” Crockett says.
And now planning is already underway for the 2015 Nashville Film Festival. The dates for the 46th annual festival will be announced in June.