The 51st Nashville Film Festival was an innovative virtual event that took place from October 1-7, 2020. This year’s festival was the most accessible version to audiences yet, and both filmmakers and film lovers were given unique opportunities to connect and enjoy digital screenings, panels, filmmaker Q&As, musical performances and other original content online. The virtual festival featured more than 200 films, Creators Conference panels, Q&As and other exclusive content that brought the magic of the Nashville Film Festival directly to those at home.
A special thanks to all of the participating filmmakers, film fans and supporting partners that made this virtual festival such a success.
Congratulations to all the winners of the 51st Nashville Film Festival!
Best Narrative Feature: KUESSIPAN
Directed by Myriam Verreault
Two girls grow up as best friends in an Innu community. While Mikuan has a loving family, Shaniss is picking up the pieces of her shattered childhood. As children, they promised each other to stick together no matter what. But as they’re about to turn 17, their friendship is shaken when Mikuan falls for a white boy, and starts dreaming of leaving the reserve that’s now too small for her dreams.
Best Music City/Music Documentary Feature: AFTER SO MANY DAYS
Directed by Jim Hanft and Samantha Yonack
After a decade of making music together, Jim and Sam, a recently married singer/songwriter duo from Los Angeles, were not the conventionally successful band they hoped they’d be. Feeling stuck and anxious about their future, the duo made a spontaneous decision to go “all in,” making a pact to play one show every day for a year. With suitcases and a guitar, the troubadours ventured out for a 365-day tour down unexplored roads and onto unexpected stages, bringing their music to new audiences throughout 14 different countries. After So Many Days, is an intimate front row seat to the highs and lows of what it’s like for two people to pursue a dream, together.
Best Documentary Feature: BORN TO BE
Directed by Tania Cypriano
Born to Be follows Dr. Jess Ting at the Mount Sinai Center for Transgender Medicine and Surgery in New York—where transgender and gender non-conforming people have access to quality transition-related health and surgical care. This documentary takes an intimate look at how one doctor’s work impacts the lives of his patients as well as how his journey from plastic surgeon to pioneering gender-affirming surgeon has led to his own transformation.
Documentary Feature Honorable Mention: SAPELO
Directed by Nick Brandestini
Sapelo is a documentary that journeys within a unique American island to tell the story of its matriarchal griot, Cornelia Walker Bailey, and her adopted sons coming of age in the last remaining enclave of the Saltwater Geechee people.
Best Animated Feature: TRUE NORTH
Directed by Eiji Han Shimizu
After his father disappears and the rest of his family is sent to a notorious political prison camp in North Korea, a young boy must learn to survive the harsh conditions, find meaning in his perilous existence, and maybe even escape.
Best New Directors Feature: FREELAND
Directed by Mario Furloni & Kate McLean
Devi has been breeding legendary pot strains for decades, farming by day and getting stoned by night, fully expecting to live out her days on the remote homestead she built herself. But when cannabis is legalized, the fragile balance of her whole idyllic life is thrown into disarray.
Best Tennessee Feature: YOU DON’T KNOW ME
Directed by Jon Kent
You don’t know TN death row inmate Abu-Ali Abdur ‘Rahman and the cascade of injustices that keep him fighting for his life. You don’t know Lionel Barrett, a celebrated defense attorney turned rural goat farmer, who inexplicably blew Abu’s case. You don’t know the prominent businessman whose mysterious cult orchestrated the crime or the deceitful DA who misled the jury. Know them–and the truth behind one of Nashville’s most notorious crimes.
Best Graveyard Shift Feature: SANZARU
Directed by Xia Magnus
When a home health aid and her nephew move in to care for an elderly woman and her unstable son, two broken families find themselves dangerously isolated under one roof.
Best Narrative Short: STICKER
Directed by Georgi M. Unkovski
37 year old Dejan finds himself at odds with the law after a local DMV is out of registration stickers and is unable to renew his car registration. Determined to continue on the journey to see his daughter, Dejan faces a series of events which test his commitment to being a responsible father.
Best Documentary Short: THE HEART STILL HUMS
Directed by Savanah Leaf & Taylor Russell
A documentary short, following five women as they fight for their children through the cycle of homelessness, drug addictions and neglect from their own parents. Unique, yet undoubtedly familiar to many; a story on fear, sacrifice and the unconditional love between a mother and her children.
Best Animated Short: CRUNCH
Directed by Liukaidi Peng
Best Experimental Narrative Short: DYE RED
Directed by Vittoria Campaner
Celeste and Aurora have lived together for some time. Dye Red is a dark but graceful slice of life look at their relationship.
Best Graveyard Shift Short: WEEKEND
Directed by Ario Motevaghe
Moniri and Kheradmand family are in park for a picnic. But after finishing their meal, it is revealed that they are here for something else.
Best Tennesse Short: BURY ME AT TAYLOR HOLLOW
Directed by Orion and Rebekah Pahl
Bury Me at Taylor Hollow follows the growing pains of Larkspur as they set out to raise $210,000 to buy 112 acres for both natural burial and conservation.
Best Tennessee Student Short: CAT BURGLAR
Directed by Tyler Aldridge, Ngoc Chi Nguyen, and Virginia Lake Petty
An overzealous cat burglar must escape with his life after he discovers he has purloined the wrong pooch.
NextGen Junior Division: BEST SEAT IN THE HOUSE
Directed by Lily Gibbons
A short animation about an age old argument between siblings that takes a turn for the messy.
NextGen Senior Division: RIO
Directed by Evgeniya Kazankina
Paulina lives and works in a small hotel in the northern town near the border. She and her friend Nadia dream of a different, paradise and exotic world. The girls almost do not leave the empty hotel and live, performing their strange daily rituals in the hope that someday it will lead them to a miracle. Once a stranger arrives at the hotel.
Best Episodic Pilot: GETS GOOD LIGHT
Directed by Alejandra Parody
At the tail-end of a restaurant shift, Andrell, a rookie real estate broker moonlighting as a server, puts his life and career on the line to help his undocumented co-worker during a run in with ICE.
Best Episodic Series: WHEELHOUSE
Created by Andy Miara and Terrance Brown
Wheelhouse is a show about everything that happens at work that has nothing to do with work. It’s about a group of people who use a company-sponsored activity to escape the prison of the office, shed their work personas, and become more ridiculous human beings they actually are.
Best Virtual Reality Film: THE CURIOUS LIFE OF BILL MONT
Directed by Andrea Patiño Contreras and Katrina Sorrentino
2020 FESTIVAL FILM GUIDE
MORE ABOUT THE 2020 PROGRAMMING:
Narrative Feature Competition:
10 films will be selected to compete for the Grand Jury Prize.
Documentary Feature Competition:
Documentaries about music or musicians should enter the Music Films/Music City Competition. 10 non-fiction films will be selected to compete for the Grand Jury Prize.
Music Films/Music City Feature Competition:
10 non-fiction films about music, musicians or the impact of music will be selected to compete for the Grand Jury Prize.
New Directors Feature Competition:
6 films by first time feature fiction filmmakers will be selected to compete for the Grand Jury Prize. Please note that this is for first-time NARRATIVE features, not documentaries.
Graveyard Shift Feature Competition:
4 films will be selected to compete in this category for the best in “genre cinema.” This category includes horror, sci-fi, action and films that are generally over-the-top, shocking and strange.
Animated Feature Competition:
At least 3 Animated Feature Films will be selected for competition. To qualify for this category a minimum of 75% of the film’s running time must be animated.
Tennessee Feature Competition:
The Tennessee First Competition is open to feature films (over 40 minutes) that meet two of the three following criteria: 1 – The Director is a Tennessee Resident 2 – The Producer or Screenwriter is a Tennessee Resident 3 – At least 65% of the film is shot in Tennessee. Films submitted in this category MUST be Tennessee Premieres. STRONG preference will be given to World Premieres.
A selection of 6 narrative feature films made in the U.S.
Fringe World Cinema:
A selection of 6 unique features from around the world.
Narrative Shorts Competition:
International competition for Live Action narrative films under 40 minutes in length. The Grand Jury Prize-winning film will be eligible for Academy Award™ consideration, assuming it meets all other eligibility requirements.
Animated Shorts Competition:
International competition for animated films under 40 minutes in length. The winning film will be eligible for Academy Award™ consideration, assuming it meets all other eligibility requirements.
Documentary Shorts Competition:
International competition for non-fiction films under 40 minutes in length. The winning film will be eligible for Academy Award™ consideration, assuming it meets all other eligibility requirements.
Experimental Shorts Competition:
International competition for experimental non-narrative films under 40 minutes in length. The winning film receives a $500 cash prize.
Graveyard Shift Shorts Competition:
International competition for live action or animated horror, sci-fi, shocking and otherwise offensive, over-the-top films under 40 minutes in length.
Tennessee Shorts Competition:
A competition for narrative, non-fiction and animated films under 40 minutes in length that meet at least two of the three following criteria: 1 – The Director is a Tennessee Resident 2 – The Producer or Screenwriter is a Tennessee Resident 3 – At least 65% of the film is shot in Tennessee.
An international Junior and Senior division competition for narrative, non-fiction and animated films under 40 minutes in length created by student filmmakers.
Tennessee Student Shorts Competition:
A competition for narrative, non-fiction and animated student films under 40 minutes in length made by students at a Tennessee college or university.
A competition for material created for any medium including television, streaming and internet. The pilot must not have been aired in the US and must not be published on the internet at the time of the 2020 Nashville Film Festival. It must be intended to be serialized. Submissions must be a single episode (even if additional episodes have been created) and must be under 60 minutes in length.
Episodic Competition – Series:
A competition for material created for any medium including television, streaming and internet. The maximum runtime of the submission is 180 minutes AND a maximum of three episodes may be submitted. Materials should not have been published or aired prior to January 1, 2019 and should be currently airing and/or in production.
2020 SCREENPLAY COMPETITION
Screenplay categories include Shorts, Features and Pilots.
SUBCATEGORIES (FEATURES ONLY)
Comedy. This includes blended genres, such as action-comedy or dramedy. If you script is intended to make people laugh as it’s primary element, it will compete best as a comedy. Examples of comedy scripts: Bridesmaids, Stuber, Blockers, Shaun of the Dead, Bad Boys.
Drama. These are scripts that primarily aim to tell a serious story. Parts of it may contain humor or other genre-related elements, but the main thrust is dramatic tension during the hero’s journey. Example of drama scripts: Manchester By The Sea, Moonlight, Roma, Hidden Figures.
Horror. This includes blended genres like horror-thriller or any other blend except comedy. The primary aim of a horror is to entertain the audience through tapping into their fears. Examples of horror scripts: Us, Child’s Play, A Quiet Place, Crawl.
Genre. These include films that are not included in any of the above primary genres. Films that would compete best in genre would include fantasy, science fiction, action, mystery, adventure, family, animation, musical, historical, Western, mockumentary, or any blended genres that are not included in the three main categories above, such as action-adventure. Examples of genre scripts: John Wick, Captain Marvel, The Hateful Eight, Toy Story, Star Wars, Lala Land.
Genre scripts are also invited to enter the genre specific-prize category. While all scripts will be considered together in genre for quarterfinal, semifinal and finalist announcements, only scripts that also enter the genre-specific element will be considered for recognition in that category.
Diversity. This category is for writers with an under-represented voice in the marketplace telling the stories of under-represented or marginalized people. Diversity entries can be for any of the categories above. The highest rated scripts will move forward in the competition for award under this category. Diversity scripts can also be entered in any of the main categories for consideration. Our finalists last year represented a very diverse set of voices, but this category ensures that there is a diverse winner. There is also a discounted rate for this category.