2021 Festival

Our expanded 2021 festival plan included a full range of in-person screenings at venues throughout Nashville in addition to festival films, panels and Q&As securely online! The 52nd Nashville Film Festival extends our important goals to elevate and honor filmmakers, screenwriters, musicians and artists from around the world and here in Tennessee. The 2021 festival featured more than 150 films, Creators Conference panels, Q&As, the annual Music Program and other exclusive content in an engaging mix of in-person and online events.


Best Narrative Feature:  Poser

Directed by Ori Segev & Noah Dixon

Lennon Gates is a quiet and observant podcaster, but when she meets the charismatic musician Bobbi Kitten, her deceptive intentions surface. As their friendship forms, Lennon quickly spirals into obsession as she struggles with an unchecked search for creative identity.

Best Music Documentary Feature:  Brian Wilson: Long Promised Road

Directed by Brent Wilson

Brian Wilson: Long Promised Road is a deeply personal documentary that explores the life and career of the legendary songwriter, composer and producer through a literal and metaphorical road trip exploring Brian’s hometown. With Rolling Stone editor Jason Fine behind the wheel and Brian selecting the music, the two revisit many of the periods and locations integral in shaping Brian’s life. The feature length film artfully weaves fascinating anecdotes throughout an impressionistic love letter to both Brian’s music and Los Angeles.

Best Documentary Feature:  Socks on Fire

Directed by Bo McGuire

SOCKS ON FIRE is Bo McGuire’s lyrical testament to Southern women couched in the familial battle for his beloved grandmother’s throne. Through a series of stylized reenactments spun in with family VHS footage, SOCKS ON FIRE documents the fluidity of identity, personality and performance in his hometown among his kin and the many women who’ve been a force in Bo’s life.

Best New Directors Feature:  Clara Sola

Directed by Nathalie Alvarez Mesén

CLARA, 40, is believed to have a special connection to God. As a «healer», she sustains a family and a village in need of hope, while she finds solace in her relationship with the natural world. After years of being controlled by her mother’s repressive care, Clara’s sexual desires are stirred by her attraction to her niece’s new boyfriend. This newly awakened force takes Clara to unexplored territory, allowing her to cross boundaries, both physical and mystical. Empowered by her self-discovery, Clara gradually frees herself from her role as “saint” and begins to heal herself.

Best Tennessee Feature:  Thistle

Directed by: Ryan Camp 

Authentic and inspiring, “Thistle” dives into the complexity of a Nashville, TN based recovery community for women survivors, as both individuals and the organization grapple to find hope and healing in the midst of change.

Best Graveyard Shift Feature:  Woodland Dark and Days Bewitched: A History of Folk Horror     

Directed by: Kier-La Janisse

WOODLANDS DARK AND DAYS BEWITCHED explores the folk horror phenomenon from its beginnings. Touching on over 200 films and featuring over 50 interviewees, WOODLANDS DARK AND DAYS BEWITCHED investigates the many ways that we alternately celebrate, conceal and manipulate our own histories in an attempt to find spiritual resonance in our surroundings.

Best Narrative Short:  Like The Ones I Used to Know

Directed by: Annie St-Pierre

December 24, 1983, 10:50 p.m.; Julie and her cousins ate too much sugar, Santa Claus is late and Denis, alone in his car, is anxious at the idea of setting foot in his ex-in-laws’ house to pick up his children.

Best Documentary Short: Águilas/ Eagles  

Directed by Kristy Guevara-Flanagan, Maite Zubiaurre

Along the southern desert border in Arizona, it is estimated that only one out of every five missing migrants are ever found. Águilas is the story of one group of searchers, the Aguilas del Desierto. Once a month these volunteers—construction workers, gardeners, domestic laborers by trade—set out to recover the missing, reported to them by loved ones often thousands of miles away.

Best Animated Short:  Navozande, The Musician 

Directed by Reza Riahi

During a vicious attack, a young musician and the love of his life are brutally separated from one another. Fifty years later, the musician is summoned to play at the Mongol castle where his beloved has been held.

Best “The Edge” Short:  Point and Line to Plane

Directed by: Sofia Bohdanowicz

Devastated after the death of a friend, a young woman (Deragh Campbell) attempts to extract meaning from this intense loss as she discovers signs in her daily life and through encounters with the art of Hilma af Klint and Wassily Kandinsky. Borrowing its title from Kandinsky’s 1926 book, Point and Line to Plane portrays the phenomenon of magical thinking endured during an individual’s journey to process, heal and document a period of mourning.

Best Graveyard Shift Short:  Stuffed

Directed by Theo Rhys, Joss Holden-Rea

Stuffed is a short musical about a taxidermist who dreams of stuffing a human and the man she meets online, so afraid of aging he volunteers to be her specimen. An unexpected romantic spark between them complicates their plans.

Best Tennessee Short:  Carthage House of Beauty

Directed by: Allison Inman

Styles change, but one generation of women still gets their hair done once a week. This poetic portrait captures an unhurried ritual that’s as much about human connection as it is about looking your best for church on Sunday. It bottles a process that will pass with a generation.

Best Tennessee Student Short:  Muggy

Directed by: Phynley Joel

Newly moved to the US from New Zealand, 12 year old Muggy struggles to feel truly at home in a place so different from what she’s always known. She misses the land, the rugby, the trees – everything. Unbeknownst to her dad (who thinks she’s in school) Muggy sets off into the snow-covered wilderness, experiencing winter as she never has, and finally is able to return ‘home’ with a new sense of belonging.

NextGen Short:  Strike

Directed by: Olivier Côté

Hoping to impress a group of rowdy classmates, 17-year-old Jules invites them to his family’s bowling alley. But when the debauchery descends into chaos, he must find the courage to defy them.

Best Episodic Pilot:  Cary in Retrograde

Directed by Priya & Philipp Yaw Domfeh

Cary In Retrograde is a musical dramedy that follows its titular character, Cary, as he trudges through a surrealist Los Angeles while coping with Millennial burnout, disappointment, and life in your 30s as a failed artist.

Best Episodic Series:  If I’m Alive Next Week

Created by Jennifer Morris, Robbie Sublett

When a foul-mouthed, 80-year-old grandma gets dumped and booted from her boyfriend’s brownstone, she’s forced to return to the rent-stabilized apartment housing her broke-ass, ungrateful kids. Overnight she finds herself navigating preschool politics, negotiating roommate contracts, and bunking with a six-year-old all while staring down the barrel of her own mortality. A loosely autobiographical digital series that asks — can you really reimagine your life on the cusp of its twilight?

Best Virtual Reality Film:   A Promise Kept

Directed by Ken Winikur, Director; Ariel Efron, Creative Director; Chris Healer, VR Director

In 1944, during the Second World War, thirteen-year-old Fritzie Fritzshall, her mother, and her two younger brothers were arrested at gunpoint and deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau killing center. From her darkest memories to the sparks of humanity that allowed her and others to survive, it is a story that will captivate, move, and inspire you, ensuring Fritzie’s promise is kept for generations to come.

Audience Choice Winner:  The Fable Of A Song

Directed by Andy Strohl

Where do songs come from? How does a song get written? Laurel Wright and Wes Lunsford are songwriters determined to make it big in Nashville, Tennessee alongside thousands of talented musicians. Manager Patryk Larney decides to shoot some footage of Laurel, Wes and cowriter Dean Fields to use for a short social media video and entrusts the editing process to good friend and filmmaker, Andy Strohl. Before one frame can be edited, Wes and Laurel’s lives change in the blink of an eye.

Three years later the entire tragic story is finally told by weaving the footage from the cowriting sessions, archival film and interviews with songwriters, musicians and thinkers. A song can become something much more different than the writer’s intent. This is the story of The Young Fables and this is The Fable of a Song.

View 2021 Nashville Film Festival film guide.

  • Best Drama Feature Script LONG WAY HOME, written by Jamaal Pittman
  • Best Comedy Feature Script RAT BASTARDS, written by Keri Lee
  • Best Horror Feature Script EREBUS, written by Martin Aguilera
  • Best Genre Feature Script GUACAMOLE YESTERDAYS, written by Hudson Phillips
  • Best Short Script I AM A GENTLEMAN, written by Nicky Calloway
  • Best Hour Pilot Script CUFFING SEASON, written by Jon Bershad
  • Best Hour Pilot Script HARD RICE, written by Mary Nguyen
  • Best Tennessee Writer LEG, written by Kd Amond and Sarah Zanotti