NashFilm Festival Announces Narrative Features, New Director Features and Documentary Features Competitions

by NashFilm

The Nashville Film Festival announces its official program selections for its Narrative Features, New Director Features and Documentary Features Competition programs for the 51st edition of the festival, taking place virtually from October 1-7, 2020. 

Selections for the Narrative Features competition include A Perfectly Normal Family, Contactado, Cowboys, Electric Jesus, Kuessipan, Materna, Minyan, One of These Days, Our Own and The Outside Story. Selections for the New Director Features competition include A Dog’s Death (La Muerte de un Perro), Milkwater, Moving On, Raf, Tahara and The Night of the Beast (La Noche de la Bestia). Selections for the Documentary Features competition include Born To Be, Finding Yingying, Medicine Man: The Stan Brock Story, Sapelo, The Donut King, The Mystery of D.B. Cooper, The Reunited States, Two Gods, We Don’t Deserve Dogs and Wildflower. The films represent a diverse range of stories from across the world and a variety of backgrounds and perspectives. 

“These films span 14 countries and a range of complex narrative and real life stories,” said Lauren Ponto, programming manager of the Nashville Film Festival. “Connection is more important now than ever, and each of these films and their characters and subjects offers people a sense of community, comfort and perspectives through a lens they may not have seen before.” 

 

NARRATIVE FEATURES COMPETITION PROGRAM 

 

A Perfectly Normal Family, directed by Malou Reymann

Synopsis: Emma (11) has a perfectly normal family until one day it turns out her dad, Thomas, is transgender. As Thomas becomes Agnete, both father and daughter struggle to hold on to what they had, while accepting that everything has changed.

Cast: Kaya Toft Loholt, Mikkel Boe Følsgaard, Rigmor Ranthe, Neel Rønhol 

Premiere Status: Tennessee Premiere

Country: Denmark 

 

Contactado, directed by Marite Ugas 

Synopsis: ALDO, a reclusive man, is enticed by a young man, who claims to be a follower, into preaching again. He is weary of reliving his past as a Contactee, the leader of a famous UFO cult. When vanity overcomes his fear, the ambitious young man will turn the tables on him. 

Cast: Baldomero Cáceres, Miguel Dávalos

Premiere Status: Southeast Premiere 

Country: Peru 

 

Cowboys, directed by Anna Kerrigan 

Synopsis: In rural Western Montana, a troubled but well-intentioned father tries to liberate his young transgender son by taking him to Canada. 

Cast: Steve Zahn, Jillian Bell, Sasha Knight, Ann Dowd, Gary Farmer, Chris Coy, John Reynolds, Bob Stephenson 

Premiere Status: Southeast Premiere 

Country: USA 

 

Electric Jesus, directed by Chris White

Synopsis: Alabama preacher’s daughter runs off with a touring Xian hair metal band during the summer of 1986. 

Cast: Brian Baumgartner, Judd Nelson, Andrew Eakle, Shannon Hutchinson, Wyatt Lenhart, Gunner Willis, Will Oliver, Caleb Hoffmann 

Premiere Status: Tennessee Premiere

Country: USA 

 

Kuessipan, directed by Myriam VERREAULT 

Synopsis: 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. 

Cast: Sharon FONTAINE-ISHPATAO, Yamie GRÉGOIRE, Étienne GALLOY, Cédrick AMBROISE, Caroline VACHON, Mike INNU PAPU MCKENZIE, Douglas GRÉGOIRE, Brigitte POUPART 

Premiere Status: Tennessee Premiere

Country: Canada 

 

Materna, directed by David Gutnik

Synopsis: A closely observed psychological portrait of four women, whose lives are bound together by an incident on the New York City subway.

Cast: Kate Lyn Sheil, Jade Eshete, Assol Abdullina, Lindsay Burdge, Rory Culkin, Sturgill Simpson, Michael Chernus

Premiere Status: Southeast Premiere 

Country: USA

 

Minyan, directed by Eric Steel 

Synopsis: In 1980s Brooklyn, a Russian Jewish teenager wrestles with his identity, faith, and sexuality, all of which seem irreconcilable until he befriends two closeted men in his grandfather’s senior housing complex.  

Cast: Samuel H. Levine, Ron Rifkin, Christopher McCann, Mark Margolis, Richard Topol, Brooke Bloom, Alex Hurt 

Premiere Status: Tennessee Premiere

Country: USA 

 

One of These Days, directed by Bastian Günther 

Synopsis: In a small US southern town, the annual ‘Hands On’ endurance contest offers the chance of a lifetime to win a brand-new pickup truck. Each contestant has their own reasons for entering, but the true cost of the competition is higher than it appears. 

Cast: Carrie Preston, Joe Cole, Callie Hernandez 

Premiere Status: US Premiere

Country: Germany 

 

Our Own, directed by Jeanne Leblanc

Synopsis: When faced with life’s challenges, Ste-Adeline’s community has always stuck together. But this time, a scandal sends shockwaves through the quiet little town’s very foundation, testing its inhabitants. At the center of the storm are Magalie, a teenager with a girlish pout; Manuel, the foster child of the beloved mayor; and Isabelle and Chantale, the powerless yet protective mothers. In Ste-Adeline, appearances are deceptive. And the town’s carefully maintained social veneer will come to crack, slowly revealing the true nature of its residents.

Cast: émilie Bierre

Premiere Status: Tennessee Premiere

Country: Canada

 

The Outside Story, directed by Casimir Nozkowski 

Synopsis: After locking himself out of his apartment, an introverted, heartbroken editor finds himself on an epic journey up, down and around his block with life-altering ramifications. 

Cast: Brain Tyree Henry, Sonequa Martin-Green, Asia Kate Dillon, Sunita Mani, Olivia Edward Maria Dizzia, Michael Cyril Creighton 

Premiere Status: Tennessee Premiere

Country: USA 

 

NEW DIRECTOR FEATURES COMPETITION PROGRAM 

 

A Dog’s Death (La Muerte de un Perro), directed by Matías Ganz

Synopsis: Silvia and Mario enjoy a bourgeois life in Montevideo, until two events disrupt their peaceful life. A dog surgery goes wrong for Mario and Silvia discovers retirement. They will then be dragged from paranoia to violence and from violence to nonsense. 

Cast: Guillermo Arengo, Pelusa Vidal, Soledad Gilmet, Lalo Rotaveria, Ruth Sandoval, Ana Katz 

Premiere Status: Tennessee Premiere 

Country: Uruguay, France and Argentina

 

Milkwater, directed by Morgan Ingari

Synopsis: Seeking direction and purpose, Milo (Molly Bernard) rashly decides to become a surrogate and egg donor for an older gay man she meets in a bar (Patrick Breen). However, as Milo becomes increasingly attached to him, she starts leveraging the pregnancy as a means of staying embedded in his life. 

Cast: Molly Bernard, Patrick Breen, Robin DeJesus, Jiggly Caliente, Brita Filter, Ava Eisenson, Ade Otukoya 

Premiere Status: Southeast Premiere 

Country: USA 

 

Moving On, directed by YOON Dan-bi 

Synopsis: Okju and Dongju move into their grandpa’s house during their summer vacation after their father went broke. While young Dongju well adapts to his new home, Okju rather feels awkward about this new environment. Soon after their soon-to-be-divorced aunt also moves in, and as Okju spends time with her family, the house and her grandpa are starting to grow on her. However, when her grandpa gets sick, father and aunt decide to send him to the sanatorium and sell the house. 

Cast: CHOI Jung-un, YANG Heung-ju, PARK Hyeon-yeong, PARK Seung-jun 

Premiere Status: US Premiere 

Country: Korea 

 

Raf, directed by Harry Cepka 

Synopsis: In the twilight of her 20s, Raf works two jobs and spends her free time playing board games with her boyfriend’s roommates. Privately, she fantasizes of a life of performance art and dance clubs. Through several chance encounters, Raf makes friends with a charismatic and wealthy woman named Tal. Raf becomes infatuated with Tal’s take-no-prisoners lifestyle. With Tal as her guide, Raf begins to see a new vision of herself, until a humiliating weekend at Tal’s country home reveals the true power balance between them. 

Cast: Grace Glowicki, Jesse Stanley 

Premiere Status: Southeast Premiere 

Country: Canada 

 

Tahara, directed by Olivia Piece

Synopsis: A queer, coming-of-age drama set in Rochester, NY about an anxious teen girl who is manipulated into a romantic encounter with her best friend during the funeral service of their former Hebrew school classmate. 

Cast: Madeline Grey DeFreece, Rachel Sennott, Daniel Taveras, Shlomit Azoulay, Bernadette Quigley 

Premiere Status: Tennessee Premiere 

Country: USA 

 

The Night of the Beast (La Noche de la Bestia), directed by Mauricio Leiva Cock 

Synopsis: Using some of Iron Maiden’s most famous tracks, such as Aces High or The Trooper, Mauricio Leiva-Cock tells the story of two young metalheads coasting aimlessly through Bogota’s alleys on the day of Iron Maiden’s first-ever concert in Colombia. Their day is wrecked and their friendship is tested when hoodlums steal their most valued possession: the tickets to see their favorite band perform live. 

Cast: Daniel Reyes, Esteban Galindo, Edna Paredes, Verónica Mosquera, Jairo Vargas, Yaima Morfa 

Premiere Status: US Premiere 

Country: Colombia/Mexico

 

DOCUMENTARY FEATURES COMPETITION PROGRAM 

 

Born To Be, directed by Tania Cypriano 

Synopsis: BORN TO BE follows the work of Dr. Jess Ting at the groundbreaking Mount Sinai Center for Transgender Medicine and Surgery in New York City–where, for the first time ever, all transgender and gender non-conforming people have access to quality transition-related health and surgical care. With extraordinary access, this feature-length documentary takes an intimate look at how one doctor’s work impacts the lives of his patients as well as how his journey from renowned plastic surgeon to pioneering gender-affirming surgeon has led to his own transformation.  

Cast: Jess Ting, Mahogany Phillips, Garnet Rubio, Cashmere Vassor, Jordan Rubenstein, Al Rubenstein, Shawn Kamari Frederick Sr. 

Premiere Status: Southeast Premiere 

Country: USA 

 

Finding Yingying, directed by Jiayan “Jenny” Shi 

Synopsis: After a young Chinese student goes missing on a university campus, her family travels to the U.S. for the first time. While unraveling the mystery of her disappearance, they discover how much her life has touched others.  

Cast: Ronggao Zhang, Yeli Feng, Xiaolin Hou, Xinyang Zhang 

Premiere Status: Southeast Premiere 

Country: USA 

 

Medicine Man: The Stan Brock Story, directed by Paul Michael Angell 

Synopsis: A documentary adventure recounting the incredible life story of British-born Amazonian cowboy turned US TV star, Stan Brock, who sacrificed everything to bring free healthcare to people in need. At once a heart-warming tribute to the unifying power of volunteerism, and an exploration of a perennial outsider’s search for meaning through giving of himself. This film is a challenging and inspirational tale of an unlikely man on an improbable and unwavering mission to resolve one of the biggest social issues of our time; the US healthcare crisis.

Cast: Stan Brock 

Premiere Status: World Premiere 

Country: UK  

 

Sapelo, directed by Nick Brandestini 

Synopsis: 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. 

Cast: Cornelia Walker Bailey 

Premiere Status: Southeast Premiere 

Country: Switzerland  

 

The Donut King, directed by Alice Gu

Synopsis: The Donut King’s story is one of fate, love, survival, hard knocks, and redemption. It’s the rags to riches story of a refugee escaping Cambodia, arriving in America in 1975 and building an unlikely multi-million dollar empire baking America’s favorite pastry, the donut. 

Cast: Ted Ngoy

Premiere Status: Tennessee Premiere

Country: USA 

 

The Mystery of D.B. Cooper, directed by John Dower 

Synopsis: This is the extraordinary tale of the only unsolved commercial airplane hijacking in US history, an audacious heist that has taunted the FBI for decades. This feature-length documentary explores the stories of several key suspects, and the hijacking itself, through first-hand testimony, archive and original drama. 

Premiere Status: Tennessee Premiere 

Country: UK/USA 

 

The Reunited States, directed by Ben Rekhi 

Synopsis: While the country is split into two warring factions, The Reunited States is an urgent documentary that follows four everyday heroes on the difficult journey of bridging our political divides. Along the way, each of these bridge-builders face immense challenges and make incredible sacrifices in their effort to bring both sides of the country together, realizing our divisions run deeper than they ever could have imagined. Based on the book of the same name, the film urges audiences to consider that when it comes to polarization, we are all either part of the problem or part of the solution. 

Cast: Susan Bro, David Leaverton, Erin Leaverton, Steven Olikara, Greg Orman 

Premiere Status: Southeast Premiere 

Country: USA 

 

Two Gods, directed by Zeshawn Ali

Synopsis: Hanif  is  a  Muslim  casket  maker and  ritual  body  washer  in  Newark, NJ  He  mentors two  kids— Furquan,  a  confident  12-  year-old who  comes  from  a  rough  home and  Naz,  a 17-year-old  who  has been  fighting  through  his  own struggles  as  a  young  black  man growing up  in  Newark.  Hardship comes  when  Furquan’s  home  life becomes  more  turbulent  and  Naz gets  caught  up  in  a  serious  arrest. Hanif  fears  he  has  failed  as  a mentor  and  begins  to  fall  into  a downward  spiral. During  each  of  their  darkest moments,  they  take  what  they’ve learned  from  their  pasts  and  from each  other  to  pull  through.  And through  faith,  brotherhood  and redemption  they  find  their purpose. 

Cast: Hanif Muhammad, Furquan Maynard, Nazir Powell 

Premiere Status: Tennessee Premiere 

Country: USA 

 

We Don’t Deserve Dogs, directed by Matthew Salleh 

Synopsis: A contemplative odyssey across our planet, looking at the simple and extraordinary ways that dogs influence our daily lives. People need dogs, and perhaps they need us, but what do humans do to deserve the unconditional love they provide? 

Cast: Akumu Filda, Maarit Haapasaari, Hugh “Shug” Harkness 

Premiere Status: Tennessee Premiere 

Country: USA 

 

Wildflower, directed by Matt Smukler 

Synopsis: A high school honors student and track & field star must decide whether to leave for college or stay at home with her mentally handicapped parents. 

Cast: Christina Stahl, Sheila Stahl, Mike Stahl 

Premiere Status: World Premiere 

Country: USA 

 

Additional programming announcements for Nashville Film Festival’s virtual event will continue through early September. Film stills and logos are available upon request. 

 

Passes and Tickets for the 2020 Nashville Film Festival 

Virtual VIP Festival Badges are now on sale for $125 at www.nashfilm.org. VIP Badges provide unlimited access to all 200+ virtual/online film screenings and exclusive film, music and cultural content. Virtual Music Passes are also available for sale and include access to NashFilm Music Program virtual events and pro mentoring sessions. 

 

Press Credentials

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About Nashville Film Festival 

The Nashville Film Festival (NashFilm) is a globally recognized nonprofit organization and cultural event presenting the best in world cinema, American independent films and documentaries by veteran masters, up-and-coming directors, and first-time filmmakers. With Academy Award® qualifying status, the Nashville Film Festival celebrates innovation, music and the many voices of the human spirit through the art of film. Originally founded in 1969, the Nashville Film Festival is one of the first film festivals in the United States and will host its 51st festival from October 1-7, 2020. For more information, visit www.nashfilm.org