Poser directed by Noah Dixon and Ori Segev won Best Narrative Feature, and Bo McGuire’s Socks on Fire won the Best Documentary Feature award at the 52nd edition of Nashville Film Festival.
Opening night film Brian Wilson: Long Promised Road won Best Music Documentary Feature honors, and Nathalie Álvarez Mesén’s haunting Clara Sola won for Best New Directors Feature.
“We’re incredibly proud of this slate of Festival winners,” said Lauren Ponto, Programming Director at Nashville Film Festival. “These films not only represent the best in their category, but they’ve resonated with audiences this week, too. It’s been a joy to see both local Nashville audiences and those joining us virtually discover these gems and embrace them.”
2021 Nashville Film Festival Award Winners
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. McGuire returned home from New York City to Hokes Bluff, Alabama to find that his Aunt Sharon—his favorite childhood relative—had locked her gay, drag-queen brother, his Uncle John, out of the family home. As a queer Southerner who is both protective and skeptical of the South, this family rupture stoked a fire within McGuire to document the place and the people he calls home. 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 in a trilogy of films – Michael Reeves’ Witchfinder General (1968), Piers Haggard’s Blood on Satan’s Claw (1971) and Robin Hardy’s The Wicker Man (1973) – through its proliferation on British television in the 1970s and its culturally specific manifestations in American, Asian, Australian and European horror, to the genre’s revival over the last decade. 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. Amidst rising political repression and cartel violence, as well as the eternal difficulties of travel in the Sonoran Desert, the Aguilas carry out their solemn task. Águilas lays bare the tragic reality of migrant death by venturing deep into the wilderness of the borderlands. The desert is a vast cemetery where the bodies and dried bones of migrants lie exposed under the scorching sun. In a world where efforts to humanize the migrant experience often get lost within the statistics and headlines, this documentary provides an observational and poetic response to one of the most pressing issues of our time, undocumented immigration and the hardships of the border crossing experience.
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. As the woman peers deeper into the invisible, the resurrecting potential of perception helps illuminate the power of how we choose to look and, moreover, how we see.
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. Separated from her mother and brothers during selection, never to see them again, Fritzie survived for months inside one of the Nazi’s most notorious camps. Working as a slave laborer in a nearby factory, Fritzie was imprisoned with 599 other women. Each night the women would share with Fritzie a precious crumb of their bread in the hope that the youngest among them might survive to tell the world what had happened to them. In turn, Fritzie promised that if she survived, she would tell their story. 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.
Nashville Film Festival Screenplay Competition Winners
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