Thursday, May 17, 2007


Who will speak out for indie films ‘Orphans’ and ‘Hannah Takes the Stairs’?

On the phone late yesterday with Nashville Film Festival Artistic Director Brian Gordon, talking about the fest’s successful 2007 edition and its creative synergy of its hometown music industry and independent film. (Note: I covered the fest for the online trade "indieWire"). Our conversation soon shifted to the subject of film advocacy and the essential role of festivals like Nashville in providing venues for independent dramas like “Orphans,” Ry Russo-Young’s powerful drama about two adult sisters coming to terms with the death of their parents, and Joe Swanberg’s “Hannah Takes the Stairs,” an improvisational comedy about a young woman (Greta Gerwig, pictured left) incapable of making an emotional commitment.
The Cannes Film Fest is underway; so the allure of red carpet/celebrity moments is more captivating than ever (Didn’t Norah Jones look stunning?). Even Nashville, one of the most laidback festivals around, claims its share of red-carpet frenzy courtesy of Matchbox Twenty front man Rob Thomas in attendance to support his lively and engaging documentary “My Secret Record,” about his battles with his Atlantic Records bosses while recording his 2005 solo album.
Thomas and his screaming fans aside, Nashville is an oasis for low-profile/high-quality films, like Adrian Belic’s documentary “Beyond the Call,” about a group of men who travel the world’s trouble spots helping out people in need.
My question for Gordon, a true lover of film, is what happens when art houses play “The Da Vinci Code” instead of movies like “Hannah Takes the Stairs,” when festivals focus on “Spider-Man 3” instead of “Orphans” and the number of cinematheques, the most alternative of film venues, continue to shrink in size? Gordon did not have an answer other than continuing doing his job for the Nashville Festival.
Advocacy for quality, grass-roots cinema, is my buzzword of the moment and here on the blogosphere, where the majority of film talk rests with superhero blockbusters, it’s more important than ever to promote films like “Beyond the Call,” “Orphans,” and “Hannah Takes the Stairs.” They’ve already played in front of audiences in Nashville, and hopefully, they’ll find their way to you.

Bravo, Steve! The Nashville Film Festival will continue to promote quality, and Brian Gordon is an essential element toward that goal, just as he was essential to this year's festival. Thanks for your support, and I look forward to seeing you at the festival next year!........Best, Stacy Widelitz
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