Makeout with Violence, a locally produced and directed work that merges a love story with a psychological drama plus plenty of gore, took the top jury prizes at the 40th Nashville Film Festival (NaFF), which concluded Thursday.
The jury comprised of nationally known film critic Elvis Mitchell (who is also part of the creative team responsible for the seminal productions The Black List, Vols. One and Two), Filmspecific.com’s Stacey Parks, and noted director Claudia Weill (her movie Girlfriends was among this year’s entries) unanimously selected Makeout With Violence as the winner of the Regal Cinemas Dreammaker Award for the best narrative feature.
Directed by the Deagol Brothers and co-written with Cody DeVos and Eric Lehning (also part of the cast), Makeout with Violence, which was mostly shot in and around Nashville over a two-year period, also took the Tennessee Independent Spirit Award for a feature length film. The Non-Commissioned Officers, who served as soundtrack composers, won honors for Best Music in a Feature Film.
Distinguished character actor Hal Holbrook received the Nashville Film Festival Lifetime Achievement Award before the screening of his film That Evening Sun April 19. Holbrook accepted the Governor’s award on behalf of his wife Dixie Carter. Star Trek and Boston Legal star William Shatner was given the 2009 President’s Impact Award by NaFF board president Stacy Widelitz and Gibson CEO Henry Juskiewicz before the world premiere of Gonzo Ballet April 17. The film documented the making of a ballet based on selections from the Shatner CD Has Been produced by Ben Folds.
Shatner received a Gibson guitar hand-painted by artist Mandy Lawson and told a sold-out house that “I now plan to take lessons and really learn how to play the guitar.”
Mai Iskander’s Garbage Dreams won the REEL Current Award for a film that provides extraordinary insight into a contemporary global issue. Former Vice President Al Gore, a Nobel Prize and Oscar Award winner, made the selection and also gave Iskander the award.
Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi’s Youssou Ndour: I Bring What I Love won the Impact of Music Award. Yulene Olaizola’s Shakespeare and Victor Hugo’s Intimacies won the Best Feature Documentary as well as Best Feature-Length Film Directed by a Woman. Law and Order: Criminal Intent star Vincent D’Onofrio, who walked the red carpet April 17th, won a Special Jury Prize for Acting in The Narrows, while the cast of Children of Invention received the Special Jury Prize for Acting Ensemble.
The great director Les Blank, whose films have captured a wide range of American musical and cultural figures since the late '60s, received the Coleman Sinking Creek Award.
Special Jury Prizes for Cinematography and Experimental Storytelling were awarded to Seamus Tierney for The Narrows and Antonio Campos for Afterschool, respectively. Kimberly Reed’s Prodigal Sons took the Special Jury Prize for Bravery in Storytelling, while Adam Petrofsky’s Witness from the Balcony of Room 306 won the Best Short Documentary award and Denis Villeneuve’s Next Floor won Best Short Narrative.
Giancarlo Esposito’s directorial debut, Gospel Hill, won the Rosetta Miller Perry Award from Best Black Filmmaker, while Alison Reid’s The Baby Formula won the GLBT Film Award. Don Hertzfeldt’s I Am So Proud of You won Best Animated Short, while Amy Gebhardt’s Walnut won the Golden Opportunity Award for the Best College Student Short. Arni Beinteinn Arnason won Best Young Filmmaker for Eye for an Eye.
Audience award winners will be announced later Thursday, along with final figures. Preliminary estimates indicate the festival will set an attendance record for the sixth year in a row. The opening film 500 Days of Summer sold out two theatres, while William Shatner’s Gonzo Ballet and Rock Prophecies were other early sellout entries. A 40th anniversary retrospective showing of Easy Rider concludes the festival Thursday evening.