NaFF rolling out red carpet for notable, noteworthy

Thursday, April 16, 2009 at 1:00am

The 2009 edition of the Nashville Film Festival (NaFF) gets underway in earnest this weekend at the Regal Green Hills Cinema, with red carpet events, world premiere screenings and parties marking the 40th anniversary of what’s become a major event attracting film lovers from not only across the South but the nation and the world.

This year some 250 plus films of all types will be screened from Thursday to April 23. There are features and documentaries, shorts, comedies, dramas, music-related works, gritty urban narratives and classics — in short something for every conceivable taste.

The event is poised to break last year’s record attendance of 22,000, even with the current economic downturn.

The festival begins with a screening of 500 Days of Summer co-starring Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. The film’s director Marc Webb is scheduled to attend.

Harmony Korine and Todd Snider will be attending the double feature The Lonely and Peace Queer, while director Pepita Ferrari is slated to appear at Capturing Reality: The Art of Documentary Film Making.

The NaFF 2009 Opening Night Party follows the screenings at 9 p.m. in the VIP Tent on the lower level of the Regal Green Hills Cinema.

The world premiere showing of William Shatner’s Gonzo Ballet gets underway Friday with a red carpet arrival that begins at 5:30 p.m. Shatner, producer/performer Ben Folds, Milwaukee Ballet director Margo Sappington, and directors Patrick Buckley and Kevin Layne will be among stars on the carpet.

Also scheduled to appear will be Nashville mayor Karl Dean, Law & Order: Criminal Intent star Vincent D’Onofrio (who’s in the film The Narrows), Poundcake actors Troy Hall, Jay O. Sanders (currently featured in the films Revolutionary Road, Cadillac Records), Kevin Logie, Deshja Driggs-Hall and director Rafael Monserrate, and legendary director Les Blank.

Country music superstar Brad Paisley will introduceGonzo Ballet at 7 p.m.

There will be red carpet screenings Saturday for That Evening Sun and two films with strong music backdrops, Noble Things and Rock Prophecies.

NaFF Lifetime Achievement honoree and multiple Oscar nominee and Emmy winner Hal Holbrook, who is part of the cast in That Evening Sun, will be on the 4:30 red carpet. He will be joined by castmates Walton Goggins (Miracle at St. Anna), Ray McKinnon (Deadwood) and director Scott Teems.

Rock Prophecies subject and world-class photographer Robert King as well as principal film subject Tyler Bryant and director John Bryant and Clerks actor Brian O’Halloran (Dante) are also on the 4:30 red carpet.

Actors Michael Parks and Brett Moses (also Noble Things co-director) along with Grammy-winning vocalist Lee Ann Womack, Dominique Swain (Lolita, Face/Off), co-director Dan McMellen and soundtrack producer Clay Walker will be on the 7:30 p.m. red carpet.

The opening weekend also features a pair of screenwriting workshops at Lipscomb University. Award-winning screening Gordy Hoffman, founder and judge of the BlueCat Screenplay Competition, brings his nationally recognized workshop to the NaFF. For more details, visit

Emmy nominee and producer Debra Martin Chase and prolific actor Giancarlo Esposito will be attending the Black Film Maker Celebration Saturday. WTVF-5’s Lelan Statom will host the celebration and Esposito will introduce the film Gospel Hill, which co-stars Danny Glover, Angela Bassett and Samuel L. Jackson along with Giancarlo (who also directed). The film screening stars at 5 p.m.

Without A Trace star Marianne Jean-Baptiste will be featured in Ink, one of a trio of short films spotlighting African American life being screened on Wednesday beginning at 3:30 p.m.