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Nashville Film Festival Wraps

Nashville Film Festival Wraps with Patricia Neal, William H. Macy, Al Gore, Vincent D'Onofrio, Big Kenny and More; Box Office Breaks Records While "Two Embraces," "Shake the Devil Off," "Cook County" and "Sons of Lwala" Win Big
The 39th Nashville Film Festival (NaFF) ended yesterday, smashing all previous attendance and ticket sales records after once again setting up shop for eight days at the Regal Green Hills Cinemas and spreading out throughout city with over 200 films and dozens of events. Steven Schachter's THE DEAL kicked off the festival on Thursday, April 24 with Schachter and the film's star William H. Macy in attendance. The festival closed last night with Denny Tedesco's THE WRECKING CREW and a party at the Cannery Ballroom. In between, festival goers witnessed Al Gore present the Reel Current Award to Michael O'Connell's MOUNTAIN TOP REMOVAL; Lyle Lovett give the 2008 Nashville Lifetime Achievement Award to Patricia Neal; and NaFF board president Stacy Widelitz surprise Kimberly Williams-Paisley with the President's Award.

The 39th Nashville Film Festival (NaFF) ended yesterday, smashing all previous attendance and ticket sales records after once again setting up shop for eight days at the Regal Green Hills Cinemas and spreading out throughout city with over 200 films and dozens of events. Steven Schachter's THE DEAL kicked off the festival on Thursday, April 24 with Schachter and the film's star William H. Macy in attendance. The festival closed last night with Denny Tedesco's THE WRECKING CREW and a party at the Cannery Ballroom. In between, festival goers witnessed Al Gore present the Reel Current Award to Michael O'Connell's MOUNTAIN TOP REMOVAL; Lyle Lovett give the 2008 Nashville Lifetime Achievement Award to Patricia Neal; and NaFF board president Stacy Widelitz surprise Kimberly Williams-Paisley with the President's Award.

Notable guests and events this year included Vincent D'Onofrio, Joey Lauren Adams, Michele Paradise and Robbie Benson discussing actors-turned-filmmakers; country singer Josh Turner and R&B star Anthony Hamilton treating festival VIPs to a showcase at the legendary Bluebird Cafe; legendary songwriter/producer Dennis Lambert giving a last-minute performance at the Bluebird following the well-received screening of OF ALL THE THINGS; Trace Adkins attending a screening of "Trailer Park of Terror," and country star/humanitarian "Big" Kenny Alphin and his wife Christiev introducing the World Premiere of their new documentary BEARING LIGHT: A JOURNEY TO SUDAN.

By the morning of the festival's end, we counted 31 sold-out houses over the course of the event
The big jury award winners were Enrique Begne's TWO EMBRACES, which took home the Nashville Film Festival / Regal Cinemas Dreammaker Award for Best Narrative Feature and Peter Entell's SHAKE THE DEVIL OFF, which snagged the Best Documentary Feature award sponsored by Ground Zero. The audience responded to David Pomes's COOK COUNTY by giving it the Curb Records-sponsored award for Best Narrative Feature, while the inspiring story of the Ochieng' brothers moved festival goers to hand Barry Simmons, SONS OF LWALA the Audience Award For Best Documentary Feature, sponsored By The Documentary Channel. To little surprise, Stephen Walker's moving "Young@Heart" grabbed the Impact of Music Award.

"There was a fantastic vibe at the fest this year that you couldn't miss," says Brian Gordon, NaFF artistic director. "We had some great films that people really responded to. Particularly, some of our Q & A sessions were the most lively and engaging I can remember. Word about films spread fast, too, and we had several sellouts each day. Every filmmaker I spoke with, many of whom had never been in Nashville before, had a great time. They can't wait to come back."

Attendance at the 2008 Festival is estimated at over 22,000 -- a 10% increase over last year. By the fourth day, ticket sales had already surpassed last year's total.

"By the morning of the festival's end, we counted 31 sold-out houses over the course of the event," said Sallie Mayne, NaFF executive director. "The only way we can continue to grow is to add more theatres. Our community partnerships this year were indispensable. We're all beyond thrilled at this year's success."

Please visit nashvillefilmfestival.org for more information.

Hi-resolution photos are available on the Nashville Film Festival Flickr site.

2008 Nashville Film Festival Award Winners

Nashville Film Festival / Regal Cinemas Dreammaker Award: Enrique Begne, "Two Embraces."
Honorable Mention: David Pomes, "Cook County."

Best Documentary Feature (Sponsored By Ground Zero): Peter Entell, "Shake The Devil Off."
Honorable Mention: Lisa Merton & Alan Dater, "Taking Root: The Vision of Wangari Maathai.

Audience Award For Best Narrative Feature (Sponsored By Curb Records): David Pomes, "Cook County."

Audience Award For Best Documentary Feature (Sponsored By The Documentary Channel): Barry Simmons, "Sons Of Lwala."

2008 Nashville Film Festival Lifetime Achievement Award: Patricia Neal.

President's Award: Kimberly Williams-Paisley.

Governor's Award: William H. Macy.

Reel Current Award (Presented By Al Gore): Michael O'Connell, "Mountain Top Removal."

NPT Human Spirit Award (Sponsored By Nashville Public Television): Barry Simmons, "Sons of Lwala."

Best LGBT Film Award (Sponsored By Logo TV): Tie, Tom Gustafson, "Were The World Mine" And Sophie Gregg, "The Manual."

Women In Film & Television Award For Best Film Directed By A Woman (Sponsored By Women In Film & Television Nashville Chapter): Lisa Merton, "Taking Root: The Vision Of Wangari Maathai.

Rosetta Miller Perry Award for the Best Film By A Black Filmmaker (Sponsored By The Tennessee Tribune): Elvis Mitchell, "The Black List"

Lonely Seal Releasing Feature Film Award: Paul Leuer, "Eden Court."

Best Cinematography in a Feature Film (Sponsored By AC, Inc.): David Morrison, "Tracing Cowboys."

Tennessee Independent Spirit Award for the Best Feature-Length Film Directed By a Tennessee Resident (Sponsored By The Tennessee Film, Music And Entertainment Commission): Barry Simmons, "Sons Of Lwala."

Tennessee Independent Spirit Award for the Best Short-Form Directed By a Tennessee Resident (Sponsored By The Tennessee Film, Music And Entertainment Commission): Drew Langer, "Blindsided."

Honorable Mention: Rachel Lawson, John Edgerton, Terrie Lawrence, "A Child Shall Lead Them."

Best Music In A Narrative Feature Film (Sponsored By Naxos of America): Jessica Fogle and Tim Sandusky, "Were the World Mine."

Impact of Music Award: Stephen Walker, "Young@Heart"

Honorable Mention: Denny Tedesco, "The Wrecking Crew."

Honorable Mention: Robbie Cavolina and Ian McCrudden, "Anita O'Day: The Life A Jazz Singer."

Best Documentary Short (Sponsored By Ground Zero): Daniel Robin, "my olympic summer."

Honorable Mention: Tim O'Hara, "Swim For Life."

Best Narrative Short: Spencer Susser, "I Love Sarah Jane."

Honorable Mention: Brett Wagner, "Chief."

Honorable Mention: Nash Edgerton, "Spider."

Golden Opportunity Award For Best College Student Short (Sponsored By Vanderbilt University): Wyatt Garfield & Ed Yonaitis "The Execution Of Solomon Harris."

Honorable Mention: Daniel Robin, "my olympic summer."

Honorable Mention: Sam Goetz, "Bruno."

Best Animated Short: Chris Lavis and Maciek Szczerbowksi, "Madame Tutli-Putli."

Honorable Mention: Josh Raskin, "I Met the Walrus."

Best Experimental Short: Olivo Barbieri, "Sevilla --> ∞ 06."

Young Filmmaker Scholarship Award (Sponsored By Watkins College of Art & Design/Film School): Joseph Procopio, "Western Spaghetti."

Honorable Mention: Roman Dent, "South Africa: From the City, To the Slum, To the Savannah."

Honorable Mention: Ben Clark, Victoria Whitaker, Chris McKie, Andrew Arwood and Andy Fannon, "A Love Story...Kind Of...Well...Not Really."

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