Local festival showcases diverse film and talent

A group of Belmont students arrive on the red carpet for the showing of their PSA premiere at the International Black Film Festival at Belmont University. (photo: Justin Darden)

A group of Belmont students arrive on the red carpet for the showing of their PSA premiere at the International Black Film Festival at Belmont University. (photo: Justin Darden)

Thousands of people from the United States and around the world descended upon Nashville to view dozens of never-before seen independent films and documentaries and to take part in discussions about ways for people to promote their films and gaming along with talking about diversity in entertainment at the annual International Black Film Festival of Nashville on October 5-8.

The film festival, held at Belmont University and Watkins College of Art, Film, and Design, showcased independent short films along with marquee films from the United States and international countries. The film festival started off with the short film Black? about two African American men trying to navigate their way through the acting business and finding out how to deal with casting for acting roles compared to their White counterparts. This was followed by the film Ambition’s Debt, which told the modern updated story of William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. The opening night for IBFFN continued with the screening of the short film The Konichiwa Kid.

IBFFN’s opening night concluded with the screening of the major motion picture Marshall, the true story of Thurgood Marshall and how he rose from an attorney for the NAACP to becoming the first African American judge on the United States Supreme Court. The IBFFN continued on October 6 with panel discussions on the topic of diversity in the entertainment industry and ways people can promote their film and gaming projects. The festival also featured short films such as Happy Hour about the nightclub scene in Downtown Chicago and This Train: The Gospel Sessions, which went behind the scenes of making an album with recording artist Eric Essix. Essix said that the music recording session was such a special moment that the documentary filmed the process of recording the songs for his album. The music soundtrack was a mixture of past and current music.

The second day of IBFFN continued with the feature film The Dunning Man a dark comedy about a guy who was trying to do the right thing but always found himself in troubling situations because of the state of the economy. Michael Clayton, director of the film, said the main character was trying to redeem himself by helping his tenants who lived in the apartment building he owned. Clayton said the response to the film had been very positive and that, when it came to writing the film, the screenwriting did not detail the main character’s goal. He also said the casting process started off as very tense until he became more comfortable with the type of person he wanted for his main character.

Another local film that premiered at IBFFN was the documentary Intentional Healing about the connection between medicine and music. John Stavis, director of the documentary, said the connection could lead to healing people who are seeking medical treatment at the hospital. The documentary also focused on Nashville resident Jessie Boyce. Stavis said that he enjoyed working with Boyce on the project, saying he lived a positive lifestyle and attitude. Stavis said the goal of making the documentary was to make sure people never forgot that Boyce was more than just a patient.

The second night of IBFFN also showed the premiere of the film Buckout Road, which was about three college students working on a documentary project until bad events started occurring related to the legendary New York road. The producer, John Gillespie, said the goal of making the movie was to combine the urban legend with biblical elements that were presented in the movie. He also said the movie had sequences where the story of Buckout Road had dream scenes of both puritanical slavery and a muscle car era scene from the ‘70s.