Here’s a quick-pick, six-pack of intriguing films from the 2009 Nashville Film Festival that should you attend, will, you just shouldn’t miss. For a more general look at the festival, click here.
Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison
Directed by Bestor Cram
Cash’s magnificent Jan. 13, 1968 concert at Folsom Prison was one of those events that smash across artificial barriers and elevate a show from performance into inspirational showcase.
Michael Streissguth’s screenplay and Cram’s expert direction take you behind the scenes, as archival photos and updated shots show how much (or how little) has changed over the past 41 years. Interview subjects range from Cash colleagues and children to former prisoners and guards. It’s an unforgettable, spectacular musical and social presentation.
5 p.m. Sunday, 3:45 p.m. Monday
April 20 – 3:45 p.m.
The Book Lady
Directed by Natasha Ryan
Dolly Parton’s brilliance as a singer, songwriter and actress is universally known and highly respected and admired. But not nearly as many people are aware of her long campaign for children’s literacy, which is the subject of this half-hour Canadian documentary film.
Besides Parton, the film includes her goddaughter Miley Cyrus, Keith Urban, Canadian singer/songwriters Sarah Harmer and Justin Rutledge and American-born Canadian children’s author Robert Munsch. Most importantly, it spotlights Parton’s “Imagination Library.”
6:15 p.m. Tuesday, 8:45 p.m. Wednesday
Crips & Bloods: Made in America
Directed by Stacy Peralta
For those who think gang violence is a new phenomenon, Peralta’s jolting account of the long and bloody battles between Los Angeles gangs the Crips and Bloods shows that their origins date back more than four decades.
Besides detailing the story of how they began and why they’ve become more dangerous over the years, Peralta and fellow screenwriter Sam George show how the convergence of increased accessibility to lethal weapons, stark poverty and a glaring lack of opportunities result in carnage on many streets across the country.
6 p.m. Wednesday; this is a free screening.
Youssou N’Dour: I Bring What I Love
Directed by Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi
Africa’s most popular vocalist, Youssou N’Dour, has been involved in many other global and area struggles regarding copyright and artist property issues, changing values on the continent and the blend of modern and traditional influences in his music. The film documents both the making of his hit disc Egypt and his encounters with Peter Gabriel and Neneh Cherry.
Though not quite a fiery symbol of liberation and anti-colonialism like the late Fela Kuti, N’Dour has been among the few African artists able to consistently enjoy success in both America and Europe.
2 p.m. Friday, 7:15 p.m. Tuesday
Directed by Claudia Weill
If you’ve ever seen or read any of Weill’s interviews, you know she’s both outspoken and quite witty. She returns to Nashville with Girlfriends, a portrait of two women who come of age in New York during the early ‘70s.
It’s a time of change, tumult and adventure, and her film captures that sense, while also offering a great performance from Melanie Mayron (Thirtysomething). Weill will be in town for the screening.
7 p.m. Sunday
Easy Rider 40th anniversary retrospective showing
Directed by Dennis Hopper
It might look rather quaint and even dated today, but this depiction of bike-riding hippies, drug use, conflict and all the other issues of the ‘60s were seen in many circles as outright seditious in 1969.
It certainly turned Peter Fonda into something much more than just the son of a legend, and he’ll be on hand to share some recollections of the film and the times. It’s the perfect film to complete the 40th anniversary edition of the Nashville Film Festival.
7 p.m. April 23