Film Forward Nashville: Moving and Inspiring

When the Film Forward program set out for Nashville almost two weeks ago, I was elated to be part of the team. I had never spent much time in the South and wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but having worked with The Belcourt on multiple Sundance projects, I knew I would be in for a treat.

Outside the Belcourt Theater. Photo by Jacqueline Carlson.

When the Sundance Institute Art House Project was launched in 2005 to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of Sundance Institute and pay tribute to Art House theatres nationwide, The Belcourt was one of the first theaters we asked to join and they’ve been one of our Sundance Film Festival U.S.A. locations since the program debuted two years ago. Stephanie Silverman, Toby Leonard, and Allison Inman make The Belcourt a warm and wonderful place for all who are lucky enough to access their phenomenal programming.

Audience members enjoy tasty treats graciously provided by the Kurdish restaurant, Shish Kabob, in Nashville, TN, prior to the La Mission screening at the Belcourt. Photo by Jacqueline Carlson.

But we didn’t only stop at The Belcourt we also held events at the Oasis Youth Opportunity Center, the Edmonson Pike Library, and the Frist Center for the Visual Arts where very diverse groups were inspired and engaged in the films and conversations that took place afterwards. Producer Isabelle Stead’s Son of Babylon screening at The Belcourt brought out Nashville’s Kurdish community, the largest in the United States, and moved not only many in the audience but also myself to tears. At the Frist UDAAN screening, an audience member had wandered into the screening room on her way to an exhibit and wasn’t sure if she wanted to stay, but decided to take a seat and emerged from the film transformed and so grateful to have had the opportunity. Seeing the LGBT youth at Oasis Center have the opportunity to not only see a film depicting what many of them had recently gone through but to also have the chance to discuss the film and their own experiences with director, Peter Bratt was an emotional experience that I will cherish. I feel so lucky to have been there and share in these beautiful moments that showed me the transformative power of the Film Forward program. 

Nashville is truly a wonderful place. I can’t say enough kind words about the remarkable people I met at every turn and I was tremendously moved by the Film Forward program and the phenomenal work of our local partners. It’s because of Film Forward and the great work of these organizations and others like them that independent film continues to live and has the ability to change and shape people’s perspectives and lives.

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