The Nashville Film Festival turns 50 this year, under a new executive director making his film world debut.
Jason Padgitt was a music industry veteran when he was tapped for the gig last year. It was shortly after the festival’s longtime CEO and artistic director both left — and before its 50th anniversary edition.
“I came in knowing there was a lot to do,” says the former Gibson marketing executive, “and that I was dealing with a clean slate to redirect it anywhere that it could go.”
Padgitt says one of his top priorities was significantly expanding the festival’s footprint: “I heard from many people, both locally and those that have come to the festival in the past, they love the festival but they didn’t get the full experience of Nashville.”
Now, film lovers can compare notes at a new festival hub in the Wedgewood-Houston area, which includes several coffee shops and a brewery. And there’s an event somewhere in the city every night.
Some are intimate affairs, house parties thrown for filmmakers and VIP badge holders only. Others are large-scale bashes, like for the world premiere of a Chuck Berry documentary at Acme Feed & Seed downtown.
As for the films, new programming manager Lauren Ponto says she maintained the festival’s eclectic mix of foreign titles and U.S. independents, while also showcasing more local talent.
“I really tried to give a very broad spectrum of content,” she says, “and also build up the very talented filmmakers that we have here in Nashville.”
Like K.D. Amond, director of “Five Women in the End.” The apocalyptic thriller about a girls’ night gone very bad is making its world premiere, in the Tennessee First Competition.
The festival’s two-day industry conference also returns this week, with panelists including HBO producers, one of Harvey Weinstein’s accusers, and emerging LGBTQ filmmakers.
The Nashville Film Festival runs through Oct. 12 at the Regal Hollywood multiplex.