Thursday, April 16, 2009

Nashville Film Festival turns 40; see one of these three movies

A documentary screening of A Class Apart tonight at Vanderbilt Law School just happens to take place on the first day of the 40th Nashville Film Festival.

The Festival has too many movies to review here, many of them tied to Hispanic subjects or filmmakers in one way or another, so I recommend you avoid the stress by skipping the Festival tonight and checking out A Cass Apart (5:30 pm, Vanderbilt Law School), about a historic Supreme Court case and Latino discrimination in the Southwest.

As for the Festival, support them fully the entire rest of the weekend, and see at least one of these two movies: No Boundaries (7pm Monday April 20), about a South American illegal immigrant in Philadelphia (and featuring former Nashvillian Mark McGraw), and I'm Gonna Explode (7:30 pm Tuesday April 21), from Mexican director Gerardo Naranjo.

Jim Ridley of the Scene uses the words "coolest movie ever" in his review of I'm Gonna Explode. No Boundaries is reviewed on the Scene's massive movie recap page here.

The screening of A Class Apart will be in the Renaissance Room of the Vanderbilt Law School tonight at 5:30pm and will feature a post-screening discussion featuring Gregg Ramos and Renata Soto. The event is free. The following synopsis was provided:
In the tiny town of Edna, Texas, in 1951, field hand Pete Hernandez murdered tenant farmer Joe Espinosa after exchanging words in a gritty cantina. From this unremarkable small-town murder emerged a landmark civil rights case that would forever change the lives and legal standing of tens of millions of Americans. "A Class Apart" tells the little-known story of a band of underdog Mexican-American lawyers who took their case, Hernandez v. Texas, all the way to the Supreme Court, where they successfully challenged Jim Crow-style discrimination against Mexican-Americans.

In the landmark case, defense lawyers forged a daring legal strategy, arguing that Mexican-Americans were "a class apart" and did not neatly fit into a legal structure that recognized only blacks and whites. As legal skirmishes unfolded, the lawyers emerged as brilliant, dedicated, humorous and at times terribly flawed men. This film dramatically interweaves the story of its central characters -- activists and lawyers, returning veterans and ordinary citizens, murderer, and victim -- within the broader history of Latinos in America during a time of extraordinary change.
The A Class Apart screening is presented by the Nashville Chapter and the Vanderbilt University Law School Student Chapter of the American Constitution Society, Active Voice, the American GI Forum of the United States, Equal Justice Society, Conexion Americas, the Hispanic National Bar Foundation, LatinoJustice PRLDEF, Tennessee Immigrant & Refugee Rights Coalition, Latino Public Broadcasting, Public Broadcasting System and the Vanderbilt University Law School Chapter of the Latin American Law Students Association.

No Boundaries is summarized in this press release:
No Boundaries, LLC is thrilled to announce its official selection in the Nashville Film Festival which will take place from April 16th to the 23rd 2009, for its independent feature film, No Boundaries), directed by Jake Willing and Violet Mendoza. Nashville Film Festival celebrates its 40th anniversary this year. With over 22,000 people attending the 2008 festival, it is one of the best-known arts events in Tennessee and is the biggest, most international film festival in the mid-South. “This is a festival built on 40 years of dedication to both the craft of filmmaking and the diverse interests of this community,” says Artistic Director, Brian Owens. No Boundaries, filmed in the beautifully diverse locations of the Greater Philadelphia Region, contains edgy and original cinematography. The film has an original score and features music from various talented independent musicians from the Philadelphia area. No Boundaries showcases the talent of former Nashville resident, Mark McGraw, who plays the male lead role of “Christopher Fox”, an immigration agent, who falls in love with “Isabel Moreno”, played by Dani Garza, who makes her feature film debut. Isabel makes a treacherous journey from her home in South America to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in a desperate attempt to save her ailing mother. In one magical moment, Christopher’s eyes meet those of Isabel’s, changing their lives forever. Christopher’s unlikely love affair with Isabel puts them both at great risk. Isabel is forced to choose between true love and survival in her new country.

McGraw states, “I’m so excited. Nashville has been a special place for me to visit and live over the years. And now, I’m happy that the film No Boundaries will have the opportunity to visit Nashville as an official selection of the Nashville Film Festival. This city has always been full of such talented artists and I’m just thrilled to be invited to the party!”

Mendoza adds, “What an honor to be accepted into one of the top film showcases in the world, a dream come true! It is a great tribute to the cast and crew as well as the unseen heroes of this film: the musicians. ‘Music City’ here we come!”

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