Ahead of its highly-anticipated 50thAnniversary taking place October 3-12, 2019, the Nashville Film Festival (NashFilm) has just revealed the selections for its Documentary Features Program. This year’s films take viewers deep into America’s mental health crisis, examine LGBTQ issues through unexpected perspectives, go behind the scenes in the final years of the late comedian Ralphie May, and offer a dynamic trio of socially relevant sports documentaries.

Selections include¬†Ernie & Joe, a personal look at how two San Antonio police officers are helping citizens receive much-needed mental health services, as well as¬†Bedlam, a journey into the facilities that provide mental health care. In¬†Gay Chorus: Deep South, director David Charles Rodrigues chronicles the emotional journey of the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus through the southern U.S. in order to transform hearts and minds – both of the locals and of the chorus members themselves. Also chosen for this category is the world premiere of¬†What’s Eating Ralphie May?, a raw portrait of comedian Ralphie May’s struggles with weight and addiction and his family’s desperate attempt to save him.

“Our documentary lineup this year covers a diverse range of topics and human perspectives from across the globe,” said Lauren Ponto, programming manager of the Nashville Film Festival. “Our documentaries capture fascinating and insightful stories that range from inspirational to heartbreaking. We are looking forward to bringing this expansive lineup of extraordinary films to the Nashville community.”

The Documentary Features category will also feature Rewind, Dark Suns, Seahorse, Changing the Game, Baracoa, 17 Blocks, Red Dog, What We Left Unfinished, Stuffed, Homemade, The Hottest August, I, Pastafari: A Flying Spaghetti Monster Story, Making Coco: The Grant Fuhr Story, and The Tony Alva Story.




ERNIE & JOE, directed by Jenifer McShane. Ernie & Joe follows two officers with the San Antonio Police Department mental health unit who are diverting people away from jail and into mental health treatment Рone 911 call at a time.


BEDLAM,¬†directed by Kenneth Paul Rosenberg. An intimate journey into America’s mental health crisis.


REWIND, directed bySasha Joseph Neulinger. In his candid memoir, Sasha Joseph Neulinger revisits his childhood and the events that tore apart his seemingly-perfect world.


DARK SUNS, directed Julien Elie. A towering investigation into decades of the disappeared in Mexico.


SEAHORSE,¬†directed by¬†Jeanie Finlay.¬†Freddy, a gay transgender man, is 30 and yearns to start a family, but this poses unique challenges. Deciding to carry his own baby took years of soul searching, but he was unprepared for the reality of pregnancy, both physically and challenging society’s fundamental understanding of gender and family.


GAY CHORUS: DEEP SOUTH,¬†directed by David Charles Rodrigues.¬†In response to a wave of discriminatory anti-LGBTQ laws in Southern states and the divisive 2016 election, the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus embarks on a tour of the American Deep South. Joined by allies The Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir, they bring a message of music, love, and acceptance to communities and individuals confronting intolerance. The journey brings them into people’s homes, churches and concert halls, for a celebration of the power of music to unite us in a time of difference.


CHANGING THE GAME, directed by Michael Barnett. Transgender high school athletes from across the country challenge the boundaries and perceptions of fairness and discrimination.


BARACOA, directed by Pablo Briones.In a quiet Cuban village, Leonel, an introspective boy, contemplates change as his older friend Antuán moves to the city.


17 BLOCKS,¬†directed by Davy Rothbart.In 1999, nine-year-old Emmanuel Sanford-Durant and his family began filming their daily lives in America’s most dangerous neighborhood – just 17 blocks behind the U.S. Capitol. They’ve been filming ever since.


RED DOG,directed by Luke Dick. Songwriter Luke Dick spent his toddler years living in OKC’s most notorious strip club, the Red Dog, with his mother – a dope-addicted teenaged runaway who made a living stripping with a fake I.D. Now 30 years later, Luke has little kids of his own. As he begins asking his mom questions about what the hell she was thinking back then, she turns out to be more hilariously forthcoming than he ever imagined.


WHAT WE LEFT UNFINISHED,¬†directed by¬†Mariam Ghani.What We Left Unfinishedis the mostly-true story of five unfinished feature films from the Communist era in Afghanistan and the people who went to crazy lengths to keep making films in a time when films were weapons, filmmakers became targets, and the dreams of political regimes merged with the stories told onscreen. Archival fictions, present-day recollections, and Afghanistan’s both imagined and real collide in a film that reminds us that nations are inventions, and films can reinvent them.


STUFFED, directed by Erin Derham. Told through the eyes and hands of acclaimed artists across the world, the film explores the diverse subculture of taxidermy where sculptors must also be scientists, seeing life where others only see death.


HOMEMADE, directed by Jason Maris and Danielle Bernstein.Groundbreaking, intimate and durational, Homemadeis a six-year journey following combat wounded and highly decorated Force Reconnaissance Marine Adam Sorensen as he navigates life after war.


THE HOTTEST AUGUST, directed by Brett Story. A complex portrait of a city and its inhabitants, The Hottest Augustexamines the collective consciousness of the present.


I, PASTAFARI: A FLYING SPAGHETTI MONSTER STORY,¬†directed by¬†Mike Weeks.¬†With millions of believers worldwide, The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster is the world’s fastest growing religion. This film chronicles the faith’s unlikely beginnings and its fight to be recognized as a real religion.


MAKING COCO: THE GRANT FUHR STORY,¬†directed by¬†Don Metz.Grant Fuhr was the first black superstar in hockey. He won 403 regular season NHL games and is a member of the 2003 class of the Hockey Hall of Fame. Making Coco is the story of Fuhr’s life on and off the ice


WHAT’S EATING RALPHIE MAY?,¬†directed by¬†Cat Rhinehart.¬†Filmmaker Cat Rhinehart spends a year closely following comedian Ralphie May, leading up to his planned weight loss surgery. What is intended to be a weight loss documentary instead becomes a raw and intimate portrait of a family dealing with addiction, a wife coming to terms with her inability to save the person she loves, and a tragically flawed comedian breaking down during one of the last years of his life.


THE TONY ALVA STORY,¬†directed by¬†Coan Buddy Nichols and Rick Charnoski.¬†The Tony Alva Storychronicles T.A.’s humble beginnings on the streets of Santa Monica to his rise to superstardom as part of the legendary Z-Boys, his inevitable drug-induced implosion, and his ultimate rise from the ashes to accept his rightful place as a beacon of hope and inspiration for generations of skateboarders the world over.


The Nashville Film Festival previously announced¬†International Falls, the world premiere of the civil rights era coming-of-age story¬†Tuscaloosa,Speed of Life,¬†Babysplitters,¬†Barbie’s Kenny,¬†Working Man,¬†Inside The Rain,and¬†Hudsonas films selected for theU.S. Independents category. Along with a return to the festival’s Music City roots with the world premiere of¬†Chuck Berryby filmmaker Jon Brewer;¬†Born Into the Gigby filmmakers Kate Davis and David Heilbroner;¬†Cool Daddio: The Second Youth of R. Stevie Moorefrom filmmakers Imogen Putler and Monika Baran; and¬†The Sheriff of Marsfrom filmmakers Jason Ressler and Matthew Woolf for the music documentary.¬†¬†Additional programming announcements for Nashville Film Festival’s 50thAnniversary will continue until the end of September.

Written By
More from Dev Shapiro