I handle PR for both Nashville Public Television and Nashville Film Festival, and occasionally, there are wonderful times when the line between the two blurs, and I can talk about both in the same breath. Some of the finest documentaries that play the Festival often wind up airing on NPT, whether because of a local connection, or via national shows such as Independent Lens and P.O.V. During the 2009-10 Independent Lens season, two films that have played the Festival in recent years will be broadcast, Young@Heart, a winner of the 2008 Impact of Music Award at the Festival; and Garbage Dreams, winner of the 2009 Reel Current Award Presented by Al Gore at the Festival. What makes this broadcast season even more exciting, is that both of these films are also part of our free ITVS Community Cinema series at the downtown Nashville Public Library, where you get to see advance screenings of the films a full month, and sometimes more, before they’re broadcast. Mai Iskander’s Garbage Dreams, a film that Gore says “makes a compelling case that modernization does not always equal progress,” will screen at the Library on Saturday, January 23, and in a subsequent post, I’ll write more about it and its amazing journey from Egypt, through the festival circuit and Nashville, and to the attention of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
But first things first. This Saturday, December 12 at 3:00 p.m. (2:30 lite reception) at the Nashville Public Library Main branch downtown, it’s Stephen Walker’s wonderful, entertaining, inspiring and life-affirming Young@Heart. The film chronicles seven unforgettable weeks in the lives of the members of the Young@Heart Chorus as they prepare for a one-night-only concert in their hometown of Northampton, Massachusetts. Guided by longtime director Bob Cilman, the group is made up of two dozen spirited seniors—former schoolteachers, executives, doctors and food service workers—who specialize in reinterpreting rock, punk and R&B classics from their unique perspective.
With less than two months to go until the concert, the performers struggle with the new lyrics and unfamiliar melodies of seven new songs. During their thrice-weekly rehearsals, they gradually take possession of music ranging from R&B classics like Allen Toussaint’s “Yes We Can Can” to Coldplay’s emotionally powerful ballad “Fix You,” upending assumptions about old age, love, sex and death.
I don’t think I can accurately express how wonderful this film is. It’s often the documentary films with what seem like off-the-wall premises that are the most satisfying. The ones that seems just slightly askew that wind up being the least askew of all. If I told you a documentary about a heavy metal band from the early eighties that opened for The Scorpions and Judas Priest but never made it, and is still trying to make it, would be one of the most moving documentary films you’d ever see, would you believe me? Try Anvil! The Story of Anvil. If I told you a film about a senior citizen’s chorus covering The Clash and The Ramones is one of the most inspiring films about life and the power of music, and the value of continuing to push yourself to get up every morning and take advantage of the life you have, would you believe me? Go see Young@Heart.
One warning. Young@Heart is almost guaranteed to make you cry. Everyone I know that has seen it has cried. So be sure bring some tissues, or a sleeve. It’ll be worth it, though. Some cries are good ones.
Be sure to stick around after the screening, for a special performance from some of Nashville’s most talented singers and dancers over 60, finalists from this year’s Silver Stars talent competition presented by HealthSpring. Silver Stars is an annual competition hosted by Billy Block to showcase the talents of older adults in Nashville.
It’s going to be a great Saturday afternoon at the Library. Come on down an join us for a lite reception 2:30 and film at 3:00. Did I mention it’s free?
The Main Library is located at 615 Church Street.