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Filmmakers say they're grateful the Nashville Film Festival is back in person this year

Nashville Film Festival
Posted at 4:35 PM, Oct 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-03 00:19:13-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Lance Kramer still remembers the moment when the film industry changed in a flash. "There’s so many things that you kind of grieve missing, one of them for me happened to be going to the movies," said Kramer.

Events like the Nashville Film Festival went digital last year, due to the pandemic. It's safe to say, he missed the moment the house lights went dark, and films played on large screens overhead.

Lance and his brother Brandon created the documentary "The First Step." It shows how CNN Commentator Van Jones lobbied for prison reform during the Trump Administration. "It’s really a story about Van and a team of activists on the left and right who try to bridge party differences to accomplish reform," said Kramer.

While most of the scenes play out elsewhere, there are Tennessee connections. Jones grew up in West Tennessee, so two pivotal scenes take place in Jackson. "It’s that personal, emotional look at someone that you usually just see polished on CNN," said Sarah Haas, a field producer for "The First Step."

When work on the film didn't have Haas on the road, she calls Nashville home. "I’m excited to bring this to my community and just to have a documentary here that has an important message and was made with excellence," she said.

The end of the film brought something Lance had been longing for -- recognition. The crowd gathered at Rocketown gave him and his team big applause. The question and answer portion also gave him the opportunity for immediate feedback. "I think you feel a film differently when there’s people to your left and right and front and behind. I can’t explain it," said Kramer.

It's something, at one point, he thought he had lost in a flash. "One of the things that keeps me going is the idea it would be shared, in person on a screen with people in a room, with people in a community," he said.

Participants can either watch selections in person at various Nashville venues or online. For more information, click here.