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Nashville Film Festival celebrates 50 years of independent filmmaking

For the 50th year, the Nashville Film Festival proved there’s a lot more to Music City than meets the eye.

The city’s globally-recognized cultural event celebrating veteran and up-and-coming filmmakers took place from Oct. 3 to Oct. 12.

This year was especially noteworthy as six films were directed by Belmont students, five by alumni and one by a current student.

Among these students was alumna Alexa Cambell, whose short film “Dalia,” premiered at the festival on Saturday.

“This is the most Belmont films we’ve ever had in the festival and I think it says a lot about the professors and how great they are at what they’re teaching,” she said.

For Cambell, Belmont’s presence at the Nashville Film Fest accredits the Motion Pictures Department’s ability to feel like a family.

“My favorite part of my film is the credits because all these people put so much time and effort into helping me tell a story that I wanted to tell,” said Cambell.

The family dynamic of the department was evident at Cambell’s premiere. If a student was credited as an actor in one film, their name would be listed as a gaffer or cinematographer in the credits of another. It really spoke to the versatility with which the young program prepares students, and it will only get better, Cambell said.

“For me, I think it’s cool to be a part of something that might have a big name someday,” she said.

In addition to Cambell’s short, films by alumni Brenna Emery, Riley Wymer, Wil Kelly and Ryan Harrelson, and current student Cole Marvin premiered as well.

“There’s a bit of pride that I got into an international film festival that is now an Oscar qualifier,” said Marvin, whose short film “Above Ground, Below Ground (Au-dessus du sol-sous terre)” premiered on Saturday morning.

“I never intended to put it into festivals, but Belmont actually gave me this opportunity,” he said

Riley Wymer, a recent alum, had his short, “Hit by Cars,” premiere on Saturday afternoon. He sees Nashville’s Film Festival as one of the many factors making the city an increasingly desirable place for young filmmakers, calling the city a “national radar for festivals.”

Wymer also spoke to the quality of education he received from the program, seeing Belmont’s rise in accepted submissions as a sign of things to come.

“I’ve been impressed with what the kids below us are doing in Production 1, so I’m sure more and more of the capstones will be getting into the festival each year,” he said.

For alumni like Cambell, collaboration with the university’s professors doesn’t end with graduation.

“I want to keep my relationship with all of my professors. I think it’d be so silly not to, because they’ve helped me so much and I want to continue to learn from them,” she said.

Acclaim for these students’ films doesn’t end in Nashville either.

“I submitted to Los Angeles International Short Film Festival and it actually got nominated for three awards,” said Campbell.

Additionally, Wymer’s “Hit by Cars” was nominated for “Best Comedic Short” by The Short Film Awards in New York.

Ultimately, Belmont has built a film program alumni and students alike are proud of.

“My favorite part is to be able to have an education where I’m not just learning about filmmaking, but I’m learning about the world, because as a storyteller I’m a big believer that you have to have a worldly view before you try and tell people what you think,” said Marvin.

This article written by Ridge Bethea. Contributing reporting by Henry Gregson.

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