The 54th annual Nashville Film Festival (NashFilm) kicks off September 28, 2023, with the story of global music icon and survivor Gloria Gaynor. The week-long celebration of film, music and culture, runs from September 28 through October 4. The screening of “Gloria Gaynor: I Will Survive” will take place on Thursday, September 28th at 6:30 pm at the historic Belcourt Theatre. A red carpet event will be held prior to the screening, along with a special Q&A directly following the film with Gloria Gaynor herself and director and Emmy-nominated producer Betsy Schechter, moderated by Bart Millard, the celebrated singer, songwriter and leader of the band MercyMe.
“Gloria Gaynor: I Will Survive” is the story of the disco legend who, for five decades, has inspired millions with her words “I will survive,” but only truly understood the lyrics when she hit rock bottom at age 65. The film centers around ageism, reinvention, the power of faith and a woman who empowers herself to create a magnificent second act.
The inspiring documentary recounts the compelling life story of Gaynor, a woman who battled poverty at a young age, then endured a 25-year traumatic marriage (and divorce) from her husband and manager. The two-time GRAMMY winner shares how a freak accident early in her musical journey turned what could have been a career-ending disaster into a defining moment for one of disco’s most legendary stars.
The film also follows Gaynor as she embarks on her long and unexpectedly difficult journey to write and record her gospel album, “Testimony,” in Nashville, which won Gaynor a second GRAMMY exactly 40 years after her first. Audiences will watch as Gaynor wields her inner drive and undeniable musical talent to change the course of her life. The film blends Gloria’s present-day, 8-year journey with the artist’s unimaginable ups and downs from the past.
“We are honored to be opening the 54th annual festival with the empowering and moving story of one of the world’s most iconic and inspiring artists,” said Nashville Film Festival Programming Director Lauren Thelen. “This film stands for so much more than just surviving an unfortunate experience; it’s about moving through struggles and coming out the other side a stronger and more impactful performer and person, something that resonates with many people here in Music City and across the country.”
Among other films of particular interest: “Black Barbie,” directed by Lagueria Davis, stars starring Beulah Mae Mitchell, Kitty Black Perkins, Stacey Mcbride-Irby, Ashley Blaine-Featherson Jenkins, Gabourey Sidibe and Julissa Calderon. Through intimate access to a charismatic Mattel insider, Beulah Mae Mitchell, “Black Barbie” delves into the cross-section of merchandise and representation as Black women strive to elevate their own voices and stories, refusing to be invisible.
And, “Uncharted,” directed by Beth Aala, stars Alicia Keys, Ayoni, DaVionne, Jean Deaux and more. Produced by Everywoman Studios, filmmaker Beth Aala takes audiences behind the scenes of Alicia Keys’ “She Is The Music” songwriting camp in this revealing look at the music business that focuses on the lack of access and opportunity granted to young black and brown women. The camp’s participants take center stage as they try to break through the industry with the next big hit song. Along the way, Keys shares her struggles in the music industry as well as her dedication to working with and championing opportunities for women in music to help them succeed.
For more information, visit www.nashfilm.org or www.nashvillefilmfestival.org.