By Gregory Crofton
Days of screenings at Nashville Film Festival 2018 were varied and wonderful. In its 49th year the festival seemed settled in at Regal Hollywood 27, just south of downtown, a venue it relocated to from Green Hills last year.
The standout documentary of the fest was “McQueen,” a 111-minute film about the late fashion designer Alexander McQueen, which is set for wider release in July.
The doc reveals how a working-class bloke from London became world famous for his edgy, innovative style and artistically driven live shows (think robotic arms shooting black and yellow paint on white dress worn by a model spinning in place).
It is a story of the peril that can come with artistic genius and the paranoia that drug abuse, an HIV diagnosis and exhaustion can bring. He designed 14 collections a year at one point. McQueen died from suicide on the eve of his mother’s funeral.
Despite all the grim detail and tragic ends, co-directors Ian Bonhote and Peter Ettedgui have crafted a loving, ornate film that honors McQueen’s complicated and fascinating story. Be sure to check it out when it comes your way.
“A MURDER IN MANSFIELD” was another one of my favorites at NAFF. Produced and directed by Barbara Kopple (awarded an Oscar in 1977 for “HARLAN COUNTY, USA”), this doc is about the murder of Noreen Boyle, mother to a 12-year-old boy named Collier.
It turned out that Collier’s father, a medical doctor based in Ohio, killed 44-year-old Noreen in her home with a blow to the head. The boy was in the house at the time of the murder and his cogent testimony at trial helped convict his father.
The crime left Collier in a horrific situation. He stayed with foster families before leaving for Los Angeles, where he’s lived for 15 years and been able to establish a career in Hollywood.
But can someone really forge a decent life after living through so much violence? Is it possible to maintain a relationship with a narcissistic madman who murdered your mother?
Kopple’s handling of this crime story is deft and never dull, but in lesser hands it could have become work to watch this film. Instead we get to witness its fascinating conclusion in which Collier has returned from Ohio to have one final talk with his imprisoned father. Overall “A MURDER IN MANSFIELD is a solid documentary held together by Kopple’s skill and attention.