In last week's Scene, we previewed the upcoming 2013 Nashville Film Festival's special presentations (led by Jeff Nichols' coming-of-age drama Mud with Matthew McConaughey and Reese Witherspoon, a favorite from this year's Sundance). We also mentioned a few selections in various programs, from new films by Alain Resnais, Carlos Reygadas, Xavier Dolan and Apichatpong Weerasethakul to the much-buzzed horror title Here Comes the Devil, along with some encouraging words about the slate to come:
If last year's festival was marked by a noticeable uptick in Tennessee-generated features — which contributed to an opening night that demolished previous attendance records — this year NaFF artistic director Brian Owens is encouraged by the number of female directors represented in the festival lineup, with four of the 13 films so far in the narrative competition alone made by women. That's four more than Cannes had in its 2012 competition lineup — for which the prestigious festival was criticized the world over.
"This wasn't us reaching out," says Owens, who regularly attends the Toronto and Sundance festivals searching for selections. "I think it really is starting to happen: Women are kicking ass this year." Noting that the NaFF's New Directors program will also have an impressive number of entries by women, he credits the Sundance labs and other outreach programs with progress in nurturing and developing female filmmakers.
Like most festivals, NaFF holds its cards close to its chest about visiting talent and selections until shortly before the event, the better to safeguard against last-minute cancellations and films withdrawn by distributors or snatched by other fests (damn you, Tribeca!). Until last week, the fest's sole announcement for 2013 was a locally unprecedented sidebar program on Kurdish cinema from France to Iran, anchored by Rhino Season, the new film by the Kurdish director best known in the West, Bahman Ghobadi (Turtles Can Fly).
This week the NaFF formally announced its selections in the narrative, documentary, special presentations and music films slots. You'll find established narrative directors such as Joe Swanberg (Hannah Takes the Stairs), Matthew Porterfield (Putty Hill), Hiner Saleem (Vodka Lemon) and Tom Gilroy (Spring Forward); a Roberto Bolano adaptation featuring Rutgar Hauer; and music films concerning everyone from Jim Lauderdale and the St. Thomas Boys Choir Leipzig to Memphis musical outlaw Jerry McGill.
Watch Country Life in coming weeks for more festival announcements and trailers. In the meantime, below you'll find the films announced thus far with festival synopses. Remember those titles when tickets go on sale next month.
Mud (Opening Night)
Director: Jeff Nichols
USA 130 minutes
Cast: Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon, Paul Sparks, Tye Sheridan,
Ray McKinnon, Sarah Paulson, Sam Shepard, Michael Shannon, Joe Don Baker
Ellis and Neckbone (Paul Sparks and Tye Sheridan) are best friends approaching the twilight of their youth. While exploring, they stumble upon the hiding place of charismatic outlaw Mud (Matthew McConaughey), who takes a quick liking to the boys and recruits them to his cause: the search for true love (Reese Witherspoon) and a clean getaway. Presented by Roadside Attractions.
Unfinished Song (Closing Night)
Director: Paul Andrew Williams
United Kingdom 93 minutes
Cast: Terrence Stamp, Vanessa Redgrave, Gemma Arterton, Christopher Eccleston
UNFINISHED SONG is a funny and inspiring story about Arthur (Terence Stamp), a curmudgeonly old soul, who is perfectly content sticking with his dull daily routine until his beloved wife (Vanessa Redgrave) introduces him to a local seniors singing group. The group is led by the youthful and charming Elizabeth (Gemma Arterton) and her unexpected friendship with Arthur reignites his passion for new adventures and shows us all life should be celebrated at any age. Presented by The Weinstein Company.
Dead Man’s Burden
Director: Jared Moshe
USA 93 minutes
Cast: Clare Bowen, Barlow Jacobs, David Call
Opening with a startling act of violence, this tense, classically crafted indie Western takes place in the aftermath of the Civil War on a hardscrabble homestead in New Mexico where the McCurry clan has been struggling to survive. Martha McCurry sees salvation in selling the family farm, against the wishes of her father. With the patriarch’s death, she seizes her opportunity, but her plans are upset by the unexpected return of her brother Wade, a defector to the Union Army long thought dead. Jared Moshé’s impressive first feature depicts a family in the lethal grip of its own civil war. Presented by Cinedigm Entertainment Group.
Director: Joachim Rønning, Espen Sandberg
Norway 118 minutes
Cast: Pål Sverre Hagen, Anders Baasmo Christiansen, Gustaf Skarsgård, Odd Magnus
Williamson, Tobias Santelmann, Jakob Oftebro, Agnes Kittelsen
Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl crossed the Pacific ocean in a balsa wood raft in 1947, together with five men, to prove that South Americans already back in pre-Columbian times could have crossed the sea and settle on Polynesian islands. After gathering financing for the trip with loans and donations, they set off on an epic 101 day-long journey across 8,000 kilometers, all while the world was watching. KON-TIKI tells about the origin of Heyerdahl’s idea and the events surrounding the group’s voyage. Presented by The Weinstein Company.
The Kings of Summer
Director: Jordan Vogt-Roberts
USA 93 minutes
Cast: Nick Robinson, Gabriel Basso, Moises Arias, Nick Offerman, Megan Mullally, Alison
Brie, Mary Lynn Rajskub
Premiering to rave reviews at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, THE KINGS OF SUMMER is a unique coming-of-age comedy about three teenage friends — Joe (Nick Robinson), Patrick (Gabriel Basso) and the eccentric and unpredictable Biaggio (Moises Arias) - who, in the ultimate act of independence, decide to spend their summer building a house in the woods and living off the land. Free from their parents’ rules, their idyllic summer quickly becomes a test of friendship as each boy learns to appreciate the fact that family - whether it is the one you’re born into or the one you create — is something you can't run away from. Presented by CBS Films.
Director: Ben Wheatley
United Kingdom 88 minutes
Cast: Alice Lowe, Steve Oram
Chris (Steve Oram) wants to finally show sheltered Tina (Alice Lowe) the world, and he wants to do it his way—on a journey through the British Isles in his beloved Abbey Oxford Caravan, visiting such illustrious sites as the National Tramway Museum, the Ribblehead Viaduct, the Cumberland Pencil Museum, and the rolling countryside in between. But it doesn’t take long for the dream to fade. Litterbugs, noisy teenagers, and pre-booked caravan sites soon conspire to shatter Chris’s dreams and send him, and anyone who rubs him the wrong way, over a very jagged edge. Presented by IFC Films.
The Spectacular Now
Director: James Ponsoldt
USA 95 minutes
Cast: Miles Teller, Shailene Woodley, Brie Larson, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Mary Elizabeth
Winstead, Kyle Chandler
Sutter Keely (Miles Teller) lives in the now. It's a good place for him. A high school senior, charming and self-possessed, he's the life of the party, loves his job at a men's clothing store, and has no plans for the future. A budding alcoholic, he's never far from his supersized, whiskey-fortified thirst-master cup. But after being dumped by his girlfriend (Brie Larson), Sutter gets drunk and wakes up on a lawn with Aimee Finicky (Shailene Woodley) hovering over him. She's different: the "nice girl" who reads science fiction and doesn't have a boyfriend. While Amy has dreams of a future, Sutter lives in the impressive delusion of a spectacular now, yet somehow, they're drawn together. Presented by A24 Films.
Stories We Tell
Director: Sarah Polley
Sweden 108 minutes
Cast: Sarah Polley
In this inspired, genre-twisting new film, Oscar®-nominated writer/director Sarah Polley discovers that the truth depends on who's telling it. Polley is both filmmaker and detective as she investigates the secrets kept by a family of storytellers. She playfully interviews and interrogates a cast of characters of varying reliability, eliciting refreshingly candid, yet mostly contradictory, answers to the same questions. As each relates their version of the family mythology, present-day recollections shift into nostalgia-tinged glimpses of their mother, who departed too soon, leaving a trail of unanswered questions. Polley unravels the paradoxes to reveal the essence of family: always complicated, warmly messy and fiercely loving. Stories We Tell explores the elusive nature of truth and memory, but at its core is a deeply personal film about how our narratives shape and define us as individuals and families, all interconnecting to paint a profound, funny and poignant picture of the larger human story. Presented by Roadside Attractions.
Director: Pablo Stoll
Uruguay: 115 minutes
Cast: Sara Bessio, Anaclara Ferreyra, Humberto de Vargas, Nestor Guzzini
Genre: Family Drama / Character Comedy
Rudolph’s life at home feels empty and cold. Meanwhile, his first wife Graciela and teenage daughter Ana, who he left ten years ago, are experiencing defining moments in their lives. Rudolph tries to subtly retake his place beside them.
All the Light in the Sky
Director: Joe Swanberg
USA 79 minutes
Cast: Jane Adams, Larry Fessenden, Ti West
Marie is a well-respected actress in her mid-40s. She enjoys the freedom that life without a husband or children provides, but she's unsure where to focus her energy as her acting work slows. Then, her 25-year-old niece pays a visit to her Malibu home.
Breakfast with Curtis
Director: Laura Colella
USA 82 minutes
Cast: Jonah Parker, Theo Green, David A. Parker
Syd is an eccentric bookseller with delusions of grandeur. He caused a rift 5 years ago between his bohemian housemates and the family next door, but now tries to recruit his 14-year-old neighbor as a collaborator.
The Cold Lands
Director: Tom Gilroy
USA 100 minutes
Cast: Silas Yelich, Lili Taylor, Nick Sandow, John Ventimiglia
After his mother’s sudden death, a young boy disappears into the deep woods of upstate New York and takes up with an unpredictable and mysterious drifter.
The History of Future Folk
Director: John Mitchell
USA 85 minutes
Cast: Nils d’Aulaire, Julie Ann Emery, April Hernandez, Dee Snider
When two aliens from the planet Hondo come to Earth and hear music for the first time, they put their plans for colonization on hold and form the Universe’s first intergalactic bluegrass duo: “Future Folk”.
I Used to Be Darker
Director: Matthew Porterfield
USA 90 minutes
Cast: Deragh Campbell, Kim Taylor
When Taryn, a Northern Irish runaway, finds herself in trouble in Ocean City, MD, she seeks refuge with her Aunt Kim and Uncle Bill in Baltimore. But she soon finds Kim and Bill have problems of their own.
If You Die, I Will Kill You
Director: Hiner Saleem
France 95 minutes
Cast: Jonathan Zaccai, Golshifteh Farahani, Biley Demirtas
In Paris' cosmopolitan 10th arrondissement, Philippe, who's fresh out of prison, crosses paths with Avdal, a Kurd trying to track down an Iraqi war criminal. The two men strike up a friendship. When Avdal dies suddenly and unexpectedly, Philippe finds himself left to organize the funeral arrangements.
Director: Alicia Scherson
Italy 94 minutes
Cast: Luigi Ciardo, Manuela Martelli, Rutger Hauer
Recently orphaned Bianca and Tomas explore the dangerous streets of adulthood until Bianca finds Maciste, a retired Mr. Universe, and enters his dark mansion in search of a future.
The Land of Eb
Director: Andrew Williamson
Marshall Islands 87 minutes
Cast: Elizabeth Christensen, Cynthia Decker, James Gideom
Set in a neglected corner of the Hawaiian islands, The Land of Eb is a feature film about a Marshallese family struggling to create a home for themselves on the periphery of society.
The Most Fun I've Ever Had With My Pants On
Director: Drew Denny
USA 93 minutes
Cast: Drew Denny, Sarah Hagan
Genre: Dark Comedy
Childhood girlfriends Andy & Liv reunite to scatter Andy's dad's ashes from LA to Austin. Meanwhile, Liv auditions for the role of a vixen spy in a noir film. While performing funerals in surreal Southwestern landscapes, the girls practice being bad!
Director: Yen Tan
USA 80 minutes
Cast: Bill Heck, Marcus DeAnda, Amy Seimetz, John Merriman
Recovering from an ill-fated affair with a married man, Gabe finds solace in the relationship he maintains with his ex-wife and daughter. On the other side of town, Ernesto evades life at home with his current live-in ex-boyfriend by spending time in the hospital with an ailing past love.
Director: Daisy von Scherler Meyer
USA 90 minutes
Cast: Adam Brody, Jennifer Morrison, Kristen Bell, Emily Watson, Zoe Kazan, Mia Maestro
Written by Sundance Film Festival Filmmakers' Trophy winner and Cannes Film Festival Palme D'Or nominee Neil LaBute, a writer revisits his past loves on the eve of his wedding. It's 'High Fidelity' with Neil LaBute's signature insight into the dark, but hilarious, core of human behavior. Based on his play of the same name.
The Sunshine Boys
Director: Tae-gon Kim
South Korea 83 minutes
Cast: Hee-seop Sim, Jae-hong Ahn, Chang-Hwan Kim
Sang-won, Seung-jun, and Min-wook are high school best friends. However, after graduation, they are in different places in life; Sang-won is a college student, Seung-jun studies for one more year to enter college, and Min-wook enters military service.
Director: Hanah Fidell
USA 75 minutes
Cast: Lindsay Burdge, Will Brittain, Jennifer Prediger
A high school teacher's life changes forever when she enters a passionate affair with a student. A unique and original story about the exhilaration and tragedy of erotic passion.
Director: Alain Gomis
Senegal 86 minutes
Cast: Saul Williams
Satche undergoes an inner journey through his life, experiencing his memories with the intensity of the first time they happened to him.
This is Martin Bonner
Director: Chad Hartigan
USA 83 minutes
Cast: Paul Eenhorn, Richmond Marquette
Martin Bonner has just moved to Reno for a new job in prison rehabilitation. Starting over at age 58, he struggles to adapt until an unlikely friendship with an ex-con blossoms, helping him confront the issues he left behind.
Director: Martha Shane, Lana Wilson
USA 85 minutes
A controversial and poignant documentary about the dangerous lives of doctors providing third-trimester abortions for women. The doctors struggle in a society that not only condemns, but sometimes assassinates them, as evidenced by the 2009 killing of Dr. George Tiller.
Fall and Winter
Director: Matt Anderson
USA 98 minutes
A documentary about survival within a global crisis caused by pollution. The most poignant look at global warming since 'An Inconvenient Truth.'
Far Out Isn't Far Enough: The Tomi Ungerer Story
Director: Brad Bernstein
USA 98 minutes
Award-winning storyteller and satirist Tomi Ungerer takes us on a tour through his tumultuous life, revealing the man behind his inspiring and often controversial art.
Director: Jeremy Siefert
USA 90 minutes
A father's discovery of genetically engineered food and his determination to keep it out of his kid's hands tells a story revealing that we are not always as safe in our consumption as we think.
The Guerilla Son
Director: David Herdies, Zanyar Adami
Sweden 58 minutes
A refugee left by his father in the midst of a war has finally gathered the courage to confront his father for his actions. A riveting portrayal of how war affects the family unit.
I Am Divine
Director: Jeffrey Schwarz
USA 85 minutes
People Magazine's "Drag Icon of the Century" Divine reveals his meteoric rise to stardom in a hilarious and layered exploration of what it takes to become famous.
Iceberg Slim: Portrait of a Pimp
Director: Jorge Hinojosa
USA 89 minutes
An intriguing and sometimes shocking portrayal of Iceberg Slim, an iconic urban fiction writer who used his experiences as a ruthless pimp to become an underground sensation among the hip-hop culture.
Director: Simon Ennis
Canada 80 minutes
With wry humor and affection, Simon Ennis' Lunarcy! follows a disparate group of dreamers and schemers who have one thing in common: they've devoted their lives to the Moon.
Director: Judd Ehrlich
USA 85 minutes
A touching story of a magic camp for identity-seeking children, who find that it is not sleight-of-hand tricks that make magic happen; it's what's inside their hearts.
Director: David Morris, Jacqui Morris
United Kingdom 90 minutes
Photojournalist Don McCullin is a master of using photography to explore the undersides of society; this is the story behind his highly regarded and influential work.
Persistence of Vision
Director: Kevin Schreck
USA 83 minutes
Focusing on visionary animator Richard Williams ('Who Framed Roger Rabbit'), Persistence of Vision is the intriguing untold story of the greatest animated film never made.
Plimpton! Starring George Plimpton as Himself
Director: Tom Bean
USA 89 minutes
A revealing look into the life of legendary sportswriter George Plimpton, illustrating the way passion for sports can provide direction and meaning.
Remote Area Medical
Director: Jeff Reichert, Farihah Zaman
USA 81 minutes
A touching portrait of the benefits of free healthcare, documenting three days in April 2012 that Remote Area Medical provided free healthcare to nearly 2000 patients on the infield of Tennessee's NASCAR Speedway.
A River Changes Course
Director: Kalyanee Mam
Cambodia 84 minutes
Oscar-winning film-maker Kalyanee Mam explores the destruction of Cambodian forest, illustrating the societal crisis between the nature-loving present and the industry-consumed future.
These Birds Walk
Director: Omar Mullick
Pakistan 71 minutes
A touching story of how friendships can bloom in desperate situations, illustrated through a runaway boy and a reluctant ambulance driver in Karachi meet through a humanitarian mutual acquaintance.
Words of Witness
Director: Mai Iskander
Egypt / USA 71 minutes
A coming-of-age documentary about a female journalist in Egypt who defies societal expectations and undergoes the powerful disillusionment that characterizes everyone's journey from child to adulthood.
NEW DIRECTOR FILMS
Director: Joel Petroykus
USA 86 minutes
Cast: Gary Bosek, Teri Nelson, Joshua Burge, Benjamin Riley
A struggling comedian strikes a deal with the devil to become successful in this quirky dark comedy.
Boy Eating the Bird's Food (To agori troei to fagito tou pouliou)
Director: Ektoras Lygizos
Greece 80 minutes
Cast: Yiannis Papadopoulos
A young, starving musician must become a criminal to feed himself. Showcases a breakthrough performance from Yiannis Papadopoulus that has put him in early running for Best Actor.
Director: Rola Nashef
USA 90 minutes
Cast: E.J. Assi, Nada Shouhayib, Mike Batayeh, Mary Assel, Akram El-Ahmar, Steven Soro
An ambitious Lebanese-American youth takes over his family’s gas station after his father’s death in this spirited and often hilarious coming-of-age tale.
Director: Justin Schwarz
USA 104 minutes
Cast: Griffin Dunne, Cara Buono, John C. McGinley, Dreama Walker, Ann Dowd, Scott Adsit
A dysfunctional family takes a road trip in search of a missing Grandpa. Features an all-star cast headed by Oscar and Emmy nominated Griffin Dunne, Emmy-Award winner Stuart Margolin, and Californication's Madeleine Martin.
Director: Patrik Ecklund
Sweden 100 minutes
Cast: Kjell Bergqvist, Allan Svensson, Olle Sarri
The first feature from Oscar-nominated film-maker Patrik Ecklund examines a small town with something dangerous lurking on the outskirts.
The Go Doc Project
Directors: Cory James Krueckeberg
Sweden 75 minutes
Cast: Tanner Cohen, Matthew Camp
A young man poses as a documentary film-maker to meet a male dancer he's obsessed with, then has to actually film the project when the dancer becomes interested.
It Felt Like Love
Director: Eliza Hittman
USA 82 minutes
Cast: Gina Piersanti, Giovanna Salimeni, Ronen Rubinstein, Jesse Cordasco, Nick Rosen, Case Prime
A unique coming-of-age love story about Lila's relationship with Sammy - which exists solely in her head.
Nairobi Half Life
Director: Tosh Gitonga
Kenya / South Africa 96 minutes
Cast: Joseph Wairimu, Olwenya Maina, Nancy Wanjiku Karanja
Mwas is determined to become a famous actor - even if he has to lead a life of crime to support himself in the mean-time.
One Small Hitch
Director: John Burgess
USA 105 minutes
Cast: Shane McRae, Aubrey Dollar, Daniel J. Travanti, Janet Ulrich Brooks, Mary Jo Faraci, Ron Dean
In this well-made romantic comedy with a talented cast, two friends fake a wedding engagement only to develop real feelings for each other.
Out in the Dark
Director: Michael Mayer
Israel 96 minutes
Cast: Nicholas Jacob, Michael Aloni, Jamil Khoury, Loai Nofi
A beautifully made tale of two young men's love story amidst political intrigue.
Director: Kate Melville
Canada 93 minutes
Cast: Tatiana Maslany, Spencer Van Wyck, Steven McCarthy, Susan Coyne , Fiona Highet, Mark DeBonis
A coming-of-age romantic comedy focusing on the choice a young adult girl makes between two very different male admirers.
This Is Where We Live
Directors: Josh Barrett, Marc Menchaca
USA 92 minutes
Cast: Ron Hayden, CK McFarland, Marc Menchaca, Tobias Segal, Frankie Shaw, Barry Corbin, Carolyn Gilroy
A story of friendship healing a sick family set in the scenic Texas Hill Country.
Director: Solleen Yusef
Germany 45 minutes
Cast: Uwe Preuss, Anna Hermann, Caspar Kaeser, Ufuk Bozkurt, Milton Welsh
A nineteen-year old girl meets her father for the first time to find he is a small-time criminal. Part of a celebration of Kurdish Cinema.
Beware of the Dogs
Director: Jeff Kennedy
USA 73 minutes
A thrilling story detailing the rise to fame of Canadian rockers The Sheepdogs, including interviews with Kid Rock and Jimmy Fallon and exploring the passion and drive of rock musicians. World premiere.
Die Thomaner - A Year in the Life of the St. Thomas Boys Choir Leipzig
Directors: Günter Atteln, Paul Smaczny
Germany 114 minutes
In 2012 the St. Thomas Boys Choir Leipzig celebrates its 800th anniversary. The choir outlasted all ups and downs of European history, maintaining its unbroken traditions over the centuries and holding onto
established principles such as the inclusion of the elder boys in the education of the younger ones. The film accompanies the choir over a period of one year, immersing into a unique world between motet, boarding school and football pitch, into a life that is distinguished by success and pressure to perform, doubts and pride, homesickness and genuine friendship.
Director: Sara Terry
USA 90 minutes
Part music documentary and part road trip movie, Folk follows the lives and of three singer-songwriters and their music, as they do what singer-songwriters have always done: amplify the themes that resonate across our cultural landscape - whether it’s re-defining success in the face of failure, trying to find wholeness in an increasingly fragmented world, or struggling to make sense of the trials and triumphs that make us all so human.
Good Ol' Freda
Director: Ryan White
USA 89 minutes
A never-before seen look into the Beatles' decade-long career through the eyes of their devoted secretary and friend, Freda Kelly.
Jim Lauderdale: The King of Broken Hearts
Director: Jeremy Dylan
Australia 93 minutes
Grammy Award-winning bluegrass singer, hit country songwriter, prolific recording artist, radio DJ, awards show host, harmony singer and guitarist for Elvis Costello and Willie Nelson, tai chi master… Jim Lauderdale’s journey from banjo-playing Beatles fan in North Carolina to the face of Americana music takes him through the 1980s ‘Urban Cowboy’ NYC country club scene, playing James Brown covers in a honky-tonk in LA where he was spotted by Dwight Yoakam’s producer, failed albums and record label frustrations before country superstar George Strait sold six million albums with two of Jim’s songs and put Lauderdale tunes in the ears of music fans around America.
A Lovely Day
Director: Kerri Gawryn
USA 93 minutes
Nine youths from Oakland, California channel their life frustrations into Hip Hop music, showing how music showcases artistic voices that educate and unite struggling communities.
Director: Greg ‘Freddy’ Camalier
USA 102 minutes
Muscle Shoals tells the story of Muscle Shoals, Alabama, and the creative music it produced, which influenced everyone from The Rolling Stones to Alicia Keys to U2, all of whom bear witness in exclusive interviews about the power of Muscle Shoals' music.
Director: Maxine Trump
USA 80 minutes
A documentary exploring the age-old conflict between preservation of nature and the industrial resource nature provides, seen through the eyes of renowned acoustic guitar-makers and Native Americans on opposing sides of the issue.
This Ain't No Mouse Music!
Directors: Chris Simon, Maureen Gosling
USA 97 minutes
The story of legendary Chris Strachwitz and his journey to produce authentic, soulful music in the face of a culture dominated by commercial corporate vision.
Very Extremely Dangerous
Director: Paul Duane
Ireland / USA 85 minutes
A jarring portrait of an aging rock-n-roller and career criminal who continues a life of crime at age seventy, even in the face of death.
Viva Cuba Libre: Rap Is War
Director: Jesse Acevedo
USA / Cuba 74 min.
A stunning look at the ruthlessness of censorship and the populist opposition to it, focusing on two young brothers who are beaten and arrested for listening to rap group Los Aldeanos, whose music is banned by their government.
We Always Lie to Strangers
Directors: AJ Schnack, David Wilson
USA 109 minutes
We Always Lie to Strangers is a story of family, community, music and tradition set against the backdrop of Branson, Missouri, a remote Ozark Mountain town that is one of the biggest tourist destinations in the United States. Here, millions from around the country - particularly from the American Midwest - flock for a return to "old fashioned, traditional values" and the family-style entertainment of Branson's 100+ staged music shows, many of which feature families performing together. As Branson faces economic uncertainty and changes in attitudes on social issues, the interwoven sagas of these performing families form a composite both of Branson and of contemporary America.