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Mary Jane Coleman, Indie Film Festival Founder Dies

GREENEVILLE, TN (AP) – Mary Jane Coleman, a pioneer in promoting independent films and founder of the Sinking Creek Film Celebration, has died. She was 86.

Mrs. Coleman founded the Sinking Creek Film Celebration in Greeneville in 1969 after becoming interested in independent film-making.

According to The Greeneville Sun, it was the first festival of its kind in the South.

Because of its growth, the festival was moved from Greeneville to the Vanderbilt University campus in Nashville in 1972.

In 1998 the Sinking Creek Film Celebration was moved from the Vanderbilt campus to a different Nashville location, the name of the event was changed to the Nashville Independent Film Festival, and the focus of the festival was broadened considerably.

The name was shortened to the Nashville Film Festival in 2003.

It remains the oldest continuously running film festival in the South.

Now hosted at the Regal Green Hills Stadium 16 theater complex in Nashville, the festival states on its website that since 2004 it has doubled attendance to 23,000, screening more than 250 films from 48 nations.

Mrs. Coleman retired from the festival in 1997 after serving as its executive director and artistic director for more than 20 years.