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The Independent Critic

 2012 Heartland Film Festival: A-Z Reviews, Vol. 14 
Inocente (40 Mins., Doc Short)

Conceived and Directed by: Andrea Nix Fine and Sean Fine; OFFICIAL WEBSITE; OFFICIAL FACEBOOK

It seems like every year, the Heartland Film Festival has at least one film about a hardcore, downtrodden young female. This year's entry in that tradition is the latest film from Heartland faves Andrea Nix Fine and Sean Fine, Inocente.

is about a 15-year-old girl who has lived homeless as an undocumented immigrant for the last 9-years. Yet, she dreams of being an artist and the Fine's do an absolutely incredible, to the point of jarring, of capturing Inocente's dual and seemingly conflicting realities. One of this year's Crystal Heart Award winners, Inocente is powerfully successful because it captures both the heart-wrenching challenges that Inocente faces and absolutely, relentlessly holds on to hope in the process. In the matter of a mere 40 minutes, the Fines manage to build a well rounded story that is both coming-of-age and coming-of-hope. The film also paints a portrait of America's new homeless - our children. While it tells their story truthfully, it refuses to ever exploit this marvelous young woman.

Having viewed multiple efforts by Andrea Nix Fine and Sean Fine, I've become accustomed to what may be the greatest gift they have - capturing every aspect of life and portraying it through the lens of beauty.

It Ain't Over (11 Mins., Doc Short)

Featuring: Dr. Ed Dobson; Directed by: Caleb Slain; Written by: David Michael Phelps;

This powerful 11-minute short film directed by Caleb Slain chronicles Dr. Ed Dobson, a man who had been accustomed to counseling others through loss and grief yet who suddenly found himself dealing with a prognosis of 2-5 years left to live and a diagnosis of ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease).

Slain does a good job of allowing the power of Dobson's presence to tell this story, a story that both inspires and rattles. By the end of this far too quickly done eleven minute short film, one feels like a much more intimate companion in Dobson's journey than you might believe possible.

It Ain't Over is an official selection of the 2012 Heartland Film Festival.

It's Such a Beautiful Day (23 Mins., Animated/Experimental Short)

Narrated, Written and Directed by: Don Hertzfeldt;

This festival award-winner is the third in writer/director Don Hertzfeldt's trilogy Everything Will Be Okay, a moving trilogy with simple animation and a deeply humanistic message. In this final third, Bill finds himself in a hospital struggling to deal with memory loss. Hertzfeldt's animation appears simplistic, yet it is far more substantial the longer you watch it unfold. The trilogy itself, which has been released in its entirety, involves Bill. Bill is a fairly nondescript office worker who is increasingly forced to deal with what seems like his own irrelevance and the growing dominance of a mental illness.

It's a Beautiful Day is simply mesmerizing, a film that serves to remind that it's not always about the special effects or the distractions. In this case, it's about the wonder of the animation and the message that unfolds over the course of the film's twenty-three minute running time.