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The Independent Critic

Father Ted Hesburgh, Sec. Leon Panetta, Ted Kopple, Sen. Alan Simpson, Dr. Mary Frances Berry
Patrick Creadon
100 Mins.

 "Hesburgh" Snags Top Two Indiana Spotlight Awards at Heartland 

It's not surprising that Patrick Creadon's Hesburgh captured both of the Indiana Spotlight awards during the 2018 Heartland International Film Festival awards ceremony held last evening at the Deer-Zink Pavilion inside Newfields in Midtown Indy. 

While Heartland has a definite history of seeing their jury awards and audience awards be wildly differing films, both jury and audiences agreed that this Indiana made film was the best of the bunch among those competing within the Indiana Spotlight category. 

For those not in the know, Father Theodore Hesburgh served as the long-time president of the University of Notre Dam and easily became one of America's most well-known Catholic priests. Along the way, he built a reputation as a savvy political operator with a gift for bridging even the widest political and theological chasms such as those between Heartland juries and audiences. 

But, I digress.

Seriously, Creadon's wonderfully produced and directed film offers a thorough and unique glimpse into more than 50 years of American history among a man equally known as educator, civil rights champion, presidential advisor, papal envoy, theologian, and unapologetic activist. He served as a remarkable example of bipartisanship having been equally embraced, at times, for both his conservative and progressive values. 

An ordained priest of the Congregation of the Holy Cross, Hesburgh served Notre Dame from 1952-1987 and began living a masterclass in how to skillfully yet effectively swim the waters of respectful yet unequivocal challenging of authority and he stood as a shining example of being able to stand up, even to those deemed his superiors, if the cause itself was just including with his determination to take Notre Dame to another level in terms of world and academic leadership. 

Hesburgh, as a film, weaves together an abundance of archival footage along with better than usual production quality as Indiana continues to grow as a home for quality indie filmmaking projects. Alex Mansour's original companions the film quite nicely, while Turner Jurmonville's lensing is also top notch. 

You may remember Creadon from his wonderful feature doc Wordplay, a widely acclaimed film centered around longtime New York Times' crossword puzzle editor Will Shortz. While the tone is vastly different here, Creadon's ability to tell the story remains intact and Hesburgh paints a wonderful portrait of a man many Hoosiers know but may not really know. 

© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic