Written and Directed by: Nick Rieth; Starring: Byron Wolter, Alex Westrick; Running Time: 5 Mins.
Midwestern kicks off the Indiana Spotlight 1 block of shorts with 5-minutes of cinematic fun. Several of the spots in the film should be familiar to Indiana moviegoers and you can definitely tell that Byron Wolter and Alex Westrick are having an awful lot of fun in this creative, entertaining endeavor. Midwestern is having its world premiere at the 2019 Indy Shorts International Film Festival and it'll be interesting to watch it as it hits the indie fest circuit. Written and directed by Nick Rieth, the film centers around a forlorn wanted poster that sends a cowboy on a journey through the Midwest. In addition to solid performances from both Wolter and Westrick, Midwestern features terrific lensing by Bobby Bennett and a somewhat expected but very nicely done original score and sound design by Joshua Kattner.
Written and Directed by: Sharon Everitt; Starring: Brent Spiner, LeVar Burton, Peri Gilpin, Doug Benson, and Kristen Rozanski; Running Time: 12 Mins. Official IMDB
Admittedly, I wasn't sure what to expect from writer/director Sharon Everitt's 12-minute short film Brentwood, but this film is an absolute delight from beginning to end. Featuring a hilariously awesome performance by Brent Spiner (Data from Star Trek: The Next Generation), the film has Spiner begrudgingly returning to Hollywood in an effort to one-up his rival and former co-star, LeVar Burton. With nothing going quite as planned, Spiner, more than a little bit of a jerk in the film, declares that he's going to change.
And he has a song for it.
Featuring a delightful cast of familiars including Spiner, LeVar Burton, Peri Gilpin, Doug Benson, and Kristen Rozanski, Brentwood is 12 minutes of cinematic delight with spry, vibrant original music by Greg Chun and pristine lensing by Dan Adlerstein. Spiner's the definite highlight here, though Burton adds his usual gravitas and Gilpin gives the film a definite spark.
Brentwood picked up the Best Short Film prize at the Independent Filmmakers Showcase and should definitely please Indiana audiences during its screening in the Indiana Spotlight 1 program at the 2019 Indy Shorts International Film Festival.
Written and Directed by: Will Wertz; Featured Subject: Lionel Hills; Running Time: 6 Mins.
Love plus love equals love.
Indeed, you'll fall in love with L'Humble Cirque, a 6-minute doc short having its world premiere at the 2019 Indy Shorts International Film Festival as part of the Indiana Spotlight 1 block of shorts. The doc celebrates the singular and soulful Lionel Hills, a street performer at an unlikely busy middle-American intersection.
Everything about L'Humble Cirque radiates compassion and love, most notably Hills himself, a steady and peaceful presence who gently reflects on both past and present alongside Kassim Norris's intimately comfortable lensing and a piano-fueled original score that soothes and comforts. Writer/director Will Wertz allows Hills to be the focus here and that's an absolutely wise decision as Hills's voice is as filled with humanity as is his remarkable streetside presence that seems motivated almost exclusively by the desire to spread love and joy. L'Humble Cirque should have no problem at all putting together a lengthy fest run if Wertz chooses. This film is definitely a winner and the kind of film that fest audiences will absolutely adore.
Written and Directed by: Megan Marie Connolly, Claudia Krogmeier; Starring: Rose Amer, Hilary Williams; Running Time: 4 Mins; Official Facebook
In a mere four minutes, co-writers/directors Megan Marie Connolly and Claudie Krogmeier have crafted an immensely heartfelt, deeply touching portrayal of a young woman's (Hilary Williams) journey to heal that requires she face her past and her own conflicted feelings toward her unstable, formerly best friend.
Sublimely designed like an old photo book reflecting tattered memories and gently faded photos, Dear Frankie quietly soars on the strength of Hilary Williams's emotionally honest vocal work and performances by both Williams and Rose Amer that bristle with familiarity and woundedness. Mark Charles Davis's cinematography is heartbreakingly inspired, while Darrell M. Hunt's original music hits just the right tone for the film. Connolly's editorial work here is perfection.
With a script that is poignant and vulnerable, Dear Frankie is one of the true gems of the 2019 Indy Shorts International Film Fest.
Directed by: Layne Marie Williams; Written by: Zack Sievers; Starring: Kalika Rose, Bobby Christman, Quentin Malicoat, Amy Woodall, and David Carter-T; Running Time: 15 Mins; Official Facebook
Golden Voices is another world premiere for the 2019 Indy Shorts International Film Festival. In the film, Paranormal Investigator Radha Laburnum (Kalika Rose) takes her radio show on the road across Indiana to track the emergency of ghastly voices speaking of gold. Competing in the Narrative category, this 15-minute short
A winner of the 2018 Indiana Film Race, Golden Voices is a clever, inspired sci-fi 15-minute short film with a solid performance from lead Kalika Rose as a determined investigator and truth teller. While Rose is up front here, the film's ensemble cast all performs quite ably and Golden Voices radiates a sort of mystical spark as we get closer and closer to our desired truths. For more information on the film, be sure to visit its official Facebook page.
Full Review Here!
Development of June
Written and Directed by: Joe Olmstead; Starring: Holly de Jong, Rose Muirhead, Alasdair Melrose, Joyce Greenaway, Ines Wightwick; Running Time: 18 Mins; Official IMDB
Development of June, having its U.S. premiere as part of the Indiana Spotlight 1 block of films during the 2019 Indy Shorts International Film Festival, is at its most involving when the remarkable Holly De Jong is front-and-center as 70-year-old June, an aging woman struggling with the inevitabilities of time and the growing impact of dementia in her life as she learns that a field holding her dearest memories will be commercially developed.
Writer/director Joe Olmstead tells a poignant, familiar story here and brings it beautifully to life with a naturalism and honesty that is supported by Judyta Potocka's masterful and immersive lensing for the film. De Jong's strong performance here is supported by the convincing turns of Rose Muirhead as her daughter April and Alasdair Melrose as Sam.
Olmstead avoids the usual overwrought stereotypes here, though immerses the marvelous De Jong in the internal chaos and external confusion that so frequently accompanies those living with dementia. Yet, the immersion is gentle and tender rather than harsh, overly dramatic and stereotypical. It leads to a film that lingers in your heart and makes you want to call your parents and grandparents. Yet another of the student film entries during this year's Indy Shorts, Development of June is a strong effort by Olmstead and likely indicator of a promising cinematic future for the young filmmaker.
The Slower Path
Directed by: John Scott; Featured Subjects: Jonathan Balash, E. Thomasina Marsili, and Robert Ping-Slater; Running Time: 9 Mins.
When you think of rural Indiana, an overwhelmingly red state where the Republican Party holds a supermajority in both the Indiana House and Indiana Senate, you don't exactly think of diversity.
You sure don't think about gay pride.
However, The Slower Path is a reminder that sometimes, with enough heart and determination, anything is possible and people from diverse backgrounds can figure out how to peacefully co-exist and try, at least try, to understand one another. While Spencer, Indiana is located within a nerve center of Indiana's conservatism and has a population of just over 2,000 residents, the community has become a shining example of working hard to learn how to live with one another through its embrace of the Spencer Pride Festival, an event in Spencer that has grown to become more than just a singular annual event.
It's become part of the town.
If you're a member of the LGBTQ community and grew up in a rural community, there's a pretty good chance you have, at minimum, conflicted memories about the experience and, quite often, downright negative ones. Yet, what Spencer, Indiana has accomplished, largely inspired by the perseverance and dedication of those connected with Spencer Pride, is to help the town become seen as a welcoming space for the rural gay community.
Oh, and in case you didn't realize, there IS a rural gay community.
Directed by John Scott, The Slower Path is a 9-minute short doc that poignantly tells a meaningful story while capturing the human side of what all too often gets reduced to a faceless political discussion. However, The Slower Path also recognizes that as much as we should celebrate the story in Spencer, Indiana it's still the exception and not the rule and toward a flipping of that truth we must continue to work.
Feel of Vision
Directed by: Tucker Gragg, Austin Gardner; Featured Subject: Lonnie Bedwell; Running Time: 26 Mins; Official IMDB
Dugger, Indiana' s Lonnie Bedwell appears in two docs this year. He's mostly in the background of the doc feature The Weight of Water, but Bedwell is front-and-center of Feel of Vision, a 26-minute doc short screening as part of the Beauty of Nature shorts block while also completing among the Hoosier Lens films. After losing his eyesight, Bedwell discovered that kayaking, yes kayaking, opened up the whole world for him. Feel of Vision tells the story of a guy who spends his time engaging fellow blind paddlers in the spray and white foam of the Ohioplye and Yellowstone wilderness. Co-directed by Tucker Gragg and Austin Gardner, Feel of Vision is the true highlight of the Beauty of Nature shorts block, an inspirational film that avoids being overly sappy and even more wisely avoids the tendency toward "inspiration porn" that seems to plague so many films centered around disability. Feel of Vision gives us a Lonnie Bedwell who is open about his physical challenges, but it also gives us a Lonnie Bedwell who has learned to live a pretty amazing life in the midst of them all. Bedwell was surrounded by friends and family during the film's opening screening at DeBoest Lecture Hall in Newfields and Feel of Vision does a wonderful job of capturing the ways in which his friends and family have gone on their own journeys right alongside Bedwell. Heart-tugging and constantly feel good, Feel of Vision is one of the 2019 Indy Shorts International Film Fest's feel good gems. For those who also attended this year's Indy Film Fest, you may remember that Feel of Vision also played at that film festival alongside the feature The Weight of Water.
Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic