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The Independent Critic

 Indiana Spotlight 2 
  • Microwave Time Machine
    Joshua Summers, Jeff Bodart, Susan Galey Jones, Lauren Harper
    Ben Redar
    Dan Edwards
  • Mabingwa
    Omar Ibrahim, Evans Imboma, Saitoti Mutaka, John Leruso, and Paula Kahumbu
    Matt Mays
  • Momentum
    Donald Edmunds, Larry Thienes, Faith Potter
    Will Wertz
  • A Drawing

    Brad Condie
  • When Kids Wrote the Headlines

    Meher Ahmad, MIchelle Evans, Lisa Schubert Nowling, Dennis Ryerson, George McLaren
    Michael Husain
  • Grateful
    Jenni Berebitsky, Joyce Berebitsky
    Paul Nethercott
  • Chain Stitched: The Work of Jerry Lee Atwood
    Jerry Lee Atwood
    John Scott
 Indy Shorts Spotlights Indiana Films & Filmmakers 

The inaugural Indy Shorts International Film Festival, presented by Heartland Film, is shining a bright spotlight on Indiana films and filmmakers with not one but two programs devoted exclusively to the Indiana Spotlight. This second collection includes some familiar names to Heartland attendees and some truly delightful short films. Here's my short reviews on this second collection of short films in the Indiana Spotlight 2 Program. 

Ben Redar's 7-minute short film Microwave Time Machine kicks off the Indiana Spotlight 2 Shorts Program in fine fashion with this light, funny story centered around a young science enthusiast who happens upon an unlikely and bizarre discovery leading him to unintentionally wreak havoc on a family from the past. 

If there's a key difference between Indiana Shorts Program 1 and Indiana Shorts Program 2, it's likely that the second program is actually much more geared toward family audiences with nary an offensive word to be spoken in this entire collection. Microwave Time Machine, written by Dan Edwards, is a perfect example of this with a somewhat familiar yet humorous set-up that benefits from a terrific ensemble cast that feels like they could be leftovers from Back to the Future outtakes. 

Joshua Summers is perfectly fine here as the young science enthusiast, but Microwave Time Machine is pretty much a comic tour-de-force for the always funny Jeff Bodart, who should be familiar to audiences as a stand-up comic and Bob & Tom writer, and the absolutely spot-on Susan Galey Jones. Together? Bodart and Galey Jones are simply priceless.

As the lone comedy in the Indiana Spotlight 2 Program, Microwave Time Machine is sure to please audience members and add some levity to an otherwise mostly serious program. If you get a chance, definitely check this one out. 


At 37 minutes, Matt Mays's Mabingwa is the longest of the shorts running in the Indiana Spotlight programs and is a film likely to resonate with Heartland Film's typical audience. 

Mabingwa is the Swahili word for "champions" and, indeed, this is a film centered around the need for Kenya's young people to become conservation champions in a nation where the population is on track to double in the next 25 years and already challenged natural resources are destined to become even more of a problem. The film introduces us to four men from four different corners of the country, their struggles on a daily basis making it a challenge to move them toward a conservation mindset. However, Mabingwa is ultimately a hopeful film as the discussion gets started and lives get changed. 

Mabingwa is already proving to be successful on the film festival circuit, picking up the Best Cinematography prize at the African Film Festival where it was also nominated for Best Doc Feature. 

The film is, indeed, a beautifully photographed film that balances its portrayal of the nation's challenges with equal time and attention to the beauty of its land and people. 

For more information on Mabingwa, visit the film's Facebook page. 

Will Wertz has this second short film in the Indy Shorts International Film Festival and it's another winner for Wertz. Momentum is practically tailor made for a festival like Indy Shorts, a feel good and transformational 6-minute short film centering around two Indy-based soap box racers, Donald Edmunds and Faith Potter, and the mentors that help them along their way.

Momentum is a beautifully photographed film, a film that captures delightful interviews with these young people and the almost hypnotic beauty of their racing. The film makes it perfectly clear that soap box racing is about a whole lot more than racing - it teaches these kids about commitment and responsibility and, indeed, you can see how these kids have been transformed by their participation. 

This is the U.S. premiere for Momentum, a film that definitely deserves to reach a wider audience. Both Edmunds and Potter make for compelling youths, Edmunds the more reserved of the two yet even in his introversion he draws you in and makes you cheer for him. 

Momentum is yet another quality film in a shorts program that serves as proof positive of Indiana's growing cinematic scene. 

Stunning in its simplicity and beauty, Brad Condie's 6-minute animated short film is a black-and-white work of wonder centered around a young boy who misses his chance to say goodbye to his dying mother. Through a deep desire, he wills himself to try to see her again. 

A Drawing is the kind of film where you have to give too much of its story away, though suffice it to say that the film's universe affirming, meditative presence is absolutely captivating. Condie is a Ball State University Assistant Professor in Animation, though prior to his time at Ball State he spent nine years with Disney as an animator and also some time with Electronic Arts. 

The film's original score was composed by Earshot's Mina Keohane and features Keohane on piano, Grover Parido on cello, and Kathy Hershberger on violin. The end result is an original score that is immersive and somber yet intimate. It complements the film perfectly. 

A Drawing sublimely weaves together the simplicity and beauty of hand-drawn animation, yet the drawings and animation are viewed at 4k resolution. 

The result? Absolutely beautiful. 

Michael Husain writes and directs this 29-minute short film, When Kids Wrote the Headlines, a look at the Children's Express and Y-Press history that for 23 years taught young Indiana journalists ages 10-18 to question, vet sources, and report on relevant issues. In this particular era, when fake news pops up everywhere and allegations of fake news pop up even more frequently, youths are challenged to discern the truth and this film is a wonderful reminder of just how important Children's Express, which then became Y-Press, was to Central Indiana youths and the community at large. 

When Kids Wrote the Headlines captures beautifully exactly why the film is playing Indy Shorts and is truly a Heartland type of film - it transformed the lives of the children and youth who participated in the program. These children and youth tackled the serious subjects of their time, not allowing themselves to be dismissed simply because they were younger. 

I think a lot of us here in Central Indiana wept a little bit when the program ended. Compelling and informative, When Kids Wrote the Headlines is, much like its subject matter, a no-nonsense documentary that tells its story and tells it well. 

Critic's Note: "When Kids Wrote the Headlines" picked up the top prize in the Indiana Spotlight competition at Indy Shorts. 

See full review of Grateful here. 

You may be surprised by just how much you find yourself getting hooked into Chain Stitched: The Work of Jerry Lee Atwood, a 7-minute doc short centered around western wear creator Jerry Lee Atwood, whose artistry features a ritual of eccentricities yet an artistry that has been embraced by country music musicians and Atwood fans worldwide. 

Writer/director John Scott knows that Atwood is a compelling enough figure to hold everyone's interest in this film and wisely avoids any unnecessary gimmicks or special effects in favor of a simple, straightforward doc that's simply a lot of fun to watch. 

For more information on Chain Stitched: The Work of Jerry Lee Atwood, visit the film's official website. 

© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic