Indy's Heartland Film Festival is famous for bringing in some of the world's most life-changing cinema. Such will be the case during the 2017 Heartland Film Festival running from October 12-22 at venues throughout Indianapolis including this delightful and entertaining short film from Latvian filmmaker Pavel Gumennikov, Just Go, starring Aleksandrs Ronis as Just, who lost both of his legs in childhood accident and who is in love with the girl next door, leva (Jana Herbsta). The story begins when Just meets Ieva on the doorstep of the house they both live in. They start a flirty conversation that is interrupted by two thieves ( Toms Veļičko and Sergejs Fjodorovs), who rob Ieva in front of Just.
In the blink of an eye Just decides to follow the thieves to retrieve Ieva's bag and conquer her heart!
With a story inspired by Ronis, who lost his legs in a railway accident at the age of six and became one of Latvia's best sitting volleyball players by the age of 15, Just Go avoids the usual drippy sentimentality in favor of a real life, empowering inspiration not often found in films about and starring folks with disabilities. Ronis has an easy, laid back charm that is infinitely watchable and his natural chemistry with Jana Herbsta makes for a quick, breezy yet believable romantic flick with nicely constructed and choreographed action sequences.
Laura Lapina's script is refreshingly light with the disability stereotypes, projecting Just as a guy's guy who just so happens to also be missing a couple limbs and frequently utilize a wheelchair. It's a difficult balance to maintain, yet Lapina does so quite nicely.
Just Go has already proven quite successful on the film festival circuit including picking up awards at HollyShorts (Best Romance Short Film), Sidewalk Film Festival (Audience Award, Best Narrative Short), Stony Brook Film Festival (Audience Award), Noosa International Film Festival (Best Humanitarian Short), and three prizes at Stella Adler Sweet and Short including Best Short, Best Director and Best Cinematography.
Just Go is unabashedly warm and winning without being saccharine and includes a refreshing reframing of disability, not shying away from showing the villains in the film first try to outrun then try to simply exploit Just's physical challenges with little success. Rather than being played for comic effect, it's instead rather dashing and debonair and that's simply a delight.
For the entire scoop on the 2017 Heartland Film Festival and Just Go's screening information, check out Heartland Film.