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The Independent Critic

Marlie McDonald
Sam A. Davis, Rayka Zehtabchi
7 Mins.

 "Just Hold On" a Sublime, Feel Good Experience 

There's something seriously wrong with you if you don't fall completely in love with seven-year-old Marlie McDonald, the precious and resilient subject of the SXSW award-winning short doc Just Hold On. 

Marlie's a rock star and you can feel that from the opening short of Sam A. Davis and Rayka Zehtabchi's vibrant and life-affirming seven-minute short film that's screening this week as part of the Family-Friendly block of films at the 2020 Indy Shorts International Film Festival. The film marks a return to Indy Shorts for previous award-winner Mehrdad Sarlak, the producer of this guaranteed to please flick. 

Marlie is a symbol of resilience and vigor. Born with an aggressive brain tumor, she spent her early years in hospitals but today is in long-term survival care and lay claim to being a bona fide mutton-bustin champion. 

In case you don't know, that's riding sheep and she's really, really good at it. 

It might be her fiery red hair, but the minute you lay eyes on Marlie McDonald you absolutely love her and that love never wanes over the course of this remarkably feel-good, incredibly spirited short film. Marlie's survival spirit is infection as the wannabe spy holds on to life, her family and, of course, those incredibly adorable sheep. 

Sam A. Davis's lensing is pristine and gives the film an extra wow factor, while Giosue Greco's original score is zesty and just plain enjoyable. Even the film's closing credits are designed with a spark of life guaranteeing that you'll feel much better after watching the film than you did going into it. 

Just Hold On is precisely the kind of film that Indy Shorts audiences love with its good heart, tremendous energy, magnificent kid, and truly moving visuals from beginning to end. The film's Grand Jury Award for Texas Film at SXSW easily deserved, Just Hold On continues on its festival circuit and is definitely you'll want to check out during its week at Indy Shorts. 

Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic