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The Independent Critic

Amy Hunter, Thomas Duszynski, Justin Phillips, Ashley Sorrell, and James McKinney
Hannah West
14 Mins.


 "Not in Vain" has World Premiere at 2017 Heartland Film Festival 

Hannah West's 14-minute short doc Not in Vain is a timely, emotionally honest doc having its world premiere at the 2017 Heartland Film Festival in Indianapolis as part of the Indiana Spotlight Program Shorts 2 block of films. The film takes a look inside the growing epidemic of opioid addiction, an addiction that is certainly an Indiana crisis and could and should be referred to as a national health crisis. 

West's doc weaves itself into the lives of several Hoosiers who discuss their relationship with the current crisis in Indiana, a crisis that really started to get attention following an HIV outbreak in Scott County and a crisis that has led to drastic measures being taken by former Governor Pence and current Governor Holcomb. Through the struggles and experiences of those portrayed, West illustrates the severity of a problem that is often swept under the rug by community leaders, media and communities at large. 

Not in Vain is a fairly straightforward doc, West skips the bells n' whistles in favor of an approach of simply allowing people to tell their often tragic and nearly constantly poignant stories to the camera. 

West has a clear gift for dramatic resonance and yet brings it out of her subjects without it ever feeling manufactured. The stories, and I'd be resistant to picking just one, are all powerful reminders of the tremendous diversity of lives impacted by opioids, most specifically heroin. 

Not in Vain is the kind of film that makes me anxious to watch West's future work and here's hoping we'll see her popping up at Heartland Film Fest again.

© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic