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The Independent Critic

Zion Clark, Gilbert Donahue, Kimberly Hawkins
Floyd Russ
11 Mins.


 "Zion" Screening at Indy Shorts as Finalist  

Floyd Russ's 11-minute inspirational doc Zion is a portrait of Zion Clark, a young wrestler who was born without legs and grew up in foster care after being abandoned by his parents at the hospital. Having spent most of his adolescence in foster care, Zion began wrestling in second grade and wrestling became a therapeutic release for the young man who remained surprisingly optimistic throughout his childhood challenges. Adopted in his teens, Zion's growth into a successful wrestler and young man is the kind of inspirational story that is embraced at Heartland and the film should prove to be a popular one at the inaugural Indy Shorts Film Festival in Indianapolis where it screens as a finalist. 

Assuming Zion receives the expected warm embrace from Indy Shorts, this Academy Award qualifying festival won't be alone. Zion has already picked up several awards along its festival journey including Best Documentary Short at Atlanta Film Festival, Best International Short Doc at Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival, Best Short Film at Omaha Film Festival, and the Audience Award - Special Recognition at Aspen's ShortsFest. 

Let's face it. Folks love a feel good story and Zion is a feel good story. 

If anything, Zion might be a little bit too feel good. Gregory J. Wilson's lensing bathes the muscular, introspective young man in adoration worthy of champions, while Victor Magro's original music for the film hits all the dramatic heights of Zion's story lest we dare not be inspired by this young man's perseverance and fortitude. 

It's all a bit much, really, a layer of unnecessary histrionics at times overwhelming a story that needs no such approach to inspire, inform and to simply be downright entertaining. Zion Clark is the kind of young man that young schoolkids listen to in school convocations, not because of his disability but precisely becuase he refuses to be defined by it. He's the kind of young man you can't help but be drawn to, especially in those moments of vulnerability when he eloquently shares how these challenges have made him into a stronger human being. 

Zion is a good film about a great young man.

Zion will screen twice during Indy Shorts as part of the Finalist Shorts 2 Collection:

  • Friday, July 27th at 4:30pm inside The Toby at Newfields
  • Saturday, July 28th at 3:45pm also inside The Toby

For more information on Indy Shorts, visit the Indy Shorts website. 

Critic's Note: Zion picked up the prize for Best Documentary Short at Indy Shorts. 

© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic