Here are more of my picks for the Heartland Film Festival. The festival runs from Oct. 16 through Oct. 25 at theaters around Indianapolis.
1. “I’M WITH PHIL” (Official Selection) : A fun and moving feature-length documentary concerning a series of events that transpire in a small Alabama town called Phil Campbell. Phil Campbell of Brooklyn, sets out on a journey to find the town after he learns of the existence through an episode of “Hee Haw”. Phil turns to the internet and organizes a convention in the town for all the other people in the world that share the name of Phil Campbell. But when a deadly disaster strikes the town, his stunt takes on an entirely different tone. This documentary follows the incredible lengths to which people will go for strangers, as Phil Campbells from all over the world gather to help rebuild and restore the town that shares their name. Directed by Andrew Reed and with a cast of real life Phil Campbells, this documentary film will open your eyes and warm your heart.
2. “THE HEALING WALL” (Indiana Spotlight – Special Presentation) : Written and Directed by Indiana native/Ball State graduate Christopher Kosinski, this is a must see power driven documentary feature film about the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall. Their story. Her design. A nation’s memorial. The story is about the development of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C. and its unforeseen ability to heal a nation from one of the most controversial conflicts of history. Family, Friends and Students of all ages will get a clear understanding of what this wall stands for, the emotions behind it and why it is so important to our honor our past veterans and their loved ones. I have never been to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial but it is on my list now. I was amazed at the history and sheer beauty of this beautiful monument. Kosinski explains in detail why it is important to remember the real heroes who lost their lives fighting for our nation in times of chaos. The interviews, research and footage from this documentary make the audience appreciate those who have fought and are currently fighting for our freedom and rights. This film is part of the Special Indiana Spotlight Presentation and will be shown with two other local films “Three Months” and “We’ll Be Alright.” Be sure to add “The Healing Wall” to your list of must-see films. It is an eye opener and Kosinski does it justice.
3. “AUDREY MAKES A MIXTAPE” (Official Shorts Selection – Shorts Program 3): I screened and fell in love with “Audrey Makes a Mixtape” a short film by the hip writer/director James Mackenzie. Mackenzie knows how to bring life to the typical teen issue of how to snag the most popular boy in high school. Set in 1988, Audrey has the perfect plot … a blank cassette tape. Sound corny or a bit off ? Not at all when this delightful story unfolds as she hopes to save her crush from losing his virginity to the queen bee. The music and story will make the audience laugh and long for the simple days of high school. “Audrey Makes a Mixtape” can be seen in the Shorts Program 3 (The Many Faces of Love”). Don’t miss out on this hilarious but tender story of the hardships of life as a high school teenager searching for love.
> 4, DRUNKTOWN’S FINEST (Festival Award Winner) : Life on an Indian reservation can often feel like a dead end for many of the residents. This film captures and represents a variety of lifestyles that are often misunderstood in such a close-knit community. Three young Native Americans, an adopted Christian girl, a rebellious father-to-be, and a promiscuous transexual are forced to deal with their identities and must confront these perceptions. They play out against the back drop of the traditional values of the reservation which both constrains and supports them. Nizhoniis is a traditional college student trying to find her place in the world. She was adopted into a Christian upbringing but is conflicted and wants to learn more about her blood relatives’ superstitious beliefs. Sick Boy is a young father-to-be trying hard to provide for his family but must choose between his friend’s drunken, partying lifestyle and his girlfriends’s demands for him to grow up. Felixia is a promiscuous transexual who finds herself constantly fighting against the reservation’s hostility in her pursuit and dreams to become a successful model. The film makes one think about how we treat and perceive others. Although the film is based on an Indian Reservation it made me realize that people everywhere face the same type of problems and hardships. The film was written and directed by Sydney Freeland who captured the Indian Lifestyle and made it come to life. Robert Redford was an executive producer on this project and the audience will definitely feel his flair and emotional ties to this wonderful movie. I loved this film because it was real — it makes one try to understand a culture that is rich with tradition and pride. A film that will make the audience think about life and how we all strive to be something or someone. This film confronts viewers with the reality of life on the reservation, the staleness that make people want to leave and the power unity that keeps so many there.
5. “GABOR” (Festival Award Winner) : “Gabor” is the very powerful documentary story of a friendship between a young filmmaker and a blind cinematographer, Sebas and Gabor. Sebas has been commissioned to make a documentary on the work of Ulls Del Mon, an NGO (non-governmental organization) dedicated to the prevention of blindness that wants to promote the work it is carrying out in El Alto, Bolivia. Sebas recalls his cameraman told him a story about Gabor, a cinematographer who had gone blind. Gabor, a Hungarian filmmaker residing in Spain, has been making a living from his film camera rental company ever since he went blind on a shoot eight years ago. Sebas contacts him and suggests that they work together on the project, but the question remains how will Gabor manage to film if he can’t see? Everyone will love this film about determination, loyalty and hope. I was touched by this remarkable story and friendship between two men on a mission. Don’t miss the film “Gabor,” it will open your own eyes into the world of blindness and touch your heart and soul.