Indy Film Fest


Indy Film Fest 2012: BILLI & THEODORE

Posted by Amanda Harbeck

Melanie Woods Guest post by Melanie Woods
Bio: Comm/marketing pro. Indy-ophile. Colts junkie. Art addict. Movie collection ranges from Harry Potter to  City  of God.

It takes all of five minutes of knowing me to figure out that I love Indianapolis. By extension, I love Indiana, though not all aspects of it admittedly. So I am naturally inclined to love any film that is made by a Hoosier, stars Hoosiers and features Hoosier staples such as the Dunes, Monument Circle and Hot Box Pizza’s “boner-inducing” breadsticks and cheese.

Casting aside my bias, “Billi & Theodore” is really good. I was hooked from the opening scene, which may involve sock puppets and sex. It’s about as weird as it sounds. Billi is an aspiring puppeteer who dreams of being the next Jim Henson. She’s also gay, which is a nonissue until later in the film when it becomes an issue at a small town bar. Theodore just left his abusive girlfriend and drove straight to Billi’s, despite the fact that they haven’t spoken in three years.

The pair used to be best friends but life drove them apart, as it sometimes does. The opening scenes of the film are very true to reality. It’s uncomfortable and awkward to watch them figure out how to be around each other again. As with most true friendships, however, it doesn’t take them long to get over it and soon Billi is agreeing to drive up to Michigan City with Theodore to get his stuff out of his ex-girlfriend’s house.

For the remainder of the film, we follow Billi and Theodore on a road trip that should have taken hours but ends up taking days. Along the way, they encounter a carjacker, homophobes, random hookups, lot lizards, pizza grams, shrooms, pentagrams and a Wiccan, among other things. And of course as they take a literal trip north through the state, they also undergo a metaphorical journey of rediscovering their friendship and figuring out what’s next in their lives.

What I loved most about this film is how real and natural the friendship felt. A movie based on this scenario has to have strong, believable leads and Jordan McRae (Billi) and Travis Emery (Theodore) do not disappoint. Backed by a solid script with dialog that doesn’t feel forced, this film simply takes you along for the ride. You peek in on these moments of their lives and become more at home with the characters with each passing minute of the movie.

On top of all that, “Billi & Theodore” has a great soundtrack. I particularly enjoyed “We Let Our Grades Slip” by Yearbook Committee. And I definitely recommend sticking around during the credits for a bonus musical performance featuring Jordan McRae.

You won’t want to miss “Billi & Theodore” so be sure to mark your calendars for Saturday, July 21, and Thursday, July 26, when the film screens during the festival.

Billi & Theodore
Ronald Short 2011
Categories: Featured, Hoosier Lens Features

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The 9th annual Indianapolis International Film Festival features more than 100 films in 10 days. July 19-29 at IMA and Earth House. See the entire 2012 line up!


Indy Film Fest 2012: TRESPASSERS

Posted by Amanda Harbeck

Heike Baird Guest post by Heike Baird
Bio: Heike is a social media specialist for BLASTmedia. She also blogs for Indianapolis Monthly and puts hot  sauce  on everything.

When I imagine the Christmas movie genre, I think of chestnut-roasted classics that conclude with a loving family gathered around a dinner table, each person gazing fondly upon his or her treasured relatives, eyeballs glistening and hearts brimming with season’s greetings.

What I don’t usually imagine is a film where a family questions its togetherness and throws knives at each other after a random act of burglary on Christmas Eve. (Note: I also don’t usually imagine watching Christmas movies at all on humid nights in July, but I made an exception for this film.)

Bisperas (Trespassers) is a Filipino drama that puts a Catholic family under the magnifying glass as they endure an emotional night of betrayal and doubt within their brood—all thanks to a burglar who chose Christmas Eve to ransack their home. The film is a family drama, but the heavy religious themes weigh on you like a 500-pound Christmas tree.

Because in this Filipino town, everyone’s Catholic. No one misses Mass, and no one would be caught dead on Christmas Eve without candles and a hymnbook. This overt religiosity is what provokes the stark contrasts of the film—and these contrasts were what I found most compelling. For example, the contrast between the lifestyle of the central family members and their live-in maid. The contrast between the reverent Mary and Joseph actors in the Christmas processional and the nearby food vendors stuffing sausages to sell. And the contrast between the grandmother’s pious behavior in Mass and the way she snubs begging children on the street.

The character studies are stirring, and the director’s sparse, minimalist approach to cinematography gets the camera out of the way and lets the characters speak for themselves. At times, you might think you’re watching a documentary because the style is so understated and the acting so natural.

In fact, the acting is so raw that the film can feel a little like eating dinner at a friend’s house, when suddenly her parents get into a nasty fight, and you’re still picking at your plate feeling horribly awkward and self-conscious. This is no reason to skip the film. Rather, I found the actors to be just as simultaneously charming, funny, and sometimes unlikeable as real people, and that’s a considerable thespian feat.

If you take a seat at this Christmas table, be prepared for a unique take on what it means to be authentically spiritual and devoted to your family. Bisperas might be the most angst-filled Christmas movie you’ll see this year, but the thoughts you’ll leave with will be far meatier than the peanut-brittle-grade fare at the Cineplex.

Jeffrey Jeturian 2011
Categories: World Cinema Features

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The 9th annual Indianapolis International Film Festival features more than 100 films in 10 days. July 19-29 at IMA and Earth House. See the entire 2012 line up!



Posted by Amanda Harbeck

Kelly Millspaugh Guest post by Kelly Millspaugh
Bio: Office Manager at Formstack. Addicted to coffee and discovering new music. I prefer cold weather and speak sarcasm fluently.

Feelings are complicated, hard to understand, and at times completely out of our control. The feelings of those around you are always out of your control. If you agree with either of these statements you will relate to this Terence Nance film.

"An Oversimplification of Her Beauty" begins by giving the viewer a short synopsis of a young man's evening via narration: Imagine you arrive at home excited because an individual with whom you currently have more than friendly feelings for is coming over. Then they call and say they are not coming. The narrator and Nance ask the question: "How would you feel?" The film continues and gives more and more details and context to the evening in question.

Watching this film was a little like listening to a close friend describe in detail an interaction she or he had with a boy or girl. What they were wearing, how close they stood, when he smiled, when he seemed indifferent, what she said when they left, what he didn't say, what she wishes she had said…etc., etc. I have often been asked the "How would you feel?" or "What would you have done?" question. It is easy to put yourself in Nance's shoes. The details and context given make you feel like you are there and I found myself wishing I could talk to them and help them figure out what was going on between them. The film is unique because you also get reactions and commentary from Namik, the other side of this "will they, won't they" couple.

Nance does more than just give you details of his current relationship. He also examines relationships from the past. These segments were often animated and did an outstanding job of illustrating what happens when you give your heart to someone. The animation also illustrates the profound differences between fantasy and reality, between what we hope for and what really exists. Spending all evening imagining what could or should have happened isn't exactly productive, or healthy, but a lot of us have been there. If only they would have shown up, given me a chance, or just listened to me then we would be together and it would perfect.

This film is an over-analyzers dream. The romantics will watch it and feel an immense kinship to Terence as he tries to deconstruct years of experiences and interactions and come up with a good reason why things haven't progressed. Nance should be praised for being so transparent and opening his thoughts to the world and to Namik. If you liked "(500) Days of Summer" then you don't want to miss "An Oversimplification of Her Beauty".

An Oversimplification of Her Beauty
Terence Nance 2012
Categories: American Spectrum Features

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The 9th annual Indianapolis International Film Festival features more than 100 films in 10 days. July 19-29 at IMA and Earth House. See the entire 2012 line up!


Indy Film Fest 2012: 311: IN THE MOMENT

Posted by Amanda Harbeck

Claire Brosman Guest post by  Claire Brosman
Bio: Exploring how to build my life with my hands -- from my clothing to my soap and everything in between (while remaining socially

You’ve seen the news footage and probably listened to the stories of some of the 2011 Japanese Earthquake and Tsunami survivors, but when did your news feed stop? While other world events have happened, drawing many people’s attention elsewhere, the people of Japan are facing every day what it will take to go on with life. "311: In the Moment" is a documentary that explores what a handful of Japanese women are doing to rebuild and move forward.

This film, released only a year after the Tsunami devastated Japan, is full of broken landscapes and harsh realities. This very real look at post-Tsunami Japan doesn’t take liberties to manipulate the viewer’s feelings, whether through stylized cinematography or inclusion of emotional interviews. A film exploring a natural disaster of such magnitude needs nothing more than people’s personal stories to pummel my emotions.

There’s so much good happening in Japan right now in the midst of destruction. The sheer fact that people are moving on from such a catastrophic disaster and rebuilding communities is amazing. More than that, the fact that this film focuses on the strength of women leading parts of this rebuilding process is important, and for that reason I appreciate the story that "311: In the Moment" is telling.

311:In the moment
Kyoko Gasha 2011
Categories: Matter of Fact Features

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The 9th annual Indianapolis International Film Festival features more than 100 films in 10 days. July 19-29 at IMA and Earth House. See the entire 2012 line up!


Indy Film Fest 2012: ARCADIA

Posted by Amanda Harbeck

Guest Post by Joe Ball
Bio: Proud Hoosier. Consumer of movies, music, smart jokes, tacos & bourbon. Attempting to grow up without  selling out.

Any time I need to sort out my thoughts, I go for a drive; often in silence and with the windows down. It’s not that I’m trying to escape from my problems, but rather the drive provides an opportunity to gain some distance and perspective so that I can work through things in my mind. When I return home, my mind is clear and I feel refreshed.

The family featured in “Arcadia” is certainly gaining distance and perspective as they move from New England to their new home in California. The film tells the coming-of-age story of Greta (Ryan Simpkins) and her siblings as they head west in a beat-up station wagon with their father, Tom (played by a personal favorite of mine, John Hawkes). Through jokes, stories and songs, Tom attempts to keep everyone upbeat through the move; he’ll even lie if it helps get them to California quicker. He believes their new home will be better for everyone and promises a backyard swimming pool and 300 days of sunshine. There’s even an opportunity to visit the Grand Canyon along their journey.

But as they get farther from their old home and the memory of their mother, tensions build. Soon everyone finds themselves in dangerous and uncomfortable situations, both inside and out of the station wagon. Tom is often away on secretive phone calls. He’ll yell at the kids if they disobey his orders. He even snaps at family friends they visit in Oklahoma. He tries to remain positive and do what’s best for the family, but everything drives his children further away from him. Greta longs to see her mother and won’t stop asking about her. Why haven’t they heard from her in so long?

After winning acclaim for her senior thesis project, “Little Canyon”, at Sundance in 2009, Olivia Silver decided to revamp her debut into a full-length feature. As the result, “Arcadia” offers a raw glimpse into a dysfunctional family falling apart before your eyes. Think of the family in “Little Miss Sunshine” without the comedic relief of Alan Arkin or the burlesque-strip routine during a beauty pageant, and that’s “Arcadia”. John Hawkes offers up another great performance to an already underrated career. The child actors (Ryan Simpkins, Kendall Toole and Ty Simpkins) also show tremendous range and promise.

The film is easily relatable to those who have taken long road trips with family. Somewhere in the middle of the trip, you hardly recognize your surroundings, those around you have become mortal enemies and the memory of home seems so far away. When you do finally return home, you feel stronger and perhaps closer with your family, for having survived.

ARCADIA Olivia Silver 2012
Categories: American Spectrum Features, Featured

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The 9th annual Indianapolis International Film Festival features more than 100 films in 10 days. July 19-29 at IMA and Earth House. See the entire 2012 line up!


Indy Film Fest 2012: THE DAY I SAW YOUR HEART

Posted by Amanda Harbeck

Kate Franzman Guest post by  Kate Franzman
Bio: Copywriter at Pivot Marketing in Fountain Square. I love very old things and very new things. Francophile. Roller girl. Cat lady.

What a coincidence. I’m sitting here watching French film, The Day I Saw Your Heart, a romantic-comedy drama set in Paris, just days before I too will set foot in The City of Light.

Also coincidence, this story follows a 27-year old quirky girl with daddy issues, (played by Mélanie Laurent, Inglorious Basterds, Beginners), and her dysfunctional family. But we won’t get in to that.

Our heroine, Justine, struggles with commitment, listens to old David Bowie covers, and uses her employer’s private MRI machines to make “X-Ray Art”

After a trail of boyfriends, Justine thinks she has found The One, a hunky shoe salesman, but her temporary happiness is thrown when her neurotic 60-year-old Jewish father (Michel Blanc) suffers a delayed midlife crisis and announces that his young second wife is expecting a baby.

Justine and her half-sister Dom, who is trying to adopt, are rather annoyed at the news.

Coupled with resentment about her father’s absence when she was growing up, causes her to spiral into self-doubt. Overflowing with French charm, Justine gets by with the help of her family, friends, and newly discovered muse.

P.S. If this film were remade in the US, it would totally star Zooey Deschanel.

The Day I Saw Your Heart
Jennifer Devoldère 2011
Categories: World Cinema Features

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The 9th annual Indianapolis International Film Festival features more than 100 films in 10 days. July 19-29 at IMA and Earth House. See the entire 2012 line up!



Posted by Amanda Harbeck

Evan Strange Guest post by Evan Strange
Bio: I'm an Indianapolitan working in tourism who loves tasty food, live music and just about every type of film.

A lot of times when people – including myself - head to film festivals or watch a really good independent flick, they immediately turn in to something similar to the wine snobs we know too well.

We’ve all seen them.

With their constant swirling, sniffing, and slurping trying to find exactly what type of citrus they smell in their Sauvignon Blanc. Or the type of cattle that produced the leather in the leathery notes of their Malbec.

They will never simply say "man, I just really dig this wine, because well, I dig it."

You get the point.

Under that same medical-exam-like scrutiny, people can get caught up in trying to find a lesson or a reason behind a movie and miss out on what the film actually is – in the case of Somebody Up There Likes Me, just a good, quirky film.

No real lesson or statement, just a progression through 35 years of one man's life and the odd events that occur.

The movie starts off with a bang, as the central character Max walks in on an event that sets the entire film in motion. From that point forward we move through years of his life and watch as he aloofly deals and reacts to the many things thrown at him.

A rendezvous in a shed. Meeting the breadstick-toting love of his life. Luckily inheriting an absurd amount of life changing money. The list goes on.

Suitcase in hand, Max simply goes with the flow of life and really, that’s what makes this movie so intriguing.

If there were a lesson or a point that Austin-based filmmaker Bob Byington left with me it would be this: the only thing in life you can control is your own actions, and even if you make terrible decisions, things could actually turn out decently. Except when you start thinking you’ll live forever.

But really, this film is just about a man on a ride that is life.

This is a terrific movie made even better by the constant presence of Nick Offerman (Ron Swanson on Parks & Recreation), and I urge you to go see it.

Don’t get distracted by trying to find a theme or a lesson as I did. Instead, as one friend told me, “just go with it”.

Bob Byington 2012
Categories: American Spectrum Features, Closing Night, Featured

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The 9th annual Indianapolis International Film Festival features more than 100 films in 10 days. July 19-29 at IMA and Earth House. See the entire 2012 line up!


Indy Film Fest 2012: ANDREW BIRD: FEVER YEAR

Posted by Amanda Harbeck

Brian Wyrick Guest post by Brian Wyrick
Bio: I am Brian, I like many things. Sometimes I like to write about them or share them.

"Andrew Bird: Fever Year” – Catch it at the Indianapolis Film Fest Before it Flies Away

“Andrew Bird: Fever Year” is a snapshot of Andrew Bird. It is a moving picture taken over a year of touring, and laid out before the viewer in one hour and twenty minutes. A beautiful film that is sipped, not gulped; should you choose to partake, you will be treated to selections from a Milwaukee performance while spending time with Andrew on his family farm, in the studio, and of course, on the road.

I imagine that there are two primary viewers of this film. Those who know who Andrew Bird is, and those who do not. I’ll admit that I sit firmly in the latter camp and prior to viewing knew nothing of this documentary’s subject. To be honest I found this surprising, as I am familiar with many of the film’s musician cameos, and consider myself fairly informed of independent music (I’ll consider this yet another facet of aging). This film does a great job of introducing Andrew in a way that wouldn’t insult his fans, with brief back-story moments woven throughout.

Being a touring musician is work that takes its toll, and it is apparent throughout the film that Andrew has worked for his success. The film is a quiet ride with peaks of concert footage folded into serene scenes of Andrew’s family farm and his renovated barn studio. There is also an awkwardness to the film that comes from Andrew’s narration and personality that feels mildly indulgent, yet confident and tasteful. I left feeling appropriately satisfied, neither terribly excited for more, nor overstuffed of artist ego.

Definitely a film worth checking out if you are a fan of Andrew’s or music in general. It is also worth noting that there is a chance this could be your only opportunity. Bird currently has no desire to release the film outside of the festival circuit.

Andrew Bird: Fever Year
Xan Aranda 2011
Categories: Matter of Fact Features

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The 9th annual Indianapolis International Film Festival features more than 100 films in 10 days. July 19-29 at IMA and Earth House. See the entire 2012 line up!


Indy Film Fest 2012: AMERICAN MAN

Posted by Amanda Harbeck

Daniel Fahrner Guest post by Daniel Fahrner
Bio: Marketing Man @SmallBox by day, underground strategy board game enthusiast and music business  professional by night. Proud papa to be.

Don’t hate the player, hate the game. Not sure I’ve ever actually used that adage in my life, but let’s roll with it... In the case of 'American Man', or 90’s NFL star Kevin Turner (nicknamed KT), hating the game isn’t quite so black and white. After all, it gave his entire life meaning and purpose.

This emotional documentary follows KT’s journey through the middle stages of ALS, commonly referred to as Lou Gehrig’s disease. ALS is a disease of the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord that causes muscle tissue to break down over the course of a few years and ultimately renders sufferers completely stationary. It’s a personal prison.

The cause for KT’s debilitating case of ALS can be traced to his 8 season run in the NFL, where, similar to his peers, he suffered dozens of severe concussions. KT could easily view this diagnosis as death row, but instead embraces the intense card that God has dealt him and uses his disease as a platform to raise awareness. Humanity at it’s finest, I tell ya.

OK, enough with the setup... let’s talk about how this disease changed the game for KT, the NFL and for me. The ALS phenomenon in pro football is a direct result of our culture’s appetite for brutality. We simply can’t get enough. Every year the hits need to be bigger and the players need to recover faster.

However, this inspirational film gives us hope that additional diagnoses of sports-related diseases such as ALS can be prevented with education. The work of KT and other ex NFL players affected by ALS has since resulted in tougher regulations on tackles and reminds fans like myself that these players are no more than human.

All of this said, the question I was left with was: now knowing the outcome, would KT have chosen a different path? Would he decline an opportunity to make an impact on the world through sacrifice? You tell me.

Jon Frankel 2012
Categories: Matter of Fact Features

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The 9th annual Indianapolis International Film Festival features more than 100 films in 10 days. July 19-29 at IMA and Earth House. See the entire 2012 line up!


Indy Film Fest 2012: DOLLHOUSE

Posted by Amanda Harbeck

Kelly Millspaugh Guest post by Kelly Millspaugh
Bio: Office Manager at Formstack. Addicted to coffee and discovering new music. I prefer cold weather and speak  sarcasm fluently.

Teenagers, secrets, and a night of debauchery? Think you've 'been there done that'? Well, you're wrong in this case. "Dollhouse'', conceived and directed by Kirsten Sheridan, definitely breaks the mold with this emotional and mysterious film. The script was more of an outline that allowed the actors to improvise and discover their characters over time. This gives the film a natural ebb and flow that at times feels uncomfortable in the right ways. The emotions are too real, and the reactions are too natural. Those of us used to guessing what happens next are left with dumbfounded expressions by final act.

The film takes place in a wealthy suburb in Ireland. Five teenagers enter a house and quickly begin what appears to be their normal routine of drinking, drugs, and destruction. One of the teens behaves differently, treating the house and it's decor with respect. Eventually one of her friends discovers a box of pictures of her in the dining room, it's her house. This revelation coupled with the appearance of the "boy next door" begins a roller coaster of highs and lows, literally and figuratively.

The lack of a script makes for some confusion and awkward moments, and moments of true tension and anger. Different elements are thrown into the mix every time you think you know where things are going. The common elements of teen dramas of the past are definitely mixed in. At times I felt I was watching a modern day "The Breakfast Club", only take them out of detention and put them in a house full of booze and drugs. One of my favorite aspects of the film were the song choices. Notably Lose Your Soul by Dead Man's Bones, a fantastic band fronted by Ryan Gosling, and an eerie cover of Pure Imagination by the National Performing Arts School. These songs captured the feel of the film perfectly and added to the mystery.

Watching "Dollhouse" is a little bit like becoming a teenager again for 95 minutes. Watching their emotions seamlessly transition from happy to manic and then to anger. At times you think they may physically harm one another, and in other moments you expect them to give in to feelings of lust and attraction. Ultimately "Dollhouse" is a film that raises more questions than it answers, but takes the viewer on a ride that leaves you wondering and attempting to fill in the blanks.

Kirsten Sheridan 2012
Categories: Featured, World Cinema Features

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The 9th annual Indianapolis International Film Festival features more than 100 films in 10 days. July 19-29 at IMA and Earth House. See the entire 2012 line up!