Indy Film Fest

10Jul/130

IIFF 2013 :: BLOOD BROTHER

Posted by Kate Pell

Guest post by Chad Dickerson

BLOOD BROTHER is sponsored by Eskenazi Health

Simply put, BLOOD BROTHER is a touching and honest film about a young American from Pittsburgh who travels to India and finds his family, a family that consists of a group of children living together with HIV, and decides to dedicate his life to caring for them and giving them the love and respect we all deserve.

The film opens with a scene of two men lifting a girl from the pavement, naked except the blanket that covers her, hurriedly attempting to transport her by motorcycle to a hospital, only to realize along the way that she has become lifeless.  Such is the life of Rocky, a young man who has decided to dedicate his life to children living with HIV. As you watch, you see the reality of HIV and the value that Rocky brings to the lives of these children.

A beautifully shot and well-made film, BLOOD BROTHER lays bare the story of Rocky, who grew up with his own fragmented family and stumbles upon a purpose for his life, a purpose so strong and certain that everyone who watches must envy him in some way, even if they can’t imagine living with the hardships that come with it.  And it’s the contradiction of hardship and joy this life brings that makes the film interesting.

This is an honest portrait of a young American in India. At times I expected the film to be sappy or for Rocky to come across as arrogant and self-righteous (why haven’t I given up my a/c and tv to help poor, HIV-infected children?!), but that never happened.  While I believed that Rocky really felt at home with these children half way around the world from where he grew up, he is able to admit the difficulty and suffering he has endured without portraying himself as a victim.  And at some point, I wanted to feel sad that he needed to be in a place so far away to find a family.  However, I also realize that some of us live our whole lives with our relatives and never have the true “family” that Rocky has found.

Rocky never puts it upon someone else to do what he has decided to do. He simply lives the life that works for him, which is what makes this story so inspiring.  And I hope that I can some day have such a tremendously wonderful impact on one person that Rocky has had on so many.

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The 2013 Indianapolis International Film Festival will take place July 18 to 28. Secure your tickets now for BLOOD BROTHER.

Saturday, July 20 @ 7:30 in the Toby

10Jul/130

IIFF 2013 :: HEY BARTENDER

Posted by Kate Pell

Guest post by Kelly Millspaugh
Addicted to coffee and discovering new music. I prefer cold weather and speak sarcasm fluently.

It’s 5pm and you walk out of your office completely beat. Where do you go? Happy Hour of course, but do you want just any drink or do you want something a little more special?

“You are 100 different things to 100 different people” one of the bartenders, featured in the documentary HEY BARTENDER asserts as he discusses his career. On any given night in any given city a bartender could be acting as a life coach, grief counselor, or mediator. These individuals are all of those things, but they are also artists and craftsmen.

In the past 10 years, the cocktail has had a resurgence in popularity and as a result cocktail lounges and speakeasy like bars have been popping up all over the country. Bartenders are educated, driven, and passionate about creating unique drinks and experiences for their customers. HEY BARTENDER gives you a brief glimpse into the world of craft cocktails and the men and women who create them.  Having visited The Libertine here in Indy it is easy for me to see how this culture is growing. These bars are usually a little smaller and cozier than your loud sports bar with big screen TVs and neon lights. The thing that is inviting about these establishments is the intimate and romantic vibe of having a cocktail made just for you. Watching the complicated and intricate process that is used to create your drink is a lot more enticing than someone simply popping the top off a beer and sliding it across the bar.

It may be easy for some people to dismiss bartending as a culinary art but after watching this documentary I am definitely a believer. These individuals deserve to be taken seriously for what they are doing and the craft they have mastered. So sit back and relax with your cocktail and enjoy learning more about what goes on behind the bar.

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The 2013 Indianapolis International Film Festival will take place July 18 to 28. Secure your tickets now for HEY BARTENDER.

Monday, July 22 @ 9:30 in the Libertine
Saturday, July 22 @ 12:30 in the DeBoest

9Jul/130

IIFF 2013 :: PERSISTENCE OF VISION

Posted by Kate Pell

Guest post by Melanie Woods
Communications/marketing professional, adjunct Communications professor, NFL junkie - GO COLTS, art collector, and proud Indy resident.

The average moviegoer isn’t likely familiar with the name Richard Williams – “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” fans aside – but they’ve undoubtedly experienced his impact on the filmmaking industry. Lauded as one of the greatest animators of all time, Williams’ intensity and passion for his craft is inspiring. But it also might be what prevented him from completing a film 30 years in the making that was supposed to be his masterpiece.

PERSISTENCE OF VISION follows the ups and downs of Williams’ journey to produce a full-length animated feature film that promised to be like nothing anyone had seen before. Williams refuses to speak about the film himself so the documentary relies on old footage of him discussing his work and interviews with various animators who drew for him over the years.

If you enjoy the process and the mastery behind animation and filmmaking, you will really enjoy this documentary. It’s incredible to see snippets of shorts from the 1950s that were groundbreaking back then but still magical and captivating to watch today. And you also get a sense of just how much work goes into every single second of every single frame. For example, one animator spent three months on a single scene that involved a deck of cards. Williams took one look at it, didn’t like the work and made the animator start over again.

Williams was not an easy person to work with but he brought out the best in his animators by pushing them to pay attention to detail and to attempt things no one else had done. To this day, he lives and breathes the craft and works hard to be unique and non-traditional. Early on, Williams was terrified of selling out and going too commercial, but he had to take on more mainstream work to fund the art he really wanted to make.

This all sets the stage for his ultimate passion project and the focus of the documentary: “The Thief and the Cobbler.” The film ran into financial issues early on and was pushed to the side but never forgotten by Williams. It also became somewhat of an urban legend among animators wondering if the film would ever be finished. But those who saw the initial scenes and artwork felt that it needed to be finished, that the work he was doing on this film would reinvent animation.

It wasn’t until the 90s that the film caught a break and seemed like it might actually be completed. Building off the success of “Who Killed Roger Rabbit,” Warner Brothers put some serious cash behind the film and promised to help promote it in theatres. It seemed like a lucky break but in the end it would be Warner Brothers who finally laid the project to rest. They pulled the plug on Williams and his crew but went on to complete the film, adding in a love story, musical numbers and other elements Williams despised about the typical Hollywood animated films of that time.

PERSISTENCE OF VISION is the untold story of the greatest animated film never made. And it’s one you won’t want to miss if you are at all interested in the creative process, the art of animation or the filmmaking industry in general.

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The 2013 Indianapolis International Film Festival will take place July 18 to 28. Secure your tickets now for PERSISTENCE OF VISION. 

Saturday, July 20 @ 6:30 in the DeBoest
Wednesday, July 24 @ 3:00 in the Toby

9Jul/130

IIFF 2013 :: TALES FROM THE ORGAN TRADE

Posted by Kate Pell

Guest post by Heike Baird
Heike Baird is a writer and film fan who resides in downtown Indianapolis. Heike's fixation on good films began with a childhood obsession with Mary Poppins. Her favorite movie ever is Waiting for Guffman. Oh—and her first name rhymes with Micah.

Would you give one of your kidneys to a stranger?

Would you give one of your kidneys to a stranger for $20,000?

In the David Cronenberg-narrated documentary TALES FROM THE ORGAN TRADE, the international black market exchange of human organs is exposed with grisly detail and gritty existential inquiry. The documentary follows several people involved in the trade as either a “criminal” surgeon, a desperate-for-cash donor, or a desperate-for-life patient.

You can dive into the ethical questions for yourself when the film screens, but let’s start with the facts: In the world today, human organs are scarce, and poor people are not. Given the opportunity, many of these poor people would welcome the chance to donate a non-requisite body part (like a kidney) in exchange for an incentive. A kidney donation has the potential to save two lives equally, providing a large, blessed sum of money to someone in dire need (one of the film’s donors, for example, lives in a crawlspace under someone else’s house) and providing a vital organ to save the life of someone who is suffering and is willing to pay for it.

The TALES FROM THE ORGAN TRADE filmmakers are granted unprecedented access to several key players in the underground organ trade world, including “Doctor Vulture” himself—the highly qualified doctor wielding the clinically sanitized (but ethically unsanitary) surgical tools that have sliced open thousands of eager abdomens. We, as viewers, are taken through the streets of Moldova, the Philippines, Canada, Kosovo, and beyond to see the real faces behind these very visceral, and very real, organ “donations” (or are they transactions?).

During my 70-ish minutes with the film, a few questions that began to materialize in my mind included:

  • What is exploitation?
  • Can you be exploited if you know all of the facts?
  • Should the government be able to regulate the voluntary donation of a person’s own organs?
  • Is it wrong to accept money for an altruistic act?

I appreciated the way that the film featured so many viewpoints instead of making the unpleasant mistake of sidling up to only one perspective. This movie is a real conversation starter for anyone who enjoys discussing morality, ethics, the state of healthcare, and the problem of poverty. Hearing about an illegal trade of organs is one thing; seeing the names and faces associated with the trade is quite another, and the faces of the people who talked about their experiences in this film continued to stay with me long after the last shots of shuttered kidney-transplant clinics in Kosovo had faded.

Note: If you’re not fond of video footage that includes surgery and blood, please don’t try to stomach this movie about surgery and blood.

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The 2013 Indianapolis International Film Festival will take place July 18 to 28. Secure your tickets now for TALES FROM THE ORGAN TRADE. 

Tuesday, July 23 @ 9:00 in the Toby
Friday, July 26 @ 6:30 in the DeBoest

8Jul/130

IIFF 2013 :: THE LONGER DAY OF HAPPINESS

Posted by Kate Pell

Guest post by Claire Brosman
Grant writer & storyteller for non-profits. Better composter than gardener. Obsessed with good food and where it comes from.

We meet Lisa Jones. We meet Jack Jones. And then we meet Garret Jones. They are grown adopted siblings with an overbearing mother. The setting is LA with a back drop of studio lots and stages, press events, and photo ops. Agents and PR reps surround the Jones siblings and their mother who are no strangers to fame. Their lives seemingly should be charmed, but they aren’t. Everybody is fighting with something in THE LONGER DAY OF HAPPINESS.

What compelled me to watch these characters' stories unfold was simply curiosity. What was driving each character into the downward spiral we find each in as the film opens? We get only a glimpse of one day in the life of these characters and so I never found those character motives or answers I was seeking, but I realize that’s kind of how life works.

Life isn’t neat. There aren’t always reasons for why we end up unhappy or make bad decisions. In life, people don’t always make sense. People aren’t always interesting or even likeable. And so, in this respect, director Shane Stevens pulls together a film about life that may be more realistic than it is enjoyable.

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The 2013 Indianapolis International Film Festival will take place July 18 to 28. Secure your tickets now for THE LONGER DAY OF HAPPINESS.

Sunday, July 21 @ 7:30 in the DeBoest
Wednesday, July 24 @ 7:00 in the Toby

8Jul/130

IIFF 2013 :: COLDWATER

Posted by Kate Pell

Guest post by Kelly Millspaugh
Addicted to coffee and discovering new music. I prefer cold weather and speak sarcasm fluently.

COLDWATER opens with a young man named Brad being forcibly removed from his home in the middle of the night and taken to a juvenile rehabilitation center called Coldwater. Brad was a bad kid. He sold drugs and had a bit of a temper when it came to his mother and her new boyfriend. He continued to disobey and his mother felt being taken to Coldwater was the only way he would avoid jail time and have a chance to be reformed. Coldwater is run by ex-military and not bound by any criminal justice system laws or standards. These young men may be bad seeds but they are treated like animals and put through the wringer in hopes of coming out as soft spoken gentlemen who wouldn’t hurt a fly. Brad initially rebels but learns that playing along is the only way he may be able to expose the truth about Coldwater and stop the inhumane treatment from continuing.

The film is shot well and the cast is very strong. PJ Boudousqué is excellent in his role as Brad. He had the ability to appear disengaged and emotionless when it was necessary but a subtle change in facial expression or sideways glance reminded you that this was a troubled guy who was just trying to survive. He does resemble Ryan Gosling physically but seems to also have Gosling's impressive range. I think we will see a lot more of him in the future. At times the violence and torture endured by the inmates is cringe-worthy but I think it’s necessary to really understand why these facilities are doing more harm than good. I have only really hinted at the storyline of the film because I do not want to reveal too much.

COLDWATER is mostly a drama but the third act is really more of a thriller. Ultimately, COLDWATER is a story that reveals that “good” guys and “bad” guys in life are not always easy to label.

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The 2013 Indianapolis International Film Festival will take place July 18 to 28. Secure your tickets now for COLDWATER.

Sunday, July 21 @ 8:30 in the Toby
Friday, July 26 @ 4:30 in the Toby

8Jul/130

IIFF 2013 :: THE BOUNCEBACK

Posted by Kate Pell

Guest post by Elizabeth Friedland
Senior PR Manager living the ad agency life. Voracious consumer (and sometimes publisher) of the written word, culture, politics and music.

THE BOUNCEBACK is one of those classic tales of unrequited love – if the unrequited loves simultaneously self-pleasured themselves on opposite coasts (dammed that empty Kleenex box), participated in Air Sex competitions (yes, it’s real – and really graphic) and slept their way around Austin, Texas (one of the better tourist activities. Er, or so I’ve heard).

The film opens with scenes familiar to pretty much every twenty or thirty something -- two Austinites are on a first date anyone would envy. There’s witty banter, liquid courage, and drunken kissing. Through a hipster-ish photomontage, we learn that Kathy and Stan (a delicious piece of Midwestern man candy played by Michael Stahl-David) have moved from fabulous first date to full-on relationship – until she moves to New York for medical school and he moves to L.A. to deliver pizza.

Stan is wallowing in his misery when he learns via Facebook that his beloved ex will be returning to Austin to visit her best friend (the trashy Kara). With hope in his heart and a tent in his pants, he books a ticket that direction – under the guise of visiting his best friend Jeff  – who just so happens to be Kara’s ex, and equally trash-tastic.

To recap, two sets of exes are gathering in Austin, where the weather is sultry, the beer is cheap, and the Air Sex Olympics are happening. It’s an R rated trifecta. The four friends are left to decide if they want to revisit their past relationships or give in to the temptation of a rebound fling. It’s the old heart versus groin dilemma, and the audience is left wondering which head will win out until the very last seconds of the movie. Predictable, it is not.

Yes, the film is crass. Don’t take children, your mother, or a first date -- or do, depending on how you’d like the night to end. But if you look beyond the simulated sodomy, dick pics and vagina jokes, you’ll find a “half creepy, half romantic” (as one character put it) tale as old as time. With relatable dialogue, slick editing choices and a recognizable peek into Austin’s bar scene (Death Metal Pizza, anyone?), THE BOUNCEBACK is a dirty romp in the sack with some tender post-coital cuddling. Just how we like it.

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The 2013 Indianapolis International Film Festival will take place July 18 to 28. Secure your tickets now for THE BOUNCEBACK. 

Saturday, July 20 @ 10:00 in the Toby
Friday, July 26 @ 6:30 in the Toby

7Jul/130

IIFF 2013 :: TINY, A STORY ABOUT LIVING SMALL

Posted by Kate Pell

Guest post by Dan Dark
Dan is a screener for the IIFF (Docs) and loves seeing movies in empty theaters. During the day he is Director of Content at Raidious.

 

“If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer.” - Henry David Thoreau, WALDEN

“The things you own, end up owning you.” - Tyler Durden, FIGHT CLUB

What is your home? Is it a place to store your stuff, a place to offer security, an investment? According to Christopher Smith, the director and star of the documentary TINY: A STORY ABOUT LIVING SMALL, your home is a reflection of what we value in our lives and how we want to live. Your home is your self portrait.

So when Smith, who says he lived in 20 different houses growing up, is approaching his 30th birthday and finds himself grappling with the need to settle down and buy a home, he struggles with what kind of life he wants to live and builds his home to suit that. He wants to build a tiny home with the help of his girlfriend and pull it out to a 5-acre plot he purchased in the mountains of Colorado.

Tiny homes are just what they sound like: homes that are 84 square feet, 110 square feet, 130 square feet -- there is no definitive size (though one common thread is that many of these homes are built on wheeled trailers as a loophole to minimum square-footage building laws). Their owners -- some single, some couples, some with cats -- build tiny houses for a variety of reasons. I broke them down accordingly:

  • The Tyler Durden: Rejection of the system.
  • The Hendy David Thoreau: Finding meaning in a simpler life, closer to nature.
  • The Al Gore: Environmentally friendly.
  • The Dave Ramsey: Live within your means.

All of these are, in their own way, about freedom. Freedom from the expectations of the American Dream that just doesn’t apply to everyone. Freedom in living how you want to live.

And yet, as unsurprising as it seems, the value of TINY: A STORY ABOUT LIVING SMALL as a documentary is that it is well-constructed, without fluff and efficiently told. The film’s tight 66 minutes keeps focused on Smith’s construction of his own tiny home, while interviewing a dozen or so other micro-home dwellers.

When I heard Smith narrating in the first person, I prepared myself for the worst, as I have encountered too many documentaries where the director and subject can’t seem to edit themselves out. This is what ultimately doomed documentaries like “Sharkwater” for me. TINY: A STORY ABOUT LIVING SMALL and Smith never fall into this trap. At points where Smith could focus on his personal struggles with his job or girlfriend, securing the funds to build, or long diatribes about how McMansions are evil or how the banking industry is unscrupulous, the film remains focused on the question of the home and what it means to have a tiny house.

To Smith, the world gets so much bigger when you’re living small. Your home is your self portrait. How you live is a reflection of what you value. In TINY: A STORY ABOUT LIVING SMALL, Smith says, “We all know what [home] is, even if we can’t describe it.” So sometimes you have to build it yourself.

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The 2013 Indianapolis International Film Festival will take place July 18 to 28. Secure your tickets now for TINY, A STORY ABOUT LIVING SMALL.

Sunday, July 21 @ 11:00 in the Toby
Tuesday, July 23 @ 1:00 in the DeBoest

7Jul/130

IIFF 2013 :: THE CLEANER

Posted by Kate Pell

Guest post by Claire Brosman
Grant writer & storyteller for non-profits. Better composter than gardener. Obsessed with good food and where it comes from.

In the way of stories, what THE CLEANER offers isn’t new. Eusebio Vela is a forensic cleaner during an epidemic sweeping Lima, Peru. He is lonely. Joaquin, an orphan, enters his life. Eusebio is changed. We all know that story and have seen a life transformed on screen again and again.

But the thing is the control first time director Adrian Saba brings to the film makes the story its own. Saba builds a world void of distractions and lets you linger in Eusebio’s life and his revelations. Dialogue is sparse, the soundtrack used sparingly and the takes are long and static. It’s beautiful to let the story unfold before you quietly and at its own pace, never compromising the story by telling too much. Really though, my screener paused mid-film and I didn’t notice anything was awry for a few seconds.

THE CLEANER is a Spanish language film, but highlighting it as such hardly seems relevant. Dialogue doesn’t dominate the story; you’ll take in the characters’ experiences and emotions through Eusebio’s low hung head and Joaquin’s furrowed eyebrows. A rarely employed soundtrack accompanies only a few scenes drawing focus instead to the sounds of the Eusebio’s broom on the pavement as he alone washes away death in the wake of the epidemic, the swishing of his suit as he moves from job to job or the sound of his breath as he sits alone in his apartment. And by stripping everything away, this film captures the magnitude of Eusebio’s metamorphosis.

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The 2013 Indianapolis International Film Festival will take place July 18 to 28. Secure your tickets now for THE CLEANER.

Saturday, July 20 @ 4:30 in the DeBoest
Tuesday, July 23 @ 6:30 in the DeBoest

Saturday, July 27 @ 11:30 in the Toby

6Jul/130

IIFF 2013 :: MILES TO GO

Posted by Kate Pell

Guest Post by Nik Browning
Began musical blogging under myspace/facebook dev. http://redrkr.blogspot.com/  http://redrkr2.blogspot.com/ - movies.

Miles is alone, listless. He runs at night because he has trouble sleeping. We learn at his therapist's office that he’s suffering from dumper’s remorse. A break-up which he initiated because he felt trapped, but now misses his ex. He realizes his selfishness of contacting her- as he simply wants some comfort without considering a future. But the ex soon forces his hand and provides an ultimatum. Full relationship or nothing. And Miles is cornered, needing to face his fears and make a decision. Embrace the love that presents itself? Or sabotage what he sees as the inevitable?

A supporting cast are quick to enter and leave the proceedings. They seem to normalize Miles and his girlfriend, Julia. As sexually selfish as Miles is, his best friend is worse. As depressed as he can feel, his sister is worse. They all bring along a little color commentary without bringing enough baggage to weigh down the story or direct it away from the main couple. As the girlfriend, Jen McPherson plays the role as straight and sweetly as one could hope. She goes from hurt to forgiving to hopeful quite logically without being jerked around to seem unstable, like a male director is sometimes want to do.

The first thing that will come to mind when describing a film that is written by, directed by and stars the same guy… Which is about a writer with romantic commitment issues… is of course, Woody Allen. And Quincy Rose is careful not to steal that voice, but it is a clear inspiration. The dinner party scene strays from mortality discussions based on Nietzsche writings and gears more toward the philosophy of anal sex while reciting gangsta rap lyrics. This film has been likened to a long “Girls” episode as well, which is fair. But it’s crude sexuality serves the purpose of the greater story, investigating if lasting relationships can be maintained in an age where social media leaves alternative interaction with each mouse click and strip mall massage parlors are a block away.

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The 2013 Indianapolis International Film Festival will take place July 18 to 28. Secure your tickets now for MILES TO GO.

Wednesday, July 24 @ 1:00 in the Toby
Saturday, July 27 @ 4:30 in the DeBoest