2014 Heartland Film Festival 'SlingShot' Review

What do you know about Segway creator Dean Kamen? I knew next to nothing, except that he died after a freak Segway accident involving a cliff. Turns out, that wasn’t even true! I had no idea that he was an eccentric genius scientist who has dedicated his life to invention.

About the Film
‘SlingShot’ is a documentary feature about Dean Kamen’s pursuit to solve the world’s water crisis. This is not a simple problem to solve, and he has dedicated 15 years to trying to create a solution for a crisis that affects billions.

As learned in the film, 50 percent of all human illness is the result of water borne pathogens. Dean invented an energy efficient vapor compression distiller known as SlingShot that can turn any unfit source of water (seawater, poisoned well water, river sludge, etc.) into potable, safe water without any need for chemical additives or filters.

The SlingShot vapor compression distiller could positively impact 500 million people.

‘SlingShot’ Review
Dean Kamen is a charismatic, brilliant, and totally quirky film subject. He is smart, talented, and driven to leave the world a better place where he found it. ‘SlingShot’ does a great job of showing him in a candid way. I knew next to nothing about Dean before watching this film, and now I feel like I know him personally.

Watching his vapor compression distiller go through early development to actual trial testing in rural Ghana (and beyond) was thrilling. It brought the global water crisis to the forefront and definitely made me think very differently about the water that flows freely from the faucets in my kitchen and bathroom.

This movie showcases the importance of innovation, invention, science, technology, and most importantly, passion.

There are three more opportunities for you to watch ‘SlingShot’ during the Heartland Film Festival. Ticketing information is available at www.heartlandfilm.org/festival/tickets.

Remaining ‘SlingShot’ Showtimes
Wednesday, Oct. 22 – 7:15 p.m. (AMC Castleton)
Thursday, Oct. 23 – 6:15 p.m. (AMC Traders Point)
Saturday, Oct. 25 – 3 p.m. (AMC Traders Point)

More information about ‘SlingShot’ can be found on the film’s official website: http://www.slingshotdoc.com/.

Photo Credit: Heartland Film

2014 Heartland Film Festival 'Lucky Stiff' Review

Out of the 130 independent films being showcased during the Heartland Film Festival, there are not many that fall into the musical comedy genre.

About the Film
‘Lucky Stiff’ is a narrative feature that celebrated its U.S. premiere at Heartland. The musical comedy with a romantic heart follows a British shoe salesman to a Moroccan casino where he helps his dead uncle live out his last, dying wishes. Yes, you read that correctly; his dead uncle.

Turns out this uncle was involved in an embezzlement scheme involving $6 million in diamonds and a dame with terrible eyesight… and hilarious calamity ensues.

The film’s cast includes veteran actors Jason Alexander, Pamela Shaw, and Dennis Farina.

Dominic Marsh plays Harry in 'Lucky Stiff.'

‘Lucky Stiff’ Review
I giggled through this entire film. Seriously. If you need a break from some of the heavy/serious films of the festival, this is an excellent choice.

Some of the situations were absolutely ludicrous, and I found them delightful. There are some great slapstick comedy moments, lots of amusing irony, and plenty of original songs to keep a smile on your face.

If you don’t like silly, goofy plots without a strong message or takeaway, this is not the film for you.

There are two more opportunities for you to watch ‘Lucky Stiff’ during the Heartland Film Festival. Ticketing information is available at www.heartlandfilm.org/festival/tickets.

Remaining ‘Lucky Stiff’ Showtimes
Tuesday, Oct. 21 – 5 p.m. (AMC Castleton)
Wednesday, Oct. 22 – 5 p.m. (AMC Traders Point)

More information about ‘Lucky Stiff’ can be found on the film’s official Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/LuckyStiff.

Photo Credit: Heartland Film

2014 Heartland Film Festival 'Drunktown’s Finest' Review

The Heartland Film Festival is Indiana’s largest and longest-running independent film festival. Over 10 days in October, Heartland Film showcases more than 130 independent films, and gives audiences access to more than 100 independent filmmakers from around the world.

This year's Narrative Feature award winner, 'Drunktown’s Finest’ from Director/Write Sydney Freeland, had a lot of pre-festival buzz.

About the Film
The film follows three different Native American youths (with very different lifestyles) as they search to for identity.

Sick Boy has a baby on the way, and hopes that enlisting will provide a better life for his growing family. Felixia is a promiscuous transsexual with a dream of becoming a model. Nizhoni is an adopted high school senior in search of her birth (Navajo) family.

Each character, in one or another, represents the varying lifestyles that can be found on the Navajo Indian Reservation outside of Dry Lake, New Mexico; the macho, the LBGT and the religious.

Sydney Freeland cast several locals in 'Drunktown's Finest.'
'Drunktown's Finest' Review
Overall, I liked the film. It had beautiful cinematography, great music, great characters. The story is layered, intricate, intimate. The leading men and women are flawed and fragile in their own ways

This is the first movie that I’ve watched with a strong female transgendered lead, and Carmen Moore’s portrayal of Felixia was delicate and tough; I couldn't believe it when I learned that this was her first feature film during the post-screening Q&A.

I do think that the ending could have been stronger. I would have liked a just a few more minutes to wrap up a few lose ends and give me that last bit of resolution. I got enough, I just wanted more!

This film demonstrated, to me at least, the power and importance of acceptance.

There are five more opportunities for you to watch ‘Drunktown’s Finest’ during the Heartland Film Festival. Ticketing information is available at www.heartlandfilm.org/festival/tickets.

Remaining ‘Drunktown’s Finest’ Showtimes

More information about ‘Drunktown’s Finest’ can be found on the film’s official website: http://drunktownsfinest.com/.