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/.

2014 Heartland Film Festival 'High School Film Competition' Review

The High School Film Competition shorts program is always a must-see for me.

There is something so special about young talent; watching their short films and hearing about the dedication required to accomplish these projects following the screening is inspiring. Many of these teens will have accomplished more before they’ve graduated from high school than some will complete in a lifetime.

'Chris,' 'It's a Thing,' and 'It Sticks' filmmakers following debut screening at AMC Castleton.

The 2014 high school shorts program includes eight honorable mentions and five finalists.

This year, Carol Nguyen returned as a finalist in the competition. (You might remember her as last year’s winner for ‘Uprooted.’ You can watch her acceptance speech from the 2013 Heartland Film Festival Awards Ceremony on YouTube here.) Her new film ‘How Do You Pronounce Phở?’ explored what it meant to be a Vietnamese Canadian through food.

Carol Nguyen and me following debut screening of 'How Do You Pronounce Pho?' at AMC Castelton.

The 2014 winner was ‘Chris,’ which is about the pressures of finding a prom date. The short is clever with a surprise twist. Director/Writer/Producer Zachary Oschin and Writer/Cast Member Sarah Evans did a great job representing their film during the Q&A session following the screening.

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

Remaining 'High School Film Competition' Showtimes