2014 Heartland Film Festival 'Dukale’s Dream' Review

How often do you purchase Fair Trade goods? Are you aware of the global reach and impact of purchasing Fair Trade goods? Not even sure what a Fair Trade good is? That’s okay, I’ve got you covered.

Fair Trade goods come from farmers and workers from developing countries who are justly compensated, meaning they are paid a fair price for the good they bring to free market and also earn a fair wage. This helps these farmers and workers build sustainable business that positively influences their communities.

This may not sound like a “big deal,” but trust me – IT IS. You may not realize that October is Fair Trade Month, and I can’t think of a better way to support Fair Trade than to watch ‘Dukale’s Dream’ for yourself.

About the Film
‘Dukale’s Dream’ celebrates its world premiere at the Heartland Film Festival this year.

The film follows Hugh Jackman and his wife Deborra-Lee Furness on a trip to Ethiopia in their role as ambassadors for World Vision Australia. During their visit they meet a coffee farmer named Dukale; poverty deprived him of education but he is determined to create a new future for his growing family with the help of World Vision.

Dukale makes a big impression on Hugh Jackman, and the second part of the documentary feature details the lengths that Hugh goes to in order to keep a promise that he made to him during his trip to Ethiopia.

'Dukale's Dream' filmmakers following the film's world premiere.

‘Dukale’s Dream’ Review
If you aren’t convinced to begin purchasing Fair Trade goods for your household after this film, I will be incredibly surprised.

‘Dukale’s Dream’ does an excellent job of demonstrating how Fair Trade works and how it offers farmers and workers in developing countries a hand up instead of a hand out. By providing them with the necessary technology, education and opportunities, these men and women have the power to not only change their lives, but the lives of those in their communities, too.

This film is a great reminder of the global connection we share, and why it is important for us to pay a fair price for goods.

There is one more opportunity for you to watch ‘Dukale’s Dream’ during the Heartland Film Festival. Ticketing information is available at www.heartlandfilm.org/festival/tickets.

Remaining ‘Dukale’s Dream’ Showtime
Saw the film? You can purchase Dukale’s Dream (Espresso) on the Laughing Man website: https://secure.laughingmancheckout.com/product/espresso/.

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/.

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