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Basketball, Love and More at Indy Film Fest

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Medora, Indiana is a very small town with a population of less than 700. Their high school basketball team, the Hornets, had not won a single game in years. It is like a lot of small towns in Indiana; the factories have shut down and poverty has taken hold. There is a drug problem and most of the citizens are struggling to get by.

Film makers, Davy Rothbart and Andrew Cohn heard about them and believed that the town's situation would make the perfect sports documentary.

"Most sports documentaries are about the drive to the championship," says Andrew Cohn. "What about a film where the team is just trying to win a single game?"

Medora's basketball team has been on a multi-year losing streak and their story will be showing at the Fest on Friday night.
  • Medora's basketball team has been on a multi-year losing streak and their story will be showing at the Fest on Friday night.

The two directors drove to Medora and pitched the idea of making a documentary about the struggling town.

"It took a while for them to warm up to us. It took about a year and then we ended up filming the 2011 season," Cohn says.

The film that would ensue, Medora, has started the rounds in film festivals and its next stop will be at the Indianapolis International Film Festival Friday night for its first showing in Indiana. Most of the Fest is happening at the Indianapolis Museum of Art, but a few shows are getting special treatments at outside venues.

Medora will be shown in the old herringbone floored gym at the Harrison Center for the Arts to provide the appropriate atmosphere for a basketball documentary.

"It's going to be a really special night. Davy and I are going to be there and a few of the subjects in the film are going to be there too. I think the audience is really going to get a kick out of meeting the kids and the coaches; the people who they sort of feel they have gotten to know so well (by watching the film.) I am really looking forward to it," Cohn says. "They rented this old 1920's gym to screen the movie in, which I think will be cool."

The Indianapolis International Film Festival is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. The festival features 90 local, regional, and international films for ten days straight beginning tonight with the regional debut of the film Drinking Buddies, which stars Olivia Wilde and Paul Rud.

"The vision has, like in years past, been to bring the best independent film from around the world to Indianapolis, and to create a shared experience around film," says Lucas Sanders, one of the organizers of the festival. "We're fond of saying that we want our films to be more than sitting in a dark room with strangers for two hours. We don't limit ourselves to any particular genre or geography but accept film across the board."

In addition to full-length feature films, the festival will feature a variety of short films grouped by theme into packages. Buying a ticket to one of the film shorts viewings will allow attendees to see a number of short films in a row.

"Programming short films is one of the toughest things we do," says Sanders. "Like an album, a short film program should have a strong opening and closing, pacing, balance and contrast but keep a unified theme throughout. As we watch and evaluate shorts, a theme often rises to the surface that will guide assembly of a few of the programs. This year's, 'The Hobbyists,' is a great example. We saw a strong group of short films focused on individuals and their passions, and felt it translated well into its own program."

Another category of short films is titled, "With Love and Squalor." One of the films being shown in this group is Rearview Mirror, by director Ronald Short, who has been making films since he was in 8th grade.

This locally-made short will appear in the 'With Love and Squalor' package of shorts.
  • This locally-made short will appear in the 'With Love and Squalor' package of shorts.

"Rearview Mirror is my first real attempt at making a dramatic piece.  A lot of my stuff has drama in it, but most of it would be considered comedic overall.  The short plays like memories from a weekend shared by two old friends and the feelings that reignite between them," Short says. "What I love about memories is how it's not always the good that sticks with us and some people will remember experiences differently than other people because of how it affects them.  I wanted this short to play that way."

Short toyed with the concept of the film for three years but could not work out all of the details until last spring.

"We shot the short in September of 2012, edited it over the span of a few months after that, and just got the sound mix perfected the week before it was due to Indy," he says. "I really feel this film presents a different kind of love than most other films.  Love isn't as black and white or as easy as we sometimes make it out to be.  There are so many kinds of love out there, and we must navigate through them.  I think if people are at all interested in these kinds of ideas, they should check it out.  Some people have called the film heartbreaking, lucid, and dreamlike, but that's love in a nutshell."

Short is unable to attend the festival this year but highly recommends checking out Drinking Buddies, the film that kicks off the festival.

"They're doing some stuff with Sun King (for the premiere). I would kill to be at that event! It's such a cool idea and a really solid movie to boot," he says.

The festival concludes on Saturday, July 27th with the regional premiere of Don Jon, Joseph Gordon Levitt's directorial debut. The movie will be shown at the Indianapolis Museum of Art with an awards ceremony and after-party to follow. This will give viewers a chance to see the movie before it makes its big screen debut in September.

It's going to be an exciting week for film, so check the schedule and don't miss out.

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