Film Fest Picks

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Independent filmmakers have taken over the Indianapolis Museum of Art and the downtown IMAX theater this week for the annual Indy Film Festival. The event continues to attract a wide mix of talented filmmakers and unique subject matters. This year extra emphasis was put on bringing more of the writers, directors and actors to town for screenings with help from a Kickstarter campaign.

While chatting with filmmakers at the opening night party at The Hall, this campaign seemed to pay off. Many of them commented on how excited they were to stay at the artsy Alexander Hotel, compared to other film festivals where no lodging is provided. Extending this small token of Hoosier hospitality is just another step in boosting Indianapolis' image as a worthwhile destination for indie film-making.

The sustained growth of Indy Film Fest and ability to make it seem one-of-a-kind is a remarkable feat for an entirely volunteer-run operation. In essence, the movies you see at the festival aren't handpicked by some exec looking out for the bottom line, but by a passionate film-goer who might work in the cubicle next to you. Having previously served a two-year stint on the screening committee, I can say these guys put in a lot of hours watching terrible movies so we only see the best.

Though I have seen none of this year's films in advance of the event, I am looking forward to checking out Web Junkie, a documentary on teens with Internet addiction in China. The Chinese perspective should provide an interesting lens through which to view the issue, one which I assume will only be growing in the U.S. soon.

For a more qualified opinion on what flicks to check out, several of the film fest's volunteers have offered recommendations on movies they screened.

KATE PELL / FORT TILDEN
  • Kate Pell / Fort Tilden

Kate Pell, Marketing & PR
Day job: Consumer Brand Manager at Simon

Recommended Movie: Fort Tilden
While I find most mumblecore insufferable, and have even been known to sleep through a lot of it, I found myself laughing out loud and identifying with Fort Tilden's leading ladies. Plagued by one poor decision after the other, the film is a reflection of the complicated ties of friendship and the fear of finally having to grow up.

LUKE SANDERS / CHANTHALY
  • Luke Sanders / Chanthaly

Luke Sanders, Operations
Day job: Account Executive at ExactTarget

Recommended Movie: Chanthaly
Chanthaly is an incredibly unique, slow-burn psychological horror movie from Laos -- the first horror movie ever made in Laos, to my knowledge. It's fascinating seeing a film made for an audience that doesn't know what horror is supposed to be. The opening scene will punch you in the gut, and then settle in for some Hitchcockian suspense.

MELISSA HEEKE / GNARLY IN PINK: PINK HELMET POSSE
  • Melissa Heeke / Gnarly in Pink: Pink Helmet Posse

Melissa Heeke, Volunteer
Day job: Association Membership and Communications Director

Recommended Movie: Gnarly in Pink: Pink Helmet Posse
Gnarly in Pink: Pink Helmet Posse is a nine-minute documentary about three awesome little skateboarding girls. This fun short features My LittlePony piƱatas, glitter bombs and lots of girl power! It's part of the inaugural "Shorts for Shorties" kid-friendly short film program. Great for your aspiring filmmakers with super-short attention spans! (This short was also highlighted in "The Long & Short of the Indy Film Fest.")

AMANDA HARBECK / BEN'S AT HOME
  • Amanda Harbeck / Ben's at Home

Amanda Harbeck, Box Office
Day job: Financial Controller

Recommended Movie: Ben's At Home
This comedy about turning 30 and dealing with relationships will hit close to home for many. Despite the film's world cinema designation, it is Canadian (translation: No subtitles required). And it's funny. Who doesn't enjoy a funny movie?

SUMMER KEOWN / SKOOK
  • Summer Keown / Skook

Summer Keown, Special Events
Day job: Executive Director of Earth Day Indiana

Recommended Movie: Skook
Skook is a well-made, humorous film that is worth your time. In it, Amy goes back to her hometown to be with her family for Christmas, but her boyfriend is too busy occupying Wall Street to come along. At home, she runs into Jordan, one of the boys who made high school hell for her. There's an attraction, but what's the statute of limitations on high school? Take in Skook to find out.

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