The Independent Critic

 2012 Heartland Film Festival: A-Z Reviews, Vol. 13 
Hayfever (95 Mins., Narrative Feature)
Starring: Andrea Bosca, Diane Fleri, Giulia Michelini, Camilla Filippi, Giuseppe Gandini; Directed by: Laura Luchetti; Written by: Laura Luchetti, Davide Luchetti and Riccardo Grandi;

There will certainly be those with a deep appreciation for Laura Luchetti's Italian entry into the 2012 Heartland Film Festival, a wistful romantic comedy about a group of Roman twentysomethings who are learning much about loving, letting go and moving on.

Hayfever is a lightly touching film that starts around an autumn breeze blowing through the Eternal City that is rumored to bring bravado to shy lovers. The wind blows past an antique store called Twinkled where Matteo (Andrea Bosca) is a clerk. Matteo is having a hard time letting go of his ex, Giovanna (Camilla Filippi), while co-worker Franki (Giulia Michelini) writes love letters to Jude Law. When Camilla (Diane Fleri) enters the picture, everything at Twinkled starts to change.

An official selection of this year's Heartland Film Festival, Hayfever is an enjoyable is mostly forgettable film somewhat reminiscent of some of the 80's teen/young adult flicks here in the U.S. While the film's ensemble cast is certainly endearing and Luchetti redeems herself by making some unique choices for this kind of film, among the 100+ films seen from Heartland this year this was one that even a couple days after viewing it I struggled to even find the words for this brief review.

Head Over Heels (10 Mins., Animated Short)
Featuring: Nigel Anthony and Rayyah McCaul; Written and Directed by: Timothy Reckart; OFFICIAL WEBSITE

Easily one of the highlights from the 2012 Heartland Film Festival in Indianapolis, Head Over Heels also picked up the $10,000 grand prize for short film along with a Jimmy Stewart Memorial Crystal Heart Award.

This beautifully animated film is also a wonderfully unique story perfectly suited for an animated short. Walter and Madge, voiced to perfection by Nigel Anthony and Rayyah McCaul, have grown apart to such a point that he lives on the floor while she lives on the ceiling. When Walter tries to reignite the flame, their equilibrium comes crashing down and the two must work together to see if their marriage can be put back together.

D.P. Chloe Thomson's camera work is simply extraordinary, while production designer Eleonore Cremonese gives the film a look that is both whimsical and deeply felt. Jered Sorkin's original music rounds out a terrific production team with music that is nearly as captivating as the film itself.

There are many years when I struggle with Heartland's winners, but this year's selections have across the board been exceptional films that also capture the true spirit of the Heartland Film Festival.

High Ground (91 Mins., Doc Feature)
Featuring: Steve Baskis, Dan Sidles, Katherine Ragazzino; Directed by: Michael Brown; Written by: Michael Brown, Scott McElroy, Brian Mockenhaupt, Ryan Fenson-Hood and Don Hahn; OFFICIAL WEBSITE; OFFICIAL FACEBOOK

It's hard not to feel a tad guilty about not completely raving about High Ground, an inspiring documentary and the opening film from the 2012 Heartland Film Festival.

The film combines just about all the ingredients love, or at least those audiences who are willing to sit themselves down for a feature documentary. In the film, eleven military vets aim to scale the 20,000 foot high Lobuche as part of a showcase expedition called "Soldiers to the Summit." These soldiers are all dealing with their return from war in a variety of ways, and all come back with their emotional and physical scars still raw and revealing.

Director Michael Brown does a nice job of treating these soldiers with respect and dignity while still painting an emotionally revealing and frequently heartbreaking picture. Brown lenses the film himself, and High Ground would be worth a view simply to see his amazing camera work. It's not that there's anything particularly wrong with the film - it's just that given the depth of the individuals involved in the film and their stories, High Ground frequently feels rather slight in content and, perhaps even more noticeably, as if the material that is here has been stretched out to ensure that there's enough for a full-length feature. The film did capture the Audience Award at the 2012 Newport Beach Film Festival, and it's not surprising that its inspiring heart would be an audience pleaser.

The Hunter (7 Mins., Animated Short)
Directed by: Marieka Walsh; OFFICIAL WEBSITE

A thought-provoking and beautiful 7-minute short film from Marieka Walsh, The Hunter is an official selection of the 2012 Heartland Film Festival and has proven to be quite popular on the film festival circuit. A stop-motion sand animation film, The Hunter may not prove to be the most popular film from this year's festival, however, it will leave one of the strongest impacts for many people. The film centers around a hunter who heads off into the wilderness to track down a boy who is feared to have been taken away by wolves. His experience in the wilderness causes his entire relationship with wilderness to be changed, a change that is captured beautifully in a mere seven minutes by Walsh.

Jack Finsterer voices The Hunter, while Elliott Wheeler's original composition helps to ensure that the film lingers in your psyche' long after the closing credits. Luke Bacon's sound design gives the film an almost mystical sensation, while Walsh has crafted what is easily one of the most unique films in this year's festival.

Hurdy Gurdy (4 Mins., Doc Short)
Directed by: Daniel Seidener

A simple and rather straight-forward four-minute short from this year's Heartland Film Festival, Daniel Seidener's Hurdy Gurdy uses extraordinary aesthetics and motion to question "What is real?" and "What isn't?" As is appropriate for a four-minute film, Hurdy Gurdy is a quick impact film that plants its thoughts and images and then leaves the viewer to process, remember and reflect once the film is done.

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