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The Independent Critic

 2012 Heartland Film Festival: A-Z Reviews (Vol. 1) 
Abandoned (4 Mins., Narrative Short)
Starring: Phoebe Magik; Written and Directed by: Rainer Magik and Holle Singer; Official Facebook


This interesting and experimental 4-minute short is an official selection of the 2012 Heartland Film Festival, and while it's an overall hit-and miss effort it does manage to leave an impression in its short four-minute running time. The film is in French with English subtitles, and definitely carries with it that deep romantic sensation that we so seldom find in American cinema. The film centers around a man who is haunted by the images inside his head of the last time he saw a lost love. This film was only recently completed and one gets the idea that by the end of it's festival run it will leave an even more powerful impact.

Address is Approximate (3 Mins, Animated Short)

Conceived and Directed by: Tom Jenkins

Address is Approximate is a delightful 3-minute animated short film that director Tom Jenkins released to the internet and promptly found himself hired by Sony to work on their upcoming Giants project. Now that's what I call viral! That kind of attention is warranted, as well, given the really wonderful work he's done on this film. Address is Approximate is about a lonely desk toy who aspires to getting out of the dark office in which he lives. So, he does it the only way he knows how - using a toy car and Google Maps Street View. Among the short films, Address is Approximate is one of 2012 Heartland's little gems.

Trust me. It's awesome.

Ailema (10 Mins., Narrative Short)
Ailema (10 Mins., Narrative Short)

Starring: Lara Dawnay, Jessica Boyde; Written and Directed by: Cecilia FrugiueleIn the privacy of her own bedroom, dyslexia becomes a gift for Amelia. We, the audience, are drawn into her creative and uniquely expressed world in a way that draws us in both intellectually and emotionally. This upside down world clashes with the cold reality of Amelia's life in the classroom, and Ailema is effective because it makes us feel her discomfort when she faces a sure humiliation amongst her peers.

Written and directed by Cecilia Frugiuele, Ailema features a wonderful performance by young Lara Dawnay as Amelia, whom we embrace in much the same we did Phoebe from Heartland's Phoebe in Wonderland a couple years back. Daniel Stafford-Clark's camera work is warm when it needs to be warm and detached and frustrating when capturing Amelia's fears and frustrations. Alois de Leo's animation is used wondrously within the film in the way that it captures the safety and escape that exists within Amelia's heart and mind.

This little gem is an official selection of the 2012 Heartland Film Festival and will have four screenings among the festival's narrative shorts.

Ali 707 (12 Mins., Narrative Short)
Ali 707 (12 Mins., Narrative Short)

Starring: Craig Behanna, Samantha Young, Sam Tripodi, Baqir Rezai; Written and Directed by: Hannah Moore

Easily one of the 2012 Heartland Film Festival's most frustrating short films, Hannah Moore's Ali 707 is an intelligently written film that features a marvelous performance by Baqir Rezai in the lead role as Ali, an Afghani man seeking refuge in Australia who finds himself incarcerated at the famous Woomera Detention Centre. To cope, perhaps, he runs back and forth between the compound fences until his body finally gives out. It is only then that he is able to truly achieve freedom.

Based on a true story, Ali 707 is truly Heartland's kind of film - filled with hope and inspiration and a celebration of the human spirit. Amongst a group of peers who screened the film, Ali 707 was one of the most debated short films with some declaring it a masterpiece and some, myself included, declaring it "close but not quite."

The "near miss," at least for this critic, exists in the dreadfully over-the-top and inconsistent performance of Samantha Young. Young's performance is so disjointed within the fabric of the film that it is distracting and, I'd dare say, even rather irritating. I found myself, in fact, watching the film a second time just to make sure that it wasn't an artistic choice with which I simply didn't resonate.

Nope. It's just a miss. Unfortunately, it's a miss that truly disrupts the flow of the film and its emotional impact. Kudos still go to Moore for her wonderful script and to Rezai for his inspired performance, but Ali 707 falls short of being the really great film it should be.

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© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic