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The Independent Critic

 2012 Heartland Film Festival: A-Z Reviews, Vol. 20 
Peace for Paws (10 Mins., High School Film Competition)
Peace for Paws (10 Mins., High School Film Competition)

Directed by: Matt ShouseMatt Shouse's Peace for Paws is a 10-minute doc about the Marion Grant Humane Society, an organization devoted to shedding a light on animal cruelty while also fulfilling the usual obligations of your local animal shelter. While Shouse's film is mostly a straightforward doc, it's a well done film that captures passion for the organizations and the animals on whose behalf they work.

Picture Perfect (24 Mins., Narrative Short)

Starring: Olivia Rose Keegan, Orson Chaplin and Reese Mishler; Directed by: Winston Titus Tao; Written by: Ngoc Ho, Aaron John Tao, Winston Titus Tao, Evelyn Mishler

17-year-old Russell Clayton (Reese Mishler) has always loved photography. When he gets the chance to enter a school competition to win some cash for his sister Maggie (Olivia Rose Keegan), the two plot the perfect shots in an effort to escape a grim living situation and lack of food.

Directed by Winston Titus Tao, Picture Perfect is an inspiring and hopeful narrative short with a terrific ensemble cast led by the duo of Olivia Rose Keegan and Reese Mishler. The two share a relaxed and believable chemistry that helps the film leave a lasting impact. Fred Emory Smith's original music enhances the film's mood without overwhelming it, while D.P. Andrew Finch's lensing gives the film a picture perfect look.

Ram (6 Mins., High School Film Competition)

Directed by: Nick Damian

Nick Damian only takes six minutes to tell his story in this rock solid entry into the 2012 Heartland Film Festival's High School Film Competition, but he gets the most he can out of those six minutes and ends up with a terrific little short called Ram that picked up an Honorable Mention in the competition. The film is about a Catholic tattoo artist, Ram Lee. While it might sound like Damian plays it all off for novelty, he in fact creates a film that entertains and informs in a way that leaves you craving more time with the intriguing Lee.