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The Independent Critic

 2012 Heartland Film Festival: A-Z Reviews, Vol. 7 
Dream Away (2 Mins., High School Competition Grand Prize)

Directed by: Jenna Yonker

If it's possible to be swept away in a mere two minutes, then Jenna Yonker's marvelous Dream Away may very well be the film to do it. The winner of Heartland's High School Film Competition in 2012, Dream Away is an experimental short that takes the viewer away utilizing chalk, photography and the marvelous stories of Peter Pan, Alice in Wonderland and The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.

Does that sound like an awful lot to accomplish in a mere two minutes? You simply have to see it and surrender to it - then you will believe it. I haven't always resonated with Heartland's prize winners, but in 2012 they seem to have nailed it across the board. While other high school entries were certainly good, Dream Away is simply stellar.

DVA (26 Mins., Narrative Short)

Starring: Stipe Erceg, Carlo Ljubek; Directed by: Mickey Nedimovic

If you've ever been to the Heartland Film Festival, then you already know that at least once during the festival you'll find yourself face-to-face with a "crossing the lines of war" type of film. Remember that scene in Spielberg's War Horse where both sides came to a momentary peace in order to save the horse? Such a scenario is extraordinarily popular in short film, and such a scene is the driving force behind Mickey Nedimovic's 26-minute narrative short film called DVA.

The film enters the Serb-Croatia conflict by crossing the paths of two soldiers whose destinies become intertwined. The unfortunate snag with the film is that it feels like it's desperately trying to be important and, as a result, it feels more manipulative than noble. The performances, as well, at times feel more histrionic than honest. In the end, DVA isn't nearly as good a film as it's trying to be.