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The Independent Critic

 2012 Heartland Film Festival: A-Z Reviews, Vol. 8 
Ejaz's Story (9 Mins., Doc Short)
Ejaz's Story (9 Mins., Doc Short)

Directed by: Syed Zayer Hassanz

This 9-minute short film from Pakistan follows the experiences of young Ejaz, whose family was forced into a relief camp following the flooding of Karampur in July of 2010. Ejaz's Story is a rather straight-forward yet well done doc short that fits quite nicely within Heartland's "Children of the World" short film block. The film is directed by Syed Zayer Hassan, whose insight into the disaster is obvious and who captures an intimate story within the framework of this natural tragedy.

Eliot & Me (52 Mins., Narrative Feature)

Starring: Joshua Brown,  Ella Connolly, Eliot; Directed by: Fintan Connolly; Written by: Fiona Bergin, Fintan Connolly; OFFICIAL FACEBOOK

I will confess that I tend to regard myself as a fan of European family films over the vast majority of American-made family films. While there are certainly exceptions, for the most part it seems like European directors are able to find that delicate mix of entertainment, values and respect for their target audiences. For the most part, Hollywood seems to take a "throw it at the screen" approach and hope that something sticks, but European directors tend to be more thoughtful, insightful and patient with their audiences while very seldom talking down to children.

Case in point - Eliot & Me, a lovely 52-minute short film about a young girl, Lucy (Ella Connolly), struggling to come to terms with her parents' separation. She rescues a dog named Eliot, but tragedy strikes when Eliot goes missing. Lucy must embark on a dangerous effort to find him.

Eliot & Me is a warm and gentle family film, featuring a wonderful performance from Ella Connolly and a heart and spirit that will warm dog lovers and family film lovers alike. The film bears an easy comparison to the British made version of Lassie, though that comparison is a tad unfair as Eliot & Me is a delight all its own.

Eliot & Me isn't likely to see any festival awards during the 2012 Heartland Film Festival, but its warm heart and winning spirit will likely breeze through your mind for days after watching the young Connolly and this adorable Yorkshire Terrier.

Elon & Emmanuelle (5 Mins., Narrative Short)

Starring: Elon Hoglund, Emmanuelle le Phan; Written and Directed by: Natalie Galazka

Written and directed by Natalie Galazka, Elon & Emmanuelle is a sweet five-minute short film based around the premise that the environment is constantly talking to us. Told through street art/dance, the film is a playful and wonderfully inspired short film featuring two Montreal dance artists whose inspiration was Banksy. Without words, the film encapsulates chance meetings, the meeting of strangers and falling in love. For those who appreciate dance, the film will absolutely be enchanting.

For everyone else? Absolutely enchanting.

Garth Stevenson's original music accompanies the film perfectly, while D.P. Melissa O'Brien lenses the film with a whimsy and brightness that helps to make the film one of the 2012 Heartland Film Festival's unexpected delights.