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The Independent Critic

McKenna Bintz, Cleo Bowling, and Dan Dennis
Joel Fleurent, Rob Fleurent
19 Mins.

 "Tea Time for Lions" Continues on Indie Fest Circuit 
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Tea Time for Lions is a thoughtful, emotionally honest 19-minute short film from Joel and Rob Fleurent, a sibling filmmaking team working on their thesis film at Ohio University. The film, which picked up the best student short prize at Over-the-Rhine Film Festival, tells the engaging story of the bond between two sisters, played to near perfection by McKenna Bintz and Cleo Bowling, growing up in an abusive home with their father (Dan Dennis). 

Tea Time for Lions is a jarring film, beautifully photographed by Matt Love with top-notch production design by Grant Gosche. However, it's really a film that soars on the strength of its two leading performances. As the elder sister Victoria, Cleo Bowling is absolutely riveting. She's achingly vulnerable and a fierce protector, yet also immensely wounded and she radiates such a deep soulfulness that you feel her ache in your every bone. 

As the younger sibling, McKenna Bintz gives an intelligent, intuitive performance that beautifully weaves together the innocence of childhood with the rebelliousness one acquires from growing up in an abusive home. Bintz, an acting vet, is so strong here that the acting offers should pour in from anyone who sees this film. 

As the father in question, Dan Dennis gives a quietly disciplined, layered performance that speaks volumes in the silences and nicely avoids becoming a caricature. 

After multiple festival appearances already, Tea Time for Lions continues on the film festival circuit and there's little doubt it should continue to experience quite a bit of success. It's the kind of film that makes you anxious to see what the Fleurent brothers will do next. 

For more information on Tea Time for Lions, visit the film's IMDB page linked to in the credits. 

Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic