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The Independent Critic

Written and Directed by
V.K. Shah
Katie Pengra, R. Benito Cardenas, Denise Glass, Efrem P. Towns
Running Time
5 Mins.

 "Welcome to Shady Pines" Review 
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This 5-minute short mockumentary stars Katie Pengra as a realtor named Estelle Getty with a bit of a questionable marketing strategy that, given the current condition of real estate in this country, may not be that far removed from reality. Focusing her efforts on an neighborhood with "potential" and attracting customers that she's just absolutely certain would fit right in, Estelle is an uncomfortable mix of Sarah Palin with Marcy from the former television series Married With Children.

In other words, she's funny.

Pengra carries this low-budget short, which writer/director V.K. Shah credits having been made courtesy of the U.S. tax rebate, a wonderful and not so subtle jab at stimulating the economy by pointing out what got us in the mess in the first place. Perfect.

Welcome to Shady Pines feels like an SNL sketch, and Shah wisely keeps the entire thing moving along at a nice clip introducing three of the neighborhood's newest diverse residents including a Mexican, a lesbian couple and an African-American man (at least Monday through Friday).

Holly Amber Church's accompanying music perfectly complements the film, while Cliff Wrangler's camera work is straightforward yet effective. Kudos to the entire audio team for a sound mix that takes advantage of the film's low budget rather than becomes victimized by it.

Welcome to Shady Pines has played at the South Dakota Film Festival and several other regional film festivals and can now be seen on the website

    The 50/50 x 2020 Pledge

    The Independent Critic is proud to support Indy-based Heartland Film by committing to the 50/50 x 2020 Pledge - By the end of the year 2020, The Independent Critic will achieve gender parity in its reviews of both shorts and feature films. Furthermore, The Independent Critic also pledges support for the Ruderman Family Foundation's call for authentic representation of people with disabilities in film and actively commits to leverage its journalistic influence to effect genuine change in the film industry by calling for and actively promoting authentic and inclusive casting and hiring of people with disabilities.

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