Work from IU students, alumni featured at Heartland Film Festival

IUPUI alumni Matt Spear and Selena Hubbard

IUPUI alumni Matt Spear and Selena Hubbard

Two of the three “Indiana Spotlight” movies at the Heartland Film Festival feature works by IU alumni and students.

“Three Months,” by alumni filmmakers from the IU School of Informatics and Computing at IUPUI, and “We’ll Be All Right,” by IU Bloomington undergraduates, will be shown during Indiana’s largest and longest-running independent film festival. The festival is showcasing more than 130 independent films from filmmakers around the world from Oct. 16 to 25.

Three Months” is a 20-minute film created by Matt Spear of Martinsville and Selena Hubbard of Greenwood. Both Spear and Hubbard studied media arts and science at IUPUI, with an emphasis in video production, and graduated this year. Hubbard and Spear co-wrote the film. Spear also directed and served as executive producer. Hubbard is a cast member and served as film producer.

“Three Months” tells the story of a man who puts off his dream. Now, after a cancer diagnosis, it may be too late. This film follows the themes of pursuing dreams and not pushing them off for another day.

The pair created the film for their senior year capstone project. With a few minor changes, they then submitted the film to be shown in the Heartland Film Festival, one of more 1,600 films submitted for consideration.

As they began working on the film, Hubbard and Spear decided they wanted the film to be about something that was personal and something to which they could relate.

One of the big themes in the films is about not being afraid to pursue your goals, because the time everyone has to do that is limited, Spear said. “We hope our film can be an inspiration to those students to take the risks needed to reach their biggest goals.”

“The cancer diagnosis is a way for the main character to realize you don’t have forever,” Spear said. “It is about life being short and you shouldn’t hold back on anything,” Hubbard said.

We’ll Be All Right” is an 11-minute documentary by seniors Barton Girdwood of Lebanon, Ohio, and Carissa Barrett of South Bend. They completed the project as part of Susanne Schwibs’ documentary filmmaking class last spring in the Department of Communication and Culture, now in The Media School, at IU Bloomington.

“We’ll Be All Right” shares the story of Frankie Presslaff, his unique family and his extraordinary mother, Mimsie.

When Girdwood first pitched Mimsie to his film class, Barrett was hooked. “I knew immediately I wanted to be a part of it. It’s just not something you hear about every day, and I wanted a chance to help tell this family’s remarkable story.”

This particular family is what Girdwood describes as “thicker than blood.” Together, Presslaff and his longtime partner Kelly Compton are dads to eight adopted children.

“We really wanted to capture the emotions we felt while making the film and share with audiences the life, love, and wisdom Mimsie offered her family and the Bloomington community,” Barrett said. “This is a small slice of Bloomington culture that needed to be told for many reasons, but mainly to preserve the memory of Mimsie through the lives of her children and grandchildren.”

The Heartland Film Festival will screen “Three Months” and “We’ll Be All Right” as part of its “Indiana Spotlight” program at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 24 at AMC Traders Point Theater 7.

Read more about “Three Months” and filmmakers Hubbard and Spears on the School of Informatics and Computing website.

Read more about “We’ll Be All Right” and filmmakers Girdwood and Barrett on the Viewpoints blog.

2014 Italian Film Festival schedule announced

The Italian program in the Department of World Languages and Cultures at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis will host the Italian Film Festival, April 12 through May 10. The festival showcases nine films, including two documentaries.

“Once again the program in Italian brings a taste of Europe to IUPUI and Indianapolis with this year’s edition of the Italian Film Festival, showing the best in recent Italian filmmaking,” said professor Marta Anton, chair of the Department of World Languages and Cultures, part of the IU School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI.

Indianapolis is one of 11 cities participating in the festival. All films will be presented with English subtitles and are free and open to the public. The Indianapolis series is sponsored by Fiat and the Italian Cultural Institute of Chicago in collaboration with IUPUI and the IUPUI Italian Club.

The films will be shown at either the Lilly Auditorium of the IUPUI University Library, 755 W. Michigan St., or the IUPUI Campus Center Theatre, 420 University Blvd.

The films, times and locations are:

  • “Viva L’Italia,” 2 p.m. Saturday, April 12, IUPUI University Library, Lilly Auditorium. A sudden illness results in politician Michele Spagnolo saying anything that comes into his head and doing whatever he wants, with hilarious consequences. (Comedy, 111 min)
  • “Gli Equilibristi” (“Balancing Act”), 4 p.m. Sunday, April 13, Lilly Auditorium. A critical error causes Giulio’s life to unravel. Through a series of events, Giulio discovers how thin the line truly is between well-being and poverty. (Comedy, 100 min)
  • “Bianca Come Il Latte, Rossa Come Il Sangue” (“White as Milk, Red as Blood”), 2 p.m. Saturday, April 19, Lilly Auditorium. Leo is a typical 16-year-old who finds school agonizing. Then, a new teacher encourages him to follow his dreams, which include an unattainable fellow student with fiery red hair. (Drama, 102 min)
  • “Viva La Liberta” (“Long Live Freedom”), 7 p.m. Friday, April 25, IUPUI Campus Center Theatre. When the leader of a political opposition party disappears, his wife and assistant turn to his identical twin brother, who was recently released from a psychiatric hospital. Will anyone notice the switch? (Drama, 93 min)
  • “Il Rosso E Il Blue” (“The Red and Blue”), 4 p.m. Sunday, April 27, Lilly Auditorium. Set in a Roman school are the stories of an art history professor who has lost his passion for the job, a young substitute who is trying to save a rebel student and a stern head mistress who is forced to deal with a student who has been forgotten by his mother. (Comedy, 98 min)
  • “Teorema Venezia” (“The Venice Syndrome”), 7 p.m. Saturday, May 3, Campus Center Theatre. Venice, the world’s most beautiful city, has 48,000 residents, and there are fewer every year as the city is becoming almost uninhabitable. The film shows what remains of Venetian life. (Documentary, 80 min)
  • “La Migliore Offerta” (“The Best Offer”), 7 p.m. Friday, May 9, Campus Center Theatre. An antiques expert is appointed to oversee the sale of a beautiful heiress’s priceless art collection and is soon engulfed by a passion that rocks his bland existence. (Drama, 124 min.)
  • “Women Workers’ War,” 5 p.m. Saturday, May 10, Campus Center Theatre. A documentary about two women: one who leads the longest factory sit-in by women in Italy, the other who operates a cookie factory that also encourages cultural and personal growth among the workers. (Documentary, 54 min)
  • “Il Gioellino” (“The Jewel”), 7 p.m. Saturday, May 10, Campus Center Theatre. The founder of an international conglomerate places his closest relatives and trusted managers in key positions, but they are unfit to face the challenges of today’s market. (Drama, 110 min)

For more information, view the event flyer or contact professor Cristiana Thielmann at 310-989-2810 orcthielma@iupui.edu.

“The Education of Auma Obama,” a film by Branwen Okpako: screening and discussion with filmmaker

Wednesday, April 23, 2014
6:00 – 9:00 p.m.
University Library, Lily Auditorium
755 W. Michigan St., Indianapolis, IN 46202

Admission free Reception with light refreshments to follow

Branwen Okpako is a highly talented and successful Nigerian-Welsh documentary filmmaker, who now lives and works in Berlin, Germany, where in 1999 she received a degree in Film Directing from the prestigious German Film and Television Academy in Berlin. Since 1995 she has produced several videos, mixed media installations, and films. Her work has been selected to be shown at film festivals in Europe, Great Britain, Africa, North America, and the Middle East. In addition to her work as a filmmaker, Okpako offers seminars, workshops, and projects in film studies and filmmaking and lectures at universities in the US, Canada, Europe, and other parts of the world. Topics of her presentations include: Intersections of Race, Gender, and Otherness in Film; Black Identity in German Cinema; Migration and Multiculturalism in Contemporary Europe; The Art of Filmmaking; The Theory and Practice of Screenplay Writing, to name just a few.

For her 2000/2001 film, Dreckfresser (Dirt for Dinner), Okpako received, among others, the German Next-Generation-First-Steps Award for Best Documentary Film. For her 2002 film, Sehe ich was du nicht siehst? (Do I see what you do not see?), she received the D-motion special prize for the city of Halle, Germany. Her most acclaimed film, The Education of Auma Obama, (Die Geschichte der Auma Obama) has brought Okpako much attention. The film is a captivating and intimate portrait of the U.S. president’s older half-sister, who embodies a post-colonial, feminist identity. Dr. Auma Obama studied German at the University of Heidelberg from 1981 to 1987 before continuing with graduate studies at the University of Bayreuth, earning a PhD in 1996. Her dissertation was on the conception of labor in Germany and its literary reflections. For The Education of Auma Obama, Okpako received the 2012 African Movie Academy Award for Best Diaspora Documentary, the Festival Founders Award for Best Documentary at the Pan African Film Festival in Los Angeles (both in 2012), and the Viewers Choice Award at the Africa International Film Festival (2011).

Her most recent project, Fluch der Medea (The Curse of Medea), a docu-drama about the life of the late German writer Christa Wolf, was shown at the Berlin Film Festival in 2014.

Okpako is currently a visiting professor of German at Earlham College in Richmond, Indiana. This event is co-sponsored by the IUPUI Arts and Humanities Institute and the IUPUI Max Kade German-American Center, with additional support from the Department of World Languages and Cultures and the German Program. For additional information contact: Jason M. Kelly, Director, IUPUI Arts and Humanities Institute, iahi@iupui.edu, (317) 274-1689 Claudia Grossmann, Interim Director, IUPUI Max Kade German-American Center,cgrossma@iupui.edu, (317) 274-3943

NEH Grant: Bridging Cultures through Film: International Topics, Deadline June 12

Brief Summary

The Bridging Cultures through Film: International Topics program supports documentary films that examine international and transnational themes in the humanities. These projects are meant to spark Americans’ engagement with the broader world by exploring one or more countries and cultures outside of the United States. Proposed documentaries must be analytical and deeply grounded in humanities scholarship.

The Division of Public Programs encourages the exploration of innovative nonfiction storytelling that presents multiple points of view in creative formats. The proposed film should range in length from a standard broadcast length of thirty minutes to a feature-length documentary.

We invite a wide range of approaches to international and transnational topics and themes, such as an examination of a critical issue in ethics, religion, or history, viewed through an international lens; an exploration of a topic that transcends a single nation-state, with the topic being explored across borders; or an exploration of the history and culture(s) of a specific region, country, or community outside of the United States.

http://www.neh.gov/grants/public/bridging-cultures-through-film-international-topics