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The Reel Hope Film Festival

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'Soldier's Song'
  • 'Soldier's Song'

The filmmakers showcased in the upcoming Reel Hope Film Festival have their fingers pressed firmly on the pulse of America. Exploring such timely topics as war, political activism, and environmental consciousness, this is a NUVO-friendly event if there ever was one.

The festival starts Friday at noon with the documentary, Love's Labor Jam — a breezy film about a private music festival in Berea, Kentucky created to honor the memory of Jerry Garcia. Watching the film is like sitting in the front row of an intimate concert with friends.

It starts off lightly, but the festival quickly veers into darker, sobering, but no less inspiring, territory.

The rest of the fest

The Lesson: A short film with a grand goal — to explore our place in the universe and connections to others in the quilt of life. Written and directed by IU alum and local, award-winning filmmaker Kim Stephens. 5 minutes.

The Koch Brothers Exposed: The titular brothers, Charles and David, are known for their family business — an energy conglomerate that was recently dubbed the nation's largest privately owned company by Forbes magazine. This film follows the businessmen and philanthropists into the public light as they attempt to dismantle the public education system in Wake County, North Carolina. 12 minutes.

You Won't Take Me Down: Brimming with female empowerment, this music video from singer Dana McVicker explores domestic violence and one woman's stand against it for the good of herself and her children. 5 minutes.

From the Ground Up: As its title suggests, this is a harrowing story about life after the ashes, following five widows of firefighters killed on 9/11. The documentary shows them at their most vulnerable, chronicling their struggle to triumph over tragedy. 30 minutes.

Soldier's Song: Set in a VA Hospital, this fictional drama details one soldier's personal war against pain, paralysis, and altered perceptions. After the screening there will be a Q&A with directors Michelle Gussow and Tom Sparx.

During the after-party, you can mingle with fellow attendees, including Ron Zaleski — the brave former Marine who walks barefoot across the country to raise awareness of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

This is an event you do not want to miss; come on, it's free! Donations benefit the Indy Artists Peace Project, an organization that sponsors live performances by a wide array of artists as well as community discussions regarding pressing social issues. (Past roundtables have covered such issues as the death penalty, gun violence, and poverty.)

The first annual Reel Hope Film Festival will be held at the First Mennonite Church (4601 Knollton Rd.).

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