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Three new films about the White River — and the lives it touches — recently premiered Jan. 17 at Nickel Plate Arts. The films, funded by Indiana Humanities, build on the award-winning Next Indiana Campfires program, which focused on the White River in 2018 and will continue to do so in 2019. The films debuted in a series of public events in January and February and will be available to stream online in March.

Over the last year, Indiana Humanities focused its Next Indiana Campfires program on the White River watershed and the larger question of how Hoosiers relate to water and to each other across watersheds. To explore these connections further — and to document a particularly exciting moment for Indiana waterways — Indiana Humanities selected local filmmakers to create three short films about the White River. The films are each between 11 and 15 minutes in length. A trailer is available to watch at IndianaHumanities.org/CampfiresFilms.

Through the films, viewers will meet volunteers, artists, activists, farmers, engineers, developers, city officials, hikers and parents. They’ll paddle downstream with Friends of the White River, tunnel under the city with Dig Indy and soar overhead with the great blue herons of our region. The filmmakers were chosen through a competitive RFP process initiated earlier this year.

At the free launch party in January, Indiana Humanities, in partnership with Hamilton County Tourism, screened the films and held a Q&A with the filmmakers. Attendees enjoyed snacks and beers compliments of Upland Brewing.

Work on a two-county White River Vision Plan coincides with the release of the film. 

“The planning team has met with hundreds of individuals who live near or are passionate about this river during this planning period,” says Hamilton County Tourism President & CEO Brenda Myers. “Nothing we have done in the visioning process captures the community conversations about this river as these three films have.”

Leah Nahmias, director of programs and community engagement at Indiana Humanities, says “We are excited to debut these films, made in Indiana by Hoosier filmmakers, which show views of the river and perspectives on the White River watershed you never knew existed. We hope they awaken new appreciation of the White River and spark meaningful conversations about its future.”

 Here is a list of the films and filmmakers:
  • “Braided with the Current” by Katelyn Calhoun and Hannah Hodges: Katelyn Calhoun has spent the past five years in Indianapolis creating documentary content. She is currently in pre-production for an Appalachian Trail short documentary, (Tr)alias. Hannah Hodges co-founded and runs Hodges Marketing Solutions, a digital marketing agency, with her husband Mark. She is involved in the Indianapolis film community and has a variety of experience ranging from work on documentaries and narrative shorts to corporate videos and live events.
  • “Onward Ever: The Becoming of Indiana’s White River” by Brandon Walsh: Brandon Walsh is an Indy-based video producer. His narrative short films have screened at a number of festivals across the Midwest, and he has made national award-winning commercial work with the advertising agency CVR.
  • “White River: Perspectives” by Hannah Lindgren: Hannah Lindgren is a visual storyteller who works for The Story Shop in Pendleton and hails from the northeast side of Indianapolis. She specializes in telling the stories of nonprofits, causes, small businesses and communities through short videos. This is her fourth documentary film.

 In March, the full-length films will be available online, along with a discussion toolkit designed to help people talk about the ideas they raise with neighbors, students, friends and family. Indiana Humanities will also be offering stipends to community groups who host public screenings and discussions of the films in 2019 and 2020. You can learn more at IndianaHumanities.org/CampfiresFilms.

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