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Indy Shorts Spotlight: Indiana Humanities Unearthed Cohort

Hosted by Heartland Film

We invite you to come enjoy a selection of original short films created by eight Hoosier filmmaking teams documenting new perspectives on how Hoosiers today understand their connections to the natural world.

July 27
2:30 pm - 6:00 pm EDT
The Toby Theater, Newfields
4000 Michigan Rd
Indianapolis, IN 46208

Event Details

From the shores of Lake Michigan to the fields and farms of central Indiana, the Indiana Humanities Unearthed Film Series features Indiana filmmakers exploring the unique relationships between Hoosiers and the land we call Indiana. Through these intimate looks into the lives of Indiana residents working, exploring, and caring for the land, the films document new perspectives on how Hoosiers today understand their connections to the natural world. The films are part of our larger Unearthed initiative, Indiana Humanities’ multiyear environmental theme.

A complimentary special reception will follow the program premiere, courtesy of Indiana Humanities. Please join the filmmakers and Indiana Humanities staff on the Tobias Stage from 4:30 – 6 PM for free drinks and light appetizers. If you wish to attend the reception, please choose “Film + Reception” after selecting your seats at the RSVP link. RSVP required, reception space is limited.

Unearthed Short Film Program: 2:30 – 4 PM

Filmmaker Q&A: 4 – 4:30 PM

Special Reception (RSVP Required): 4:30 – 6:00 PM

Viewer discretion is advised.



About the Film:  

In Worm Land, farmer Keith Miller champions sustainable agriculture, embracing no-till practices and advocating for nightcrawlers – not the little wigglers. As he faces retirement, he reflects on a lifetime dedicated to the land. 

About the Filmmakers: 

Will Wertz: Known for deep eye contact, Will is a listener first. From documentary to fiction, his films are marked by their thoughtful intentions. He is an Emmy winner, national Addy nominee, and film festival frequenter. Though, you won’t often find him in the middle of those parties but rather he’ll be on the side, in conversation, mesmerized, and listening. 

Kolton Dallas: Kolton was raised on a farm where he fell in love with the quiet and often overlooked beauty of everyday life. With an Amish father and a hippie mother, he’s patient and perseverant. Home videos gave him a way to listen, computer science taught him how to handle the tech, and in shooting skate videos he fell backwards into filmmaking. 


About the Film:  

Symbiotic Hum is a mesmerizing audiovisual poem by Jessica Dunn and Landon Caldwell that celebrates Indiana’s biodiversity through a series of artistic explorations. During the creation of the film, the artist-filmmakers immersed themselves into the natural world by researching, collecting, and documenting as many native plants and seeds as possible throughout the year. Through a seamless blend of animation, soundscapes, poetry, and macro/microscope videography, the film takes audiences on an enchanting exploration of the natural world from new perspectives. 

Symbiotic Hum is more than just a film—it’s a call to reconnect with nature. Dunn and Caldwell extended their collaboration to the community, inviting individuals to document native plants in the wild and submit photos to be incorporated in the film. Through this collaboration, the film inspires viewers to take a closer look at the world around them and appreciate the magic that lies just beyond our doorsteps. 

About the Filmmakers: 

Jessica Dunn is a multimedia artist known for her dreamlike worlds combining animation, sound, and physical installations. With a scientific curiosity, she finds inspiration by investigating the natural world as well as psychological realms of consciousness, incorporating research with experimental practices. Lately, Dunn has extended her practice into filmmaking including short documentaries and narrative animations. No matter the format, Dunn’s work invites the viewer to open their perception to explore new realms of reality. 

Landon Caldwell is a composer and multi-disciplinary artist in Indianapolis whose work examines environment, family, & class through the language of intuition and other hidden layers of reality. Through sound, words, color and other materials, his work creates environments that redirect attention to the present and open new realities through the minutiae of the everyday.Since 2016 he has co-operated Medium Sound, producing a number of the label’s releases. From 2017 to 2020 he was a co-owner/operator of A-Space, a community-focused audio workspace. He has toured in the United States, Canada, and Europe and is regularly engaged with artists and musicians across the Midwest and beyond.His collaborative work expands into multi-disciplinary fields, working with film, visual arts, sculpture, poetry, dance, and more. 


About the Film: 

The landscape in Indiana plays a significant role in the identity of Hoosiers, especially the 20-mile stretch of the White River that flows through Madison County. For centuries, individuals have utilized this Indiana landscape to contemplate and commune with the natural world, positively impacting their psychological and spiritual well-being and bolstering their mental health and happiness. 

About the Filmmaker: 

James E. Moriarty graduated from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1991 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts. During his studies, he gained knowledge in art techniques, liberal arts, film, and video production. As digital technology emerged, James updated his skills and incorporated them into his professional work at Moriarty Media LLC. Over the past 20+ years, James has collaborated with a diverse group of professionals, each with unique talents, to deliver a wide range of media projects. These projects include advertising, event productions, music videos, TV commercials, industrial films, independent documentaries, feature screenplays, websites, interactive kiosks, and educational workshops. Since 2017, James has been awarded a grant by the City of Carmel to produce the Carmel Film Forum, which aims to provide an opportunity for filmmakers to discuss their experiences, encourage those who want to become filmmakers, and learn from professionals in the field. James has been happily married to his wife, Ingrid, since 1996. She is his muse, business partner, and best friend who supports him in all his creative endeavors. 


About the Film: 

A classic Hoosier story of farms, faith, friends, and community… told with a Calumet twist! 

In a city dominated by a steel mill, where a fifth of the built environment is abandoned and a third of all properties are dilapidated, urban farming offers a welcome change to the appearance of the streets and brings new economic possibilities to the neighborhoods. 

Director Raymar Brunson documents the movements of the growing season and the motions of Gary’s growers as they regenerate the soil, educate the community, share their harvests, and reflect in their own words on what compels them to practice agriculture in the city. 

Grown In Gary documents a growing movement in Northwest Indiana. 

About the Filmmakers:  

Samuel Love is the editor of The Gary Anthology (Belt, 2020). He is a social and civic practice artist who organizes public projects that connect communities to their cultural and ecological histories through publishing, multi-media installations, and performance. Past engagements include the Gary Poetry Project (2017), the Gary Nature Project (2018), the Lockport Poetry Project (2018), and the Carroll County Poetry Project (2019-20). He was a 2019-20 Indiana Arts Commission On Ramp fellow and Individual Advancement Program grant recipient.  

Raymar Brunson is a 2016 graduate of Wirt/Emerson Visual and Performing Arts Academy. As an independent photographer and videographer his talents have been sought out by local musicians and artists, environmental groups, and regional publishers. He has documented the impact of coal pollution for the Sierra Club’s Indiana Beyond Coal campaign. A photo essay detailing young people’s everyday lives in Gary was published by Belt Magazine and featured in The Gary Anthology.   


About the Film:  

How one community project helped start a statewide movement.  

Nestled in Gary’s Marquette Park the Lagoon Outlook Garden (LOG) is a sensory experience for people of all ages and abilities. “Launching the Lagoon” highlights a community project to showcase how private-public partnerships that source ideas from their citizens can become places of refuge and restoration. Gary has a sorted past when it comes to its greenspaces and allowing access to them. The fact that a garden located within the Steel City has ended up being seen as an exemplary prototype for universally designed projects across Indiana is a cause to celebrate. 

About the Filmmakers: 

Gretchen Sipp, Production Coordinator: Gary, Indiana native, Gretchen Sipp began her career with gaining hands-on experience in the marketing and business building space as well as in the computer and tech skill facilitation sector. She has also established herself as a respected graphic designer and multimedia specialist. Driven by her love for community and helping others build a legacy of self-sufficiency through creating their own livelihood, she takes pride in providing the best business support as possible.  

For Gretchen, small business, the arts, and community are the heartbeat of a healthy community. Sipp is widely known for her business collaborations, community engagement, marketing and expertise in the fields of fashion, art, and culture. She is excited to be a part of this project for many reasons, including her experience advocating for her daughter, who is a thriving college student and a person with a nonvisible disability. 

Jessica Renslow, Director /Editor: Jessica Renslow is an Indiana based filmmaker. With twenty years of production experience, she has 700+ credits, as she cut her teeth in episodic TV. A 2003 graduate of Ball State University, she received a BA in Japanese language/culture and Telecommunications. She was a 2002 David Letterman Award Winner for her feature-length screenplay, “Stained Glass Graffiti” and helped produce/direct segments for the Emmy Award-winning entertainment news program “Connections Live!”  (WIPB-TV).  

After graduating, she worked as a teacher and translator for the Japanese Ministry of Education in rural Hokkaido for three years appearing on a variety of NHK shows and radio programs for her community development work. She spent a decade working in Los Angeles for major studios and producing passion projects. 2007 marked her directorial debut with her feature film premiering at the LA Women in Film Festival. She received her master’s in education from California State University in 2012 with a focus on instructional design, new media production and leadership. She translated and adapted the 2013 Sundance International Filmmaker Award-winning script “Spectacled Tiger.”  

In 2015 she returned to the Hoosier State and has spent the past eight years helping educational institutions, nonprofits and governmental entities adopt new technology. From 2015-2020 she had several short documentaries premiere in film festivals across the US. In 2020 she received an Individual Advancement Program grant from Indiana Arts Commission for her writing. 2022 marked her return to scripted filmmaking with the award-winning premiere of “Method: A Voice Actor Prepares.” Most recently her film, “Take Bike the Streets,” received the Best Short Documentary at the Madonie Sicilian Film Festival where it made its worldwide premiere. Her work has aired on networks such as The Disney Channel, Cartoon Network, and PBS. Ms. Renslow is an advocate for independence within the disability community. Being diagnosed at the age of 8 has given her a unique perspective. As a mother with a disability, she advocates for universal design and creating life-long communities.  She feels that bridging the digital divide is a mode for positive change and equity. 


About the Film: 

Regenerate Indiana: Land and People Made Whole explores the interconnectedness of land and people through the perspectives of incarcerated college students at Moreau College (MCI), an undergraduate degree program of Holy Cross College situated in Westville Correctional Facility. Informed by their coursework and their experience stewarding the MCI garden, students explain how land and people can exist in a mutually beneficial, mutually healing relationship. MCI is an academic collaboration between Holy Cross College and the University of Notre Dame, in partnership with the Indiana Department of Correction. MCI students, incarcerated at Westville Correctional Facility, earn AA and BA degrees from Holy Cross College.  

About the Filmmakers: 

Director: Born and raised in rural Northern Indiana and currently residing in South Bend, Cam Stillson is a connector at heart. With experience in nonprofit and higher education, Cam loves facilitating connections that lead to increased understanding and communal flourishing. During his time serving with the Moreau College Initiative, this passion led him to partner with Trace Engbrecht of Parable to produce “Regenerate Indiana: Land and People Made Whole.” Currently, Cam is a campus minister at the University of Notre Dame, where he coordinates Mercy Works, a program that connects students to organizations in the South Bend area with the goal of mutually beneficial encounter and kinship at the margins of society.   

Producer: Meet Trace Engbrecht, the leader behind Parable, a production house that has left an indelible mark on the video production industry. As the Founder and Executive Producer, Trace has seamlessly blended his passion for storytelling with a keen business acumen, propelling his company to the forefront of creative excellence. Under Trace’s leadership, Parable has become synonymous with innovation and quality. His ability to identify and nurture talent has been a driving force in assembling a team of industry professionals who share his commitment to excellence. The production house has successfully produced a diverse array of projects, ranging from TV commercials to documentary series. 

Trace’s approach to storytelling is characterized by a rare blend of creativity and pragmatism. His keen understanding of market trends and audience preferences has allowed Parable to consistently deliver content that resonates with audiences.   

Executive Producer: Alesha Seroczynski, Ph.D., is the Associate Dean and Director of Strategic Initiatives at Holy Cross College. For the past nine years, she has been the Director of College Operations for the Moreau College Initiative, a degree-conferring program sponsored by the University of Notre Dame and Holy Cross College, in consultation with the Bard College Prison Initiative in upstate New York (see http://www.bpi.bard.edu). The Moreau College offers AA and BA degrees to incarcerated men at Westville Correctional Facility (http://www.hcc-nd.edu/moreau-college-initiative/). In 2016, MCI became one of just 67 programs nationwide that offer Second Change Pell scholarships to its students. Alesha is also a Faculty Affiliate in the William J. Shaw Center for Children and Families at Notre Dame. Alesha has published and presented at several international venues, including the Journal of Abnormal Psychology, Journal of Character Education, and the Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences. Her most recent article, “Becoming Vulnerable with the Vulnerable: A Pedagogy of Hope for Incarcerated Students of the Liberal Arts,” was published in a collected anthology on the Pedagogy of Vulnerability.  


About the Film:  

A poetic documentary that weaves through time to explore the relationship between African Americans and the natural world by highlighting our agrarian heritage rife with both beauty and pain. 

About the Filmmaker:  

Indianapolis native Manón Voice, has become a trusted voice in the the arts and activism community. Manón expresses her passions through her work as a Poet, Hip-Hop Emcee, Speaker, Educator, and advocate for Social Justice. Manón Voice strives to amplify the richness of the human narrative through workshops, public speaking, performance, poetry commissions, collaborations, and more! 


Indiana Humanities connects people, opens minds and enriches lives by creating and facilitating programs that encourage Hoosiers to think, read and talk. www.IndianaHumanities.org 

Indiana Humanities will make reasonable modifications to ensure that everyone has an equal opportunity to enjoy our programs. If you need an accommodation, please email Sam Opsahl at sopsahl@indianahumanities.org. 

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