We Were Meant To, the Indy Shorts winner for Best Narrative Short Award

“We Were Meant To,” a film directed by Tari Wariebi that presents a world in which Black men can fly, received the Best Narrative Short Award at the Indy Shorts film festival this weekend, while “Oasis,” Justine Martine’s documentary about two twins growing up differently because of one’s disability, won the Best Documentary Short Award and Academy Award qualification.

Academy Award qualification also went to the festival’s Best Animated Short Award winner, “Rosemary A.D. (After Dad).” The story of parental insecurities was directed by Ethan Barrett. All three of the top awards included a $5,000 cash prize.

Indy Shorts — one of our 25 Coolest Film Festivals and 50 Film Festivals Worth the Entry Fee — is a crucial stop on the festival circuit, which celebrates of both A-list talent and Indiana’s growing film scene, while also providing a potential springboard to the Oscars, given its Academy Award qualifying status in certain categories. MovieMaker was delighted to attend this year.

More Indy Shorts Awards

The Pioneering Spirit Award, meanwhile, went to Breakwater Studios CEO and founder Ben Proudfoot, best known for his Oscar-winning film “The Queen of Basketball.”

It was also a good night for the production company Vanishing Angle, which is best known for films including The Wolf of Snow Hollow and The Beta Test, and which presented a fantastic block of shorts at the festival.

The short included Alden Ehrenreich’s directorial debut, “Shadow Brother Sunday,” for which he won the Directorial Debut Award and a cash prize of $1,000. They also included “Sleep Study,” a terrifying story of a nightmare-plagued recent mom, which won the Horror Award and a cash prize of $1,000. “Sleep Study” was directed by Natalie Metzger, who is also a producer and Vanishing Angle’s vice president of development and production.

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Other major awards included the $2,500 High School Film Competition Summer White Lynch Memorial Grand Prize for 19-year-old Wesley Wang, whose “Nothing, Except Everything,” is an ambitious, assured meditation on leaving high school and the number seven.

The recipient of the Children’s Resilience in Film Short Film Prize, presented by Shine Global, with a cash prize of $2,500, was “Ayenda,” about an Afghan women’s football team, directed by Marie Margolius. The recipient of the Jenni Berebitsky Legacy Award, with a cash prize of $1,800, was the racial-wealth gap documentary “The Barber of Little Rock,” directed by John Hoffman and Christine Turner.

The recipient of the Indiana Spotlight Award, with a cash prize of $1,500, was “Love, Grandma,” a moving exploration of grief directed by Matt Spear.

The recipient of the Comedy Award, with a cash prize of $1,000, was “They Grow Up So Fast,” a rapid-fire story of a hookup that leads too quickly to parenthood, directed, written by and starring John F. Beach. It debuted last year at the Louisiana Film Prize in Shreveport, Lousiana, where it won.

The recipient of Indy Shorts’ Richard D. Propes Social Impact Award, with a cash prize of $1,000, was “Deciding Vote,” a story of one lawmaker’s change of heart on abortion, directed by Jeremy Workman and Robert Lyons.

More Highlights

Highlights of the festival, which ends today, included a “Big Names, Short Films” block that included not only Ehrenreich’s directing debut — in which he plays an older brother plotting to steal his celebrity younger brother’s laptop to sell to a gossip agency – but also documentaries featuring CODA Oscar winner Troy Kotsur and Killers of the Flower Moon star Lily Gladstone.

The star power extended beyond the “Big Names” block: Werewolves Within and This Is Us star Milana Vayntrub also traveled to Indiana to present her own engrossing directorial debut short, “Pickled Herring,” about a woman (Vayntrub) who needs to rely on her unpredictable father after a bad fall.

Indy Shorts is presented by Heartland Film, which winds down the shorts festival by starting up its preparations for the Heartland International Film Festival, which takes place this fall from October 5-15. Like Indy Shorts, it is one of our 50 Film Festivals Worth the Entry Fee and 25 Coolest Film Festivals in the World.

Main image: A scene from Tari Wariebi’s “We Were Meant To,” winner of the Best Narrative Short Award at Indy Shorts.