In the midst of all the films being showcased at Heartland Film Festival this year, there are a few that hit a little closer to home than others – literally. Heartland has an entire category titled the Indiana Spotlight category, in which independent films shot partially or entirely in Indiana can be entered. In fact one of these films, The Storyteller, was filmed entirely in the Fishers area, and with its heartfelt story and Indiana charm, this movie may invoke a tear or two.
Simply put, The Storyteller is about rediscovering the importance of family. The film centers around Maggie (Samantha Colburn), who is dealing with her bedridden grandmother, Rosemary (Constance Towers), the loss of her husband and a broken relationship with her adopted daughter, Jen (Cassidy Mack). In the midst of everything, a young girl named Abby (Brooklyn Rae Silzer) stumbles into this family that’s falling apart, and through her spirit and impeccable perception, she helps bring the family together. The film weaves original music with parallels to Peter Pan to create a locally crafted feel-good movie.
Brooklyn Rae Silzer steals this show. The Storyteller marks her feature film debut, and she does not disappoint in the slightest. It’s no wonder all the characters in this film start to fall in love with her; her energy is infectious, and it’s hard not to smile while she’s on screen. Cassidy Mack and James Snyder (who plays music teacher and love interest John Griffin) also do a fantastic job, especially with the music. Music plays a large role in this film and is one of the things that brings all of these characters together. Co-producer Nancy Crump wrote the two original songs in the film, which were actually performed by the cast. Mack and Snyder’s voices blend beautifully and breathe life into the original music.
This film also acts as an amazing conversation starter for two tough-to-talk-about topics: the mental health struggles of the elderly and the difficulties often faced by those in our foster care system. And both of these issues are driven by the personal experiences of the filmmakers. The director’s mother suffered from a form of dementia that causes hallucinations, which was a direct inspiration for the character of Rosemary, who believes Abby is her older sister that never grew up. The character of Jen and her experiences with the foster care system is also enhanced by actress Cassidy Mack and her real life experience in foster care. These moments felt by the cast and crew grounded this story in reality, which is a stark contrast to the fairy tale elements of the movie.
Overall, this film is full of heart, and anyone can find a moment or character that they can relate their own lives to. For people who grew up in Indiana, keep an eye out for some local favorites (Handel’s Ice Cream and Greek’s Pizza make an appearance). The Storyteller is also on Hallmark’s video-on-demand service, so if you don’t have a chance to check it out at Heartland Film Festival this weekend, you have another opportunity to see this wondrous story come to life.
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