Shine Global Is Celebrating Children’s Resilience with Indy Shorts Featuring 6 Inspirational Films At This Year’s Festival

The 2024 Academy Award®-Qualifying Film Festival Running July 23-28 Will Screen Shine Global’s Films Comedy Against the Odds and Anuja and Award a Shine Global Short Film Prize to One of Four Finalist Films 

June 27, 2024 – Shine Global is delighted to announce our films Comedy Against the Odds and Anuja are official selections at the 2024 Indy Shorts International Film Festival as well as share the four finalist short films in the Spotlight: Children’s Resilience program that are eligible for the Shine Global Children’s Resilience in Short Film Prize.

Indy Shorts is an Academy Award®-Qualifying Film Festival in all three short film categories (Live Action, Documentary and Animated) in addition to being named as both one of the “25 Coolest Film Festivals in the World” and one of the “Best Short Film Festivals in the World” by MovieMaker Magazine. Indy Shorts had a 30% increase in short film submissions from last year, with 5,130 shorts submitted for consideration to the 2024 festival with just over 200 receiving an Official Selection.  

Directed by 6-time Daytime Emmy Award winning Latina director/producer Suzanne Luna, Comedy Against the Odds, spotlights the struggle of growing up with labels, and how Austin uses comedy to embrace and overcome them, offering a heartfelt portrayal that will resonate with audiences of all ages. “Comedy Against the Odds” takes a poignant look at how humor becomes a powerful tool for self-expression and a means of breaking down societal stereotypes. Austin’s journey not only challenges preconceived notions about being on the spectrum but also highlights the universal power of laughter to bridge gaps and foster understanding. Comedy Against the Odds is screening Wednesday, July 24th at 7:45 PM at the Living Room Theaters as part of the Big Dreams program. Tickets are available here.

Anuja is Shine Global’s first fiction film and is the brainchild of the husband and wife team of Adam J. Graves and Suchitra Mattai (Cycle Vérité). With Graves directing and Mattai producing, Anuja tells the story of an exceptionally bright 9-year-old orphan, Anuja (Sajda Pathan), who works with her 17-year-old sister Palak (Ananya Shanbhag) at a garment factory in Delhi, India. When a teacher shows up at the factory, promising Anuja the rare chance to attend an elite boarding school, Anuja finds herself facing external hurdles and inner conflict.  Anuja screens Sunday, July 28 @ 3:30 PM at Living Room Theaters as part of The Human Spirit program. Tickets are available here.

The Children’s Resilience in Short Film Prize collaboration between Heartland Film Indy Shorts and Shine Global began in 2023 and aims to shed light on the challenges faced by children and their remarkable strength. The films featured in the Spotlight: Children’s Resilience with Shine Global program are all eligible to receive the Shine Global Children’s Resilience Short Film Prize of $2,500 and be honored again as part of Shine Global’s Resilience Awards ceremony in Los Angeles this fall.

“We are excited to continue our partnership with Heartland Film to shine a light on these inspiring stories of children’s resilience from around the world,” said Alexandra Blaney, Creative Director of Shine Global. “The films featured in the program range in subject matter and style but all of them feature children’s remarkable resilience in the face of adversity. Audiences will be inspired by these children’s courage and will be left wanting to do more to help children around the world.”

Shine Global’s Children’s Resilience Program is Saturday, July 27 at 3:30PM at the Living Room Theaters. Tickets are available here.

The four films in the Spotlight: Children’s Resilience with Shine Global program are:

1 UP | 2023 | United Kingdom | Greg Francis | Midwest Premiere

While dealing with the loss of his father, 15-year-old Andrew struggles to support his grieving mother through her emotional turmoil-and as his world slowly begins to fracture, he searches for guidance and connection through his late father’s record collection. 

A Short Film About Kids | 2023 | Palestine | Ibrahim Handal | Indiana Premiere

Four kids from the refugee camp in Bethlehem decide to visit the sea for the first time in their life. 

Makayla’s Voice: A Letter to the World | 2023 | United States | Julio Palacio | Indiana Premiere |

In the heartwarming short documentary, “Makayla’s Voice: A Letter to the World”, we are introduced to a remarkable young girl whose spirit and determination defy all expectations. Makayla, a teenage girl, has spent her life grappling with a rare form of autism that rendered her essentially nonverbal. However, her parents, filled with unwavering belief in their daughter’s potential, embarked on a transformative journey to discover the true depth of Makayla’s inner world. 

Unibrow | 2023 | Canada | Nedda Sarshar | Indiana Premiere

An Irani-Canadian girl is forced to rethink her relationship with her unibrow and her Irani heritage, when she is forced to make friends with the new girl from Iran.

Shine Global’s annual Resilience Awards honor exceptional films that center around the resilience of children and further the organization’s mission of improving children’s lives by harnessing the power of storytelling. Past winners include the feature documentaries Name Me Lawand (2023, Directed by Edward Lovelace and produced by Fleur Nieddu), Lift (2022, Directed by David Petersen and produced by Mary Racine), Ayenda (2023, directed by Marie Margolius) presented in partnership with Heartland Film’s Indy Shorts International Film Festival, the Unstoppable Kids prize presented to the animated children’s film Dounia – The Great White North (2024, directed by Marya Zarif and André Kadi and produced by Judith Beauregard) in partnership with the New York International Children’s Film Festival, a Children’s Resilience in Disability Stories Award to Okthanksbye (2022, directed by Nicole Van Kilsdonk and produced by Rogier Kramer) in partnership with ReelAbilities, and a Children’s Resilience in Screenwriting Award to Los Frikis (2024, written and directed by Tyler Nilson and Michael Schwartz) with Nantucket Film Festival. 

About Shine Global
Shine Global is a non-profit media company that improves the lives of children by telling powerful stories to raise awareness, promote action, and inspire change. We produce inspiring films and compelling content about underserved children. Through tailored distribution and outreach, we connect with our audiences in communities, classrooms, museums, and on Capitol Hill as part of a powerful engagement campaign to encourage social change.
Since our founding in 2005, Shine Global films have won more than 100 major awards, including an Academy Award® for Best Documentary Short Subject for Inocente and an Academy Award®-nomination and two Emmys® for War/Dance. Recent films include the documentary-animation hybrid Liyana, the hit documentary The Eagle Huntress, Through Our Eyes: Homefront which is available on HBOMax, the Ariel Award winner Home Is Somewhere Else, and Comedy Against the Odds which is currently in film festivals.

This annual event recognizes and celebrates the films and filmmakers that highlight the resilience and strength of children in the face of adversity. The awards are open to films of any genre that showcase children overcoming challenges, such as poverty, violence, illness, and discrimination, and demonstrate their resilience, courage, and determination.

About Heartland Film

Heartland Film is a nonprofit arts organization that runs the 11-day Heartland International Film Festival in October, the Academy Award®-Qualifying Indy Shorts International Film Festival in July, the Truly Moving Picture Award and other year-round programs. Based in Indianapolis, Heartland Film was founded in 1991 with the mission to curate, promote and celebrate thoughtful and engaging films from diverse perspectives. Over the years, Heartland Film has presented $3.5 million in cash prizes – the largest total amount awarded by any film festival in North America – presented 200+ studio films with the Truly Moving Picture Award, and showcased more than 2,000 feature and short films, including 10 Oscar®-winning short film titles. MovieMaker Magazine named both the Indy Shorts and Heartland International Film Festival on the top 25 Coolest Film Festivals in the World list for 2023. The 7th Annual Indy Shorts International Film Festival is scheduled July 23-28, 2024 and the 33rd Heartland International Film Festival runs October 10-20, 2024. For more information, visit