21st Annual Heartland Film Festival Ends on High Note  

A few short weeks following the 21st Annual Heartland Film Festival, leaders of the organization are calling it a smashing success, adding that the Festival ended on a high note for Festival-goers and filmmakers. The Festival experienced sell-out special events and screenings, with a 5.7 percent overall growth in screening attendance. The new venue at AMC Showplace Traders Point 12 experienced a 33 percent growth over 2011’s AMC Showplace 17 location. Over 90 filmmakers from 24 countries were in attendance throughout the Festival as 119 American and international films were screened and more than $140,000 in cash prizes was distributed to award winners. The annual Heartland Film Festival once again inspired filmmakers and audiences through the transformative power of independent films from around the world.

“For 21 years we have had the incredible opportunity at Heartland to inspire filmmakers and audiences through the transformative power of film,” said Jeffrey L. Sparks, president and CEO of Heartland Truly Moving Pictures. “We honor these independent filmmakers and recognize them for their significant contribution to the mission of Heartland Truly Moving Pictures.”

Awards and more than $140,000 in cash prizes were presented to 17 films. From those films, one Grand Prize winner was awarded per category:

  • The Grand Prize for Best Narrative Feature and a $100,000 cash prize went to: Cairo 678, directed by Mohamed Diab.
  • The Grand Prize for Best Documentary Feature and a $25,000 cash prize went to: Rising From Ashes, directed by T.C. Johnstone.
  • The Vision Award for Best Short Film and a $10,000 cash prize went to: Head Over Heels, directed by Timothy Reckart.

Chosen from thousands of ballots cast by audience members, the Audience Choice Awards were given to those films that were most enjoyed by Festival attendees. The 2012 winners are:

  • Audience Choice Award for Narrative Feature: A Bottle in the Gaza Sea, directed by Thierry Binisti.
  • Audience Choice Award for Documentary Feature (tie): Stuck, directed by Thaddaeus Scheel & Rising From Ashes, directed by T.C. Johnstone.
  • Audience Choice Award for Short Film: “It Ain’t Over”, directed by Caleb Slain.

Highlights from the 10-day film festival included:

  • Over 100 filmmakers and special guests from 24 countries were on hand for this year’s Festival. Many of them recognized the Heartland Film Festival as one of the best film festivals in the world, crediting the talent of the team, Hoosier hospitality and the passion and commitment of everyone involved.
  • Well-known producers and directors, such as Don Hahn (producer, Walt Disney’s Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King) and Corbin Bernsen (“Psych”), were in attendance throughout the Festival.
  • For the first time in Festival history a documentary film opened the 10-day event. Heartland Film Festival honored American Veterans with its sold out Opening Night Event screening of High Ground, a film that documents 11 wounded soldiers who overcome emotional and physical challenges as they scale a 20,000-foot mountain in the Himalayas. Numerous veterans groups were in attendance and honored.
  • Arriving at Heartland from Egypt with only $20 in his bank account, director Mohamed Diab won the $100,000 Grand Prize for Best Narrative Feature for his film Cairo 678. Cairo 678, a film that changed the landscape of sexual harassment awareness and legislation in Egypt, continues to inspire filmmakers and audiences all over the world.
  • More than 50 sponsors contributed to the success and growth of the 21st Annual Heartland Film Festival.

Jeff Sparks, President & CEO, closed the Festival by reminding audiences that “films do make a difference.”