Heartland Truly Moving Pictures Blog

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Erasing Hate now available on DVD!

Bill Brummel’s striking portrait of a racist skinhead striving for redemption by removing his facial tattoos through an incredibly painful process is now available on DVD through the film’s website!

In early 2009, Bryon Widner’s face, neck and hands were covered with intimidating, racist tattoos. It was then he began a series of painful and extensive laser tattoo removal procedures—twenty-five treatments over the course of more than a year and a half. But the tattoo removal was just the outward sign of an inner transformation.

Erasing Hate chronicles both in a film that takes viewers inside the dark world of racist skinheads, yet offers hope in the story of one man’s struggle to escape from a life of violence, addiction and bigotry. When he and his wife grew disenchanted with their lifestyle, they reached out and were greeted with trust by the Southern Poverty Law Center and others, who helped them start new lives. It’s not a seamless process and the violence is hard to leave behind, but the physical transformation as the tattoos disappear accompanies their re-entry into society. They are welcomed without judgment and learn that race makes no difference in one’s humanity.

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Three 2012 Heartland Short Films Make Academy Awards® Short Lists

As a testament to the quality of films coming out of the 2012 Heartland Film Festival, The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences have announced their latest lists of short films that will advance in the voting process for for the 85th Academy Awards®.

Three films from the 2012 Heartland Film Festival have advanced, with one in each category (Live Action, Documentary and Animated shorts). The films include:

  • $10,000 Vision Award for Best Short Film winner “Head Over Heels” is one of 10 films on the Animated Shorts list. Read more

    Synopsis: After many years of marriage, Walter and Madge have grown apart: he lives on the floor and she lives on the ceiling. When Walter tries to reignite their old romance, their equilibrium comes crashing down and the couple that cannot agree which way is up must find a way put their marriage back together.

  • Festival Award Winner “Inocente” is one of 10 films on the Documentary Shorts list. Read more

    Synopsis: At 15, Inocente refuses to let her dream of becoming an artist be caged by being an undocumented immigrant forced to live homeless for the last nine years. Color is her personal revolution and its sweep on her canvases creates a world that looks nothing like her own dark past.

  • Festival Award Winner “Buzkashi Boys” is one of 11 films on the latest Live Action Shorts list. Read more

    Synopsis: Set against the dramatic landscape of contemporary Afghanistan and the national sport of Buzkashi—a brutal game of horse polo played with a dead goat —
    “Buzkashi Boys” tells the compelling coming-of-age story of two best friends; a charismatic street urchin and a defiant blacksmith’s son, both of whom struggle to realize their dreams.
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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. Read more »

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Update on Heartland Film Festival Films

It has only been a short time since this year’s Heartland Film Festival ended and we already have great updates on many 2012 films, along with another past selection:

  • “Inocente” (2012 Festival Award Winner – Short Film) is on the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ shortlist for Best Documentary Short Subject! Beyond Heartland, the film has won awards at EBS International Documentary Festival, San Antonio Film Festival, Arizona International Film Festival, Awareness Fest and Flagstaff Mountain Film Festival.

  • Erasing Hate (2012 Festival Official Selection – Documentary Feature), a powerful story of the physical and emotional transformation of a former racist skinhead, is now available to purchase on DVD at the film’s website,

  • Where Soldiers Come From (2011 Festival won a News and Documentary Emmy for “Outstanding Continuing Coverage of a News Story, Long Form”! Director/Producer Heather Courtney was at the October 1st ceremony to accept the award along with staff from POV, PBS and CPB, co-producers Megan Gilbride and David Hartstein, Dominic and Cole from the film and their mothers, Sharon and Mary. You can watch the ceremony online here (WSCF’s category is about 4 minutes in).
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Wreck-It Ralph is a Truly Moving Picture!

From Walt Disney Animation Studios and Emmy®-winning director Rich Moore comes Wreck-It Ralph, a hilarious, arcade-game-hopping adventure. For decades, Ralph (voice of John C. Reilly) has been overshadowed by Fix-It Felix, Jr. (voice of Jack McBrayer), the good-guy star of their game who always gets to save the day. Tired of playing the role of a bad guy, Ralph takes matters into his own massive hands and sets off on a journey across the arcade through multiple generations of video games to prove he’s got what it takes to be a hero.

On his quest, Ralph meets tough-as-nails Sergeant Calhoun (voice of Jane Lynch) from the first-person action game Hero’s Duty, and feisty misfit Vanellope von Schweetz (voice of Sarah Silverman) from the candy-coated cart-racing game Sugar Rush, who may just be his first real friend. But everything changes when a deadly enemy is unleashed, threatening the entire arcade and Vanellope herself. Ralph finally gets his chance to save the day—but can he do it in time?

One word the Truly Moving Picture Award jury kept using at this screening was “creative.” The way Ralph’s video game world was actualized was an impressive achievement with plenty of warmth. For many members, certain elements of the film brought back memories of The Wizard of Oz and Toy Story. Even though this isn’t a film our jury thought would be intended for adults, at the end Ralph won them over thanks to its sweet story about learning how to be okay with who you are.

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Spielberg’s Lincoln Wins the Truly Moving Picture Award!

Steven Spielberg directs two-time Academy Award® winner Daniel Day-Lewis in Lincoln, a revealing drama that focuses on the 16th President’s tumultuous final months in office. In a nation divided by war and the strong winds of change, Lincoln pursues a course of action designed to end the war, unite the country and abolish slavery. With the moral courage and fierce determination to succeed, his choices during this critical moment will change the fate of generations to come.

During President Lincoln’s tumultuous final months in office, he pursues a course of action to end the Civil War, unite the country and abolish slavery.

Our jury was completely floored by Lincoln. They loved how real it felt and how human the movie portrayed Abraham Lincoln, especially the way he told stories to his colleagues. The technical achievements to the accuracy to the time “brought the era to life.” One jury member said Lincoln was a “powerful story of courage and determination.” This is easily one of the most beloved movies the Truly Moving Pictures Award jury has seen in 2012.

  • View the Lincoln Truly Moving Picture Award page
  • Check out the official Lincoln website
  • See Lincoln in theaters – Nov. 9 limited release, Nov. 16 wide release
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Join Us for First Friday!

Friday, Nov. 2, 6 – 10 p.m.
1043 Virginia Ave., Ste. 2, Indianapolis, IN 46203
Admission: FREE

Join us in our screening room as we show the 2012 Heartland Film Festival Vision Award for Best Short Film winner “Head Over Heels”!

Screenings will run every 15 minutes throughout the evening. Popcorn, soda, Coppola Wine and Sun King Beer (the official beer of the 2012 Heartland Film Festival) will be available for purchase. Tour Heartland’s space, meet our staff and enjoy an Award-winning short film!

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5 Reasons To Attend the Heartland Film Festival

By: Nichole C. Davis

It’s Heartland Film Festival time again! What a great time it is. With 119 films to choose from, the options are endless. So many movies, so little time to see them all. Here are 5 reasons to face the rain and clouds and head to Heartland before it’s too late:

1. Stay-cations were the rage this summer. Whether a family or a young-twenty something in the midst of a busy wedding season, it isn’t easy to get away from the hub-bub and chaos of work, house and school. The Heartland Film Festival let’s you immerse yourself in a mini-vacation. For an hour, or just a couple of minutes – you travel to a new country, get lost in the language, the sites and the sounds. Check out Hayfever, as twenty-somethings struggle to fall in love in Italy; Starry, Starry Night’s beautiful cinematography and images of Taiwan, China; or Valley of Saints set in an endangered lake community of Kashmir, India.

2. Get inspired: As our sunny days become shorter and sweaters a bit thicker, it is easy to get bogged down by grey skies, come to the Heartland Film Festival to get inspired by the powerful stories waiting for you. Who Cares? is a documentary film about people making a difference and encourage their communities, All Me: The Life and Times of Winfred Rembert about the parallel life an artist and his art, and Dave, about the surprising reconciliatory power of basketball.  

3. Movies for Dinner: How do we keep kids of all ages engaged in a family-fun activity? It’s rarely easy to please the whole family especially at dinner. Why not have movies for dinner? Family dinners are a great place to talk about the stories you and your family took part in at the Festival. The shared experience of the story and mealtime brings you closer together, and you know the movies you are seeing are good for you, your family and the soul. Films of every genre can liven dinner, and if you weren’t able to make it to the highlighted family film, 3 Day Test, don’t fret, there are many more to choose from. Others include, L’equip Petit in the shorts program 1, about 14 children who set out to solve a football mystery, The Assignment, where a young high school student is given an assignment that sets her on an exciting journey, or Past Their Prime, a documentary short about Colo’s 55th birthday, because birthdays are better with gorillas!

4. Quiet, rest time isn’t just for kids: Heartland gives you movies at all times of day, so you can get away from the hustle and bustle of classes, carpool, traffic and lines at the coffee shop. The afternoon is a great time to head to the Festival. Kipp Normand will remind you of the value of history and art (part of Festival Award Shorts 1), Rising From Ashes chronicles the journey of the Rwandan National Cycling Team and their first Olympic appearance in London, and the “Interesting Individuals” in the shorts program 3 will introduce you to Good Karma $1, bringing inspiration to your afternoons!

5. Laughter is some great medicine: The Mayo Clinic points out that in just the short-term, laughter soothes tension, relaxes your stress response and improves your intake of oxygen, which stimulates your heart, lungs, and muscles. Laughter boosts the amount of endorphins released in your brain. The warm-hearted comedies at the Festival bring on that laughter and the happy side effects with genuine ease and sincere bliss. Not That Funny reminds us we aren’t all comedic talents, Friend Request Pending leads us through the too-true-truths of navigating social media and dating – no matter what age, and Free Samples brings great acting and laughter to working extra shifts at that job you never expected right out of college.

So, why go to The Heartland Film Festival? Dodging rain clouds and commercial television? Sure, but why not come for the truly moving pictures?  Oh, and the free coffee.

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HFF Interview: Walk Tall

One of the biggest surprises of the year is the short “Wall Tall”. A short film about improving one’s posture seems like it would be a judging lecture instead of a silly exploration of a fascinating man. George Weedon was an Olympic gymnast in 1948 and today he teaches others about how to stay physically fit. Director Kate Sullivan tells his story with warmth and creativity. When she talked with us, Kate explained how she found George and what it took to make the really fun final scene. But before that, Kate wanted to say a few words to you!

Hello  – Kate here.

I’ve been asked by the good people at The Heartland Film Festival to answer a few questions – but before I do I just wanted to say a quick thank you to the festival organizers for selecting my (first) film. This has made me very proud. Thank you.

George is very proud to have the film screened at your festival in Indianapolis is the amateur sports capital of the world! Here is a photo which I thought may be of interest:

It’s on the Film’s Facebook page. The film also has a website, where you can find out more about George and the adventures we’ve had with the film in 2012.

Very best wishes, thanks again and I hope you enjoy the film!

Kate Read more »

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HFF Interview: Caris’ Peace

Not many people know the name Caris Corfman, but her grace and talent enamored all of those who worked with her. Caris was a working actress in film, television and theatre before she was diagnosed with a brain tumor that cost Caris her short term memory. Director Gaylen Ross made a heartwarming documentary showing return to her return to her craft when she made a one-woman show about her life. We were able to talk to Gaylen about what it was like to film with Caris and what was the most important way to tell her story.

Heartland Film Festival: When did you first meet Caris Corfman? Was it long before she started working on her one-woman show or was it the show that caught your attention?

Gaylen: I knew Caris in the 1980s when she was acting and I was directing theater at the West Bank Cafe Downstairs Theater Bar, a really cool place that was created by former Yale Drama School graduates – among them Lewis Black and Rand Foerster, and also musician/ composer Rusty Magee.

Caris was a brilliant young actress, one of the very bright talents out of Yale – she went straight to Broadway in Amadeus from school. Caris acted at the West Bank when she wasn’t involved in a larger theater venture. We knew each other well for several years and then in the early 90′s Caris started to manifest symptoms that were later understood to be a brain tumor. At the time we didn’t know that was the cause – weight gain, headaches, personality shifts – until she had a seizure in a subway and a benign tumor was diagnosed. Four surgeries later and years of recovery in rehab facilities, Caris was left without any short–term memory.

She was able to recall everything before the surgery. But it was very difficult if not impossible for her to create new memories — what she did a few hours before, or the pages of a book she had just been reading.   Caris had  one passion – her acting – and the desire to return to the stage and that is what compelled her to find a way to develop her one-woman show.

We had started to film years before the possibility of Caris returning to the stage was even considered, and we had no expectations that is where the film would lead, or where Caris herself would take us. But she did!

Heartland Film Festival: What were the challenges of filming with Caris? Did her condition ever make her frustrated with the process?

Gaylen: There were no real challenges to filming Caris other than we tried to divide equally ‘film’ time and just ‘friend’ time so that filming became a part of the  entire process and not the objective. Caris had told Rebecca Nelson (her acting classmate at Yale, and collaborative filmmaker with me)  and I that she had some things she wanted to talk about – how she experienced her memory loss, how she felt now as a person and trying to live independently with a disability. And how she felt about herself as an actress. Caris was always very articulate about her condition, unlike Alzheimer’s or dementia, she was aware of what had happened to her and indeed there were signs she was getting better. Until Caris actually started the rehearsal process, it was just myself and Rebecca with a camera. No crew, no other distractions. I wanted to make Caris as comfortable as possible with our filming, and keep the situation intimate with friends. Then later when she began work on  the one-woman show, and the camera  and crew appeared, we were worried that this would fluster her. But Caris was such a pro as an actress, not only didn’t it distract her, she really enjoyed having the camera  there for her performances. She was a theater pro always and could handle it all even without her memory

Heartland Film Festival: Watching the rehearsal process for the show was one of the nerve-wracking portions of the movie. You really want her to succeed but you’re not sure what the final project will look like. What do you think her show accomplished?

Gaylen: We were always on the edge of our seats during the rehearsal process and especially the performance. Live theater is about that anyway – knowing that anything can happen at any time.

With Caris it took on special meaning, as not only were memorizing lines impossible for Caris, there were the concerns of where and how to move on stage, remembering notes from one rehearsal to another, and sometimes, even why she was there at all. One of the reasons that I wanted to do the film was that when audiences saw Caris’ finished performance, it was so flawless and polished, and she was so amazing as an actress, they didn’t fully appreciated how difficult and often terrifying it was for Caris to do this. What the film tries to do is to reveal the incredible efforts Caris made and her will and courage to get back on stage, and the great work her theater director Brad Watkins did in literally inventing a process for Caris to succeed. Caris through her show wanted people to understand that even with brain injury, people can accomplish what they want to do. But it is really more than that. It is about meeting great challenges with the best  the human spirit can offer.

One other thing doing the play offered is healing. Caris really started to get better as she became more actively engaged in the work process, in rehearsal, in writing and performing, and being involved again in the theater community.  I don’t think I can overstate the value of work and the meaning it gives to one’s life and dignity of purpose. A result of which I believe – and I leave this for the neuroscientists to figure out – is that Caris found ways to start making memories and being present in a new way in her life.

Heartland Film Festival: Seeing the importance of memory from an actor’s point of view was something I had never thought about before. Beyond just memorizing lines and cues, the memory affects the way you embody the character. This situation was especially interesting since the character that Caris was playing was herself. How do you think her condition changed the way Caris viewed herself and is that how she portrayed it onstage?”

Gaylen: First off there were tremendous physical changes that Caris endured because of the tumor and subsequent surgeries. It was originally a pituitary tumor which controls eating and Caris gained a lot of weight. And she was diabetic and was taking many medications to keep her alive. Things also slowed down for Caris because of the brain trauma. People around her had to take more time with explanations or in conversations – fast cross-talk was annoying to Caris because she couldn’t always follow the dialogue. she became more easily frustrated. She also understood that while people had her best interest at heart, she wanted to retain her independence. But that wasn’t always easy, and she had many limitations on activity and diet. The play, and especially the first-person part of it, tells her story,  and it was her way of not just venting, but putting it into art. The play reflects the highs and lows of her experience, and yet is always entertaining and aware of the story-telling with beautiful language. It was important to me that the film used the play throughout so that Caris could tell her own story in her own words. This is one of the promises I made to Caris in the filming – that no one would speak for her.

Heartland Film Festival: Are you working on a next project?

Gaylen: I’m thinking of a number of documentary projects and also a feature film, all of them now I would like to do in Israel. I also have a great film on boxing that was never completed, and would love to finish that.

Heartland Film Festival: What are some of the moving films that have inspired you as a filmmaker?

Gaylen: I like films with great dramatic storytelling and that don’t tell you everything in the beginning. I like the weave of a plot and figuring out what will happen – I like it when the film is ahead of me.  Quentin Tarantino said in an interview, and I agree, how much fun it used to be to walk into movie theaters when films already were halfway through. You used to be able to do this easily as one screening would run in to another, and you could just stay for as many as you liked. Doing that you had to work hard to understand what was happening because you missed the first part, and then when you saw the beginning, you would be pleased and/or surprised if you were right or wrong. My favorite films are still Godfathers 1 and 2, I also like films like The Good Shepherd and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, or terrific television dramas – the British version of State of Play, Prime Suspect, Luther and now Homeland to name a few.

You can buy tickets for Caris’ Peace for the following screenings:

  • Mon, Oct 22, 12:30 p.m. -  AMC Castleton Square 14
  • Thu, Oct 25, 11:45 a.m. -  AMC Castleton Square 14*
  • Fri, Oct 26, 6:45 p.m. -  AMC Showplace Traders Point 12*
    • Two neuroscientists will be joining Director Gaylen Ross for the post-film Q&A – Professor Andrew Saykin, Director of the Center for Neuroimaging, Indiana University School of Medicine & Assistant Professor in Neurology, Gwen Sprehn, Indiana University School of Medicine
  • Sat, Oct 27, 11:15 a.m. -  AMC Showplace Traders Point 12

*Director Gaylen Ross will be in attendance for post-film discussion.

Interview conducted by Austin Lugar.

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