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Heartland Truly Moving Pictures Blog

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HFF Interview: Stuck

Thaddaeus Scheel is a filmmaker who made a movie about the unforeseen difficulties of starting a family. Stuck is a great movie about a group of families who face bureaucratic impossibilities as they try to bring home their adopted children. Thaddaeus was very gracious to talk to us about where it was the hardest places to film and what it meant to emotionally connect with these families.

Heartland Film Festival: As a documentarian you are supposed to stay removed but with stories like these, that seems impossible not to become emotionally invested in these families. Did you start to experience the same frustration as they fought the system?

Thaddaeus: I was incredibly moved by each of their stories and shared their joys and frustrations with each new development. As a filmmaker, I was looking for families that faced a mountain of bureaucratic challenges, while hoping that they would prevail in the short timeframe we had to shoot the film. The more challenges they faced the more opportunity we had to create a film that revealed the struggles that are all too common in intercountry adoption, so it was a mix of emotions for me.

Heartland Film Festival: While you were doing research for this film, what were some of the shocking pieces of information that you found about the adoption bureaucracy?

Thaddaeus: I found the general lack of urgency on the State Department and governments around the world to address the needs of these children, to be shocking. These are intelligent people with the power and resources to negotiate complex treaties, trade agreements and disaster response on a global scale, yet placing a severely neglected child in a loving family in a reasonable timeframe seems to be beyond their abilities…. or at least their priorities.

Heartland Film Festival: When you are filming these families, you don’t know how long the process is going to be for them. Was there ever a point when you didn’t know when you would stop filming?

Thaddaeus: The choice of which family to follow and for how long was a challenge and something we considered carefully. As you can see in the film, the average adoption is nearly three years, our production window was half that time. The point in which we entered into their stories would require a different approach with each family. We were fortunate that all the families had some home video footage that we could use for the period before we started filming. We then just crossed our fingers that their adoptions would move forward to some resolution, good or bad before we ran out of time to complete the film. There were several families that we interviewed that never brought their children home.

Heartland Film Festival: The families had a lot of problem with gathering information and where they were allowed to be. As a filmmaker, did you run into any difficulties about trying to gain access to particular places or interview specific people? Was filming in different countries difficult?

Thaddaeus: We encountered problems with government officials in several countries. My main camera and most of my gear was held at the airport in Ethiopia for three days because they didn’t approve our paperwork. The situation was very chaotic and we were able to move two smaller DSLR cameras into our cleared bags without them noticing. Otherwise we would have been playing cards at the hotel for three days!  There was also a funny moment when we “hired” police officers for security while they were on duty… and in the middle of shooting they head up production to check our permits.

In Vietnam, they require a government official to be with film crews at all times so we applied for a tourist visa, packed lightly and tried not to be to flashy with the gear.   I wanted to interview Vietnamese adoption officials, but that just wasn’t possible under the tight scrutiny.

Now that I think about it, the biggest hassle we faced was right in front of our own Capital Building (and ironically just a few blocks from the actual Bill of Rights) where police held us for an hour in ninety degree heat as they checked our ID’s. At which point they handed them back, and cheerfully said “good luck with the film!”

Heartland Film Festival: Is there a next project that you are working on?

Thaddaeus: At the time if this interview we are still working on the film and will then be out promoting it, so haven’t committed to any future projects at this point. I’d like to shoot a short film with the children at the orphanage in Haiti, a scripted fantastical tale that came to me while I was there with them, for the documentary.

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

Thaddaeus: There have been many films that have inspired me over the years… Recently, I’ve seen two docs that left me stunned. The first was Hell & Back Again directed by Danfung Dennis which takes the viewer inside the mind of a US marine at war and at home. This film works on every level. The second was Mugabe and the White African which is beautifully shot and brims with tension throughout.

Thank you for screening Stuck at Heartland, I see this “truly moving” support as a major step toward helping these children find their way into a loving family.

You can purchase tickets for Stuck for the following days…

- Sunday, October 21 at 5 p.m. at AMC Showplace Traders Point 12
- Monday, October 22 at 5 p.m. at AMC Castleton Square 14
- Tuesday, October 23 at 7:15 p.m. at AMC Castleton Square 14
- Saturday, October 27 at 1:15 p.m. at AMC Showplace Traders Point 12

Interview conducted by Austin Lugar

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HFF Films: “We Do What We Can Because We Can”

There are so many films at this year’s Heartland Film Festival (118, to be exact). You might be asking yourself, “What should I see?”

To give you a greater feel for our films, Heartland Film Festival’s own Austin Lugar has separated the titles into 12 themed categories, one of which is:

“We Do What We Can Because We Can”

Why climb a mountain? Because it’s there. These are people who achieve the incredible because they know they have the ability to do it. From cycling through Rwanda to marching into 1944 Berlin, these are stories of the most impressive feats.

Awaken the Dragon

Official Selection, Documentary Feature

The ancient Chinese sport of dragon boating catapults an unlikely crew of cancer survivors into a new way of being. Redefining the word ‘sick’ and re-framing the meaning of their diagnosis, these fractured individuals transform into a single force of power and beauty.

  • Sun, Oct 21, 12:30PM – AMC Castleton Square 14
  • Mon, Oct 22, 12:00PM – AMC Showplace Traders Point 12
  • Wed, Oct 24, 7:30PM – AMC Castleton Square 14
  • Sat, Oct 27, 1:15PM – AMC Castleton Square 14

High Ground

Opening Night Event Film, Documentary Feature

Featuring stunning cinematography and powerful emotions, High Ground is an honest and gripping portrayal of veterans returning from the longest war in American history. Their poignant story unfolds in unexpected ways as the team makes their way high into the Himalayan Mountains, through the villages of Nepal, over raging rivers and up terrifying steep terrain risking everything for a chance at the summit.

  • Thu, Oct 18, 7:30PM – Indianapolis Museum of Art

Sponsored by: Aronstam Fine Jewelers and OneAmerica


Rising From Ashes

Festival Award Winner, Documentary Feature

Two worlds collide when cycling legend Jock Boyer moves to Rwanda to help the first Rwandan National Cycling Team in their six year journey to the Olympic Games in London. As they set out against impossible odds both Jock and the team find new purpose as they rise from the ashes of their past.

  • Fri, Oct 19, 10:00AM – AMC Castleton Square 14
  • Fri, Oct 19, 4:30PM – AMC Castleton Square 14
  • Sat, Oct 20, 10:45AM – AMC Castleton Square 14
  • Sun, Oct 21, 12:30PM – AMC Showplace Traders Point 12
  • Mon, Oct 22, 7:00PM – Pike Performing Arts Center – w/ Intro by Jack Hanna
  • Wed, Oct 24, 12:15PM – AMC Showplace Traders Point 12
  • Fri, Oct 26, 1:30PM – AMC Showplace Traders Point 12
  • Sat, Oct 27, 6:15PM – AMC Castleton Square 14

Saints and Soliders: Airbone Creed

Official Selection, Narrative Feature

Based on actual events and inspired by the book “Letters Home—A Paratrooper’s Story,” by Lory Curtis, Saints and Soldiers: Airborne Creed tells the story of the 517th Parachute Regimental Combat Team (PRCT) and their participation in Operation Dragoon, which took place on August 15, 1944 in southern France. Their mission was to support and protect Allied troops in their march toward Berlin.

    • Sun, Oct 21, 2:30PM – AMC Castleton Square 14
    • Tue, Oct 23, 5:00PM – AMC Castleton Square 14
    • Thu, Oct 25, 6:15PM – AMC Showplace Traders Point 12
    • Sat, Oct 27, 11:30AM – AMC Showplace Traders Point 12
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      New Film Series Brings Classic TMPA-winning Hollywood Musicals to the Palladium

      Heartland Truly Moving Pictures and the Michael Feinstein Great American Songbook Initiative are partnering for a new film series launching the weekend of Nov. 15-17. The Great American Songbook Movie Series, presented by Printing Partners, will bring classic Truly Moving Picture Award-winning movies to the big screen once again within the main hall of the Palladium. The partnership will kick-off with screenings of “White Christmas,” “The Sound of Music,” “An American in Paris” and an audience sing-a-long of “The Wizard of Oz.”

      In addition to movies, select screenings will include guest speakers, plus opportunities to explore music and memorabilia from the Initiative’s archives and upcoming gallery exhibits. The pre- and post-movie events will demonstrate the ties between classic movies and the American songbook.

      “This is an extraordinary opportunity to screen classic movies that showcase the Great American Songbook,” said Karen Kelsey, director of the Michael Feinstein Great American Songbook Initiative. “It is a great honor to partner with Heartland Truly Moving Pictures. Each film in this collection has received Heartland’s prestigious Truly Moving Picture Award. This is a fabulous new opportunity to foster our community’s love affair with American standards showcased in classic films.”

      Greg Sorvig, director of marketing and communications for Heartland Truly Moving Pictures, is an avid listener of American standards. “After my first visit to the Michael Feinstein Great American Songbook Initiative Archive and Gallery I had big ideas for a film series tie-in. Luckily, the stars aligned, and when I contacted the folks at the Initiative they were seeking a partner for a similar opportunity. Being able to show Truly Moving Picture Award-winning films within the Palladium concert hall will be a dream come true for all of us. People are going to love watching these classic films in this amazing venue.”

      Single tickets for The Great American Songbook Movie Series, presented by Printing Partners, are $7.50 and are available for purchase online at www.TheCenterPresents.org, in person at the Palladium box office or call the Center’s box office at 317-843-3800. All seats are general admission.

      The kick-off weekend will include:*

      • Thursday, Nov. 15 (7:30 p.m.): White Christmas (1954) – Starring Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye and Rosemary Clooney.
      • Friday, Nov. 16 (2 p.m.): The Sound of Music (1965) – Starring Julie Andrews, Christopher Plummer and Eleanor Parker.
      • Friday, Nov. 16 (7:30 p.m.): An American in Paris (1951) – Starring Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron. Directed by Vincente Minnelli.
      • Saturday, Nov. 17 (10:30 a.m.): The Wizard of Oz (1939) – Starring Judy Garland, Billie Burke, Frank Morgan, Margaret Hamilton and Ray Bolger. Guests will be welcome to sing-a-long.

      The film series will continue with Friday screenings featuring:*

      • Nov. 30 (7:30 p.m.): The Music Man (1962) – Starring Buddy Hackett, Ron Howard, Robert Preston and Shirley Jones.
      • Dec. 14 (7:30 p.m.): Mary Poppins (1964) – Starring Dick Van Dyke and Julie Andrews.
      • Jan. 11 (7:30 p.m.): Alexander’s Ragtime Band (1938) – Songs by Irving Berlin.
      • Feb. 1 (7:30 p.m.): Kiss Me Kate (1953) – Starring Ann Miller and Howard Keel.
      • Mar. 29 (7:30 p.m.): Singin’ in the Rain (1952) – Gene Kelly, Debbie Reynolds, Donald O’Connor and Cyd Charisse.

      *Film titles are subject to change based on availability through the distributor.

      Michael Feinstein’s Great American Songbook Initiative is an archive, museum and education center at the Center for the Performing Arts, in Carmel City Center. The performing arts campus includes the 1,600-seat Palladium concert hall, the Tarkington 500-seat proscenium theater and the 200-seat Studio Theater. The Center is a permanent fixture on the Central Indiana landscape and will provide an extraordinary listening experience for audiences, acting as a museum and education center by day and a concert venue by night.

      Heartland Truly Moving Pictures, a non-profit arts organization, inspires filmmakers and audiences through the transformative power of film. Its flagship event, the Heartland Film Festival®, launched in 1991 and runs each October in Indianapolis, screening inspiring independent films from around the world. Each year, the Festival awards more than $140,000 in cash prizes and presents its Crystal Heart Awards to the top-judged submissions. Heartland has awarded more than $2.4 million to support filmmakers during the last 20 years. The organization’s Truly Moving Picture Award was created to honor films released theatrically that align with Heartland’s mission. By bestowing this award seal to honored films, the award allows studios and distributors to inform audiences of a film’s transformative power and appeal. Heartland is also dedicated to cultivating youth, and thus created the Heartland Institute to provide innovative educational and outreach programs that enrich the minds and lives of youth and aspiring filmmakers.

      Printing Partners’ mission is to combine technological innovation with traditional craftsmanship to produce effective marketing communications. And while we embrace technology, we recognize that our greatest asset is our people, who are your partners in this process. For its entire existence Printing Partners has been a tireless supporter of the arts. Since 2004 it has awarded Partners Grants to not-for-profit groups to provide in-kind support for marketing or development projects. This year more than $250,000 in grants and sponsorships have been awarded to central Indiana arts and service organizations.

      Printing Partners is one of central Indiana’s leading commercial printers with both offset and digital capabilities. It offers direct marketing solutions that integrate mail, Internet and email. Printing Partners is a tireless supporter of the arts and in 2011 it was recognized by Americans for the Arts as one of the top ten companies in the United States for its arts support. For more information visit www.printingpartners.net.

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      HFF Interview: Erasing Hate

      Bryon Widner used to be a skinhead white supremacist. He filled his face with hateful tattoos that representing his violent actions and cruelty towards others. After years of being in that group, Bryon left and started a family. Trying to leave that life behind, he starts the process of removing his face tattoos. Director Bill Brummel documented this process capturing a really powerful story about redemption with the movie Erasing Hate. We talked to Bill about the bond he created with Bryon and the difficulty of filming lasers.

      Heartland: Bryon Widner is the perfect documentary subject. How did you hear about his story?

      Bill: I have a close working relationship with the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). Morris Dees, the Center’s co-founder has appeared in a few of my previous films. In late 2008 I received a call from Richard Cohen, the President of the Law Center, telling me about Bryon’s story and letting me know that SPLC had decided to pay for his tattoo removal.  He asked if I thought it might make a good film.  I jumped at the story. The metaphor was almost too good to be true, the tattoo removal being the outward sign of an inner transformation. But before moving forward, I had to be convinced that Bryon could carry a film.  To do that, I flew to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan to meet him and his family. Bryon was so articulate and passionate, yet clearly struggling with the demons from his past.  His lovely family was an added bonus. After just one day with them, it was full speed ahead with the film.

      Heartland: During his sessions with the plastic surgeon, everyone is wearing goggles because they are dealing with laser. Did that ever affect your equipment? What was it like filming those sequences? Especially watching him go through such pain?

      Bill: It was very difficult to see Bryon suffer so intensely. It was incongruous to see this tough guy, with his violent past, cringing in agony during and after the procedures.  But I see the pain Bryon endured as his penance.  We all make mistakes. We all are in need of redemption at times in our lives. Now Bryon’s mistakes were written all over his face, and they were more serious than the ones most of us make. But I don’t think that should not deny him a shot at forgiveness and redemption, especially if he is sincere in his desire to change and to make amends for his past sins.

      We did have a scare with the camera equipment.  We used a Panasonic VariCam as our lead camera, and a Panasonic HDX-170 as the second camera.  When shooting the third treatment, Kevin O’Brien, my cinematographer, noticed in his viewfinder some odd streaks shooting out from the laser. When we played back the footage that night, those streaks appeared as giant green lightning bolts in the image. That footage was unusable and we became concerned this would happen a lot.  But the problem only surfaced when a certain laser was used, and when it was set at specific wavelength. The medical team often adjusted the laser type and wavelengths, dependent on the color of the ink and its intensity. Fortunately the cameras never sustained any damage.

      The goggles presented a challenge for our photographers but they did a tremendous  job overcoming that obstacle.

      Heartland: At one point, one of the nurses talk about how she felt more comfortable with Bryon as he was losing his tattoos and it’s not clear on whether it was because he was in a better mood or she was able to see him as more beyond the tattoos. How did your relationship evolve with Bryon over the course of filming?

      Bill: Of course in the beginning there was a little internal discomfort for some on the Vanderbilt University Medical Center team. But they were so professional.  I can say with complete confidence that from day one, Dr. Bruce Shack and his staff looked beyond the tattoos to see the real human being under the ink. They never treated Bryon differently than they any other patient.  And as the months of treatments passed, a deep bond developed between Bryon and Julie and many on the staff.  You can see that connection in the emotional goodbye at the final treatment.

      Never in my wildest dreams did I expect to become so fond of Bryon and Julie and their family.  Bryon represented so many things that I despised. But I am also a believer in second chances.  In the early stages of the treatments, I was concerned Bryon would give up simply because the pain was just too extreme. But he was so determined to change his life that he wouldn’t allow himself to quit. And he did it not only for himself, but for his wife and family. I respect that. They have become my friends.

      Heartland: Has this film been screened to other members of the ex-skinhead community? How have they reacted to it?

      Bill: I can’t say for certain whether anyone from the white nationalist movement has attended a screening.  If one or more has, none of them have approached me to discuss the film. However there has been plenty of hostility expressed toward Bryon on skinhead and other white power websites.

      This is important. It took an extreme amount of courage for Bryon and Julie to do this film.  It’s not easy to get out of the movement. The Southern Poverty Law Center’s Joe Roy says it so well in the film, “Skinheads believe death before dishonor and dishonor is when someone leaves the movement.” And in fact, Bryon faced death threats when he got out.  And we knew that doing the movie could open him up to more threats. Before we started filming, I had several sober discussions with Bryon and Julie about the possible ramifications of participating.

      But Bryon was steadfast in his reasons for wanting to share his story with the world.  He wants to show people who feel trapped inside the white power movement, that there is a way out.  And just as importantly, he hopes  to convince others not to join the movement in the first place. It’s a cautionary tale. And Bryon and Julie have risked their own safety to try to keep others out of the same dead-end life they lived and then escaped.

      Heartland: Are you working on a next project?

      Bill: As they say, I have several projects in development! So for now, mum is the word on those.  I have been working on finding international and other distribution outlets for Erasing Hate.

      Heartland: What were some moving films that inspired you as a filmmaker?

      Bill: I am inspired by so many films. It’s tough to single them out but here are a few. As a student of the Civil Rights movement, Eyes on the Prize and The Untold Story of Emmett Till are both terrific. Others films on my list would have to include The War Room, Bowling for Columbine, Jesus Camp, The Tines of Harvey Milk, No End in Sight, When We Were Kings, and on the lighter side, Wordplay.

      And has a music lover, my list must include The Last Waltz, Stop Making Sense, Don’t Look Back, Shut Up and Sing, and more recently Living in the Material World, Martin Scorsese’s wonderful film about George Harrison.

      You can purchase tickets for Erasing Hate for the following days…

      - Sunday October 21 at 2 p.m. at AMC Showplace Traders Point 12
      - Tuesday October 23 at 7:30 p.m. at AMC Castleton Square 14
      - Thursday October 25 at 2:45 p.m. at AMC Castleton Square 14
      - Friday October 26 at 1:15 p.m. at AMC Castleton Square 14

      Interview conducted by Austin Lugar

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      HFF Interview: Spaghetti for Two

      “Spaghetti for Two” is one of the short films this year that has a simple story that is told through an inspired grandiose fashion. A man is looking to have lunch with the limited money he has but he keeps being distracted by his imaginative daydreams. German writer/director Matthias Rosenberger talked with us about what it was like to film those sequences and the storytelling perspective he took to make this movie.

      Heartland Film Festival: You’ve created this wonderful film without any dialog. Did you enjoy that challenge of storytelling?

      Matthias: Yes, I did enjoy it. I was inspired by music-videos and musicals – I always wanted the film to become some kind of “symphony” – where of course the music helped a lot!

      Heartland Film Festival: At what stage of production, did you have an idea of the music that will play during the short? Did you ever have it play during filming to guide the actors?

      Matthias: Max Jetzinger, our composer, got our script in the beginning of our preproduction and I asked him to create one song for Finn, the main character and one for one of the daydream. And with these songs in mind we produced the movie. After all, Max did improve and finish his great score frame per frame – but the three “old” main songs still made it in the final cut.

      Heartland Film Festival: The short is filled with imaginative scenes of daydreams Finn has. What was it like capturing those on film, especially the one involving the beautiful girl he has a crush on?

      Matthias: For me as a filmmaker these daydream-scenes were a lot of fun because the shooting was very big, with remote cranes, a huge set and many extras – and with Mia (who is a number one singer from Switzerland) it was nice to shoot these “special” scenes.

      Heartland Film Festival: The character of Finn is on screen for almost the entire short film. What was it like working with that actor, Johannes Silberschneider, to craft that character especially considering so much of the movie relies on him to be sympathetic and endearing?

      Matthias: Johannes Silberschneider is a very professional and also famous actor who normally plays in big feature movies. For our movie he also prepared very well for his role and almost “lived” it during all of our 9 shooting days.

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

      Matthias: Yes, I’m in Australia at the moment to prepare my first feature movie – a big international adventure-film. :)

      Heartland Film Festival: What are some of your favorite movies?

      Matthias: Back to the Future / Almost Famous / The Fifth Element / and lots more!

      You can buy tickets for “Spaghetti for Two” which will play in the short film program “Interesting Individuals” on the following days…

      - Saturday, October 20 at 5:30 p.m. at AMC Showplace Traders Point 12
      - Sunday, October 21 at 2:45 p.m. at AMC Castleton Square 14
      - Monday, October 22 at 12:15 p.m. at AMC Showplace Traders Point 12
      - Friday, October 26 at 3:30 p.m. at AMC Castleton Square 14

      Interview conducted by Austin Lugar

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      HFF Interview: Stories and Legends

      They say it takes a village to raise a child. In this case it takes a school to showcase a city. An instructor at Ball State University has started a project to educate the public about the rich history of Muncie and used its telecommunications program to create a stunning documentary short. “Stories and Legends: Historic Preservation in Muncie, Indiana” was submitted to the Heartland Film Festival and we were able to talk to executive producer Chris Flook and directors Kayla Eiler and Christen Whitney about the origins of this project and how they reexamined a city like Muncie.

      Heartland Film Festival: What is the genesis of the Historical Muncie project?

      Chris Flook: The project was developed as an immersive learning course at Ball State University in order to showcase, highlight, and explore historic preservation generally with specific attention given to Muncie, Indiana.  A great deal of effort has been taken in some of the older neighborhoods in Muncie to redevelop the historic structures.  This is an important aspect of community development, one not unique to Muncie.  I also wanted to provide an opportunity for Ball State Telecommunications students to work under a framework that connected storytelling ability, skill-sets, and community development.

      Heartland Film Festival: Why was it important for you to have a documentary aspect to this project?

      Chris Flook: The documentary is important as because it tells the story about preservation, history, and Muncie into a visual narrative.  In many ways, it also popularizes the idea of historic preservation and the importance of it for the city of Muncie.  We also have extremely talented students in TCOM at Ball State – the two directors of the project – Christen Whitney and Kayla Eiler, and the director of photography, Brian Hollars, all have a tremendous amount of talent.  I wanted to provide them with a powerful framework to produce a much-needed visual story.

      Heartland Film Festival: Your film doesn’t have a traditional narrative as you delve into Muncie’s past. What was your process in approaching this material with this format?

      Christen Whitney: We wanted something fresh. Since we were dealing with a topic that traditionally comes with the stereotype of “boring,” we wanted to do everything in our power to convince viewers that the information we were presenting them was anything but boring.  We started by brainstorming as many small stories about the city as possible.  Stories within a story.  From there we did extensive research on each of this.

      Kayla Eiler: Christen and I spent hours in the Archives and Documents in Bracken, and the archives of Carmichael downtown Muncie looking for newspaper clippings associated with historic homes in the city. So there were a lot of candidates. Unfortunately, documentation on the majority of the homes in the city isn’t great. There’s financial information and record of who owned it and when, but not too many narratives about the history of each home. Most of that information came by word-of-mouth in our interviews with Mike Mavis and Bill Morgan. Mike knows just about every piece of information and gossip about anyone in the history of Muncie. He knows who was married to whom and with whom that person was having an affair! So he really helped us narrow our scope of research.

      Christen Whitney: We interviewed with the intent of uncovering as much information as possible on these selections, and were very fortunate as each story began to develop, and in a sense, take on a mind of its own.  This was the most challenging but most rewarding part of the production. Creating four separate stories within a story and presenting them in an appealing and coherent manor.  At the end of the day, there were many endearing, and alluring stories the city of Muncie had to offer but we had to limit it to these four. Short and sweet, in hopes that what the viewer saw would only inspire them to continue digging deep into the history of Muncie or wherever they call home.

      Kayla Eiler: One house that we wanted to include was actually one of Bill Morgan’s houses. At one point it was a home for delinquent girls. Almost like a detention center. So when Bill took over in the restoration, it was a disaster. The “tenants” had done just about everything in their power to tear the place apart, including starting small fires in the upstairs. Bill has done a tremendous job in restoring the place. I also would have liked to look more into who John C. Eiler is and the apartment that he built in Old West End. Unfortunately, there’s no real story that I could find on him or the complex, but I found it interesting that someone with my last name, so maybe a relative, had some significance in Muncie’s origin.

      Heartland Film Festival: What were some of the interesting things you discovered about Muncie that you couldn’t fit into the documentary? How did these findings change the way you viewed Muncie?

      Kayla Eiler: I think I speak on behalf of everyone in the project when I say that in the beginning, we all thought the project would be pretty boring. We were all in the mindset of “What could be worse than studying Muncie? Oh… studying the history of Muncie!” But as Christen and I started to talk to the preservationists, Bill, Mike, and James Connolly, we saw a whole new side to the story. There is a rich history here that has been forgotten or else overlooked by the thousands of college students that fly through every 4 years. This project changed our view on this city forever. We both couldn’t wait to get out and experience the “real world.” But the truth is, this is the real world. This city is Middletown, America. It’s the poster-child for what happens to the Midwest whenever the economy rises and falls. So many college kids can’t wait to get out of here once they’re financial able, and that is why it’s seeing so much decline. It’s going to take a younger generation who cares about Muncie and wants to see it come back to what it was during the turn of the century, to stick around and do the work to bring it back.

      Heartland Film Festival: What is next for all of you and Historical Muncie?

      Chris Flook: Historical Muncie is currently in its second and final phase.  Additional photos are being taken to complete the city inventory of historic places.  In addition, four new documentaries are being produced to highlight different aspects of preservation and also to look at other neighborhoods not in the first phase of the project.  We are hoping to expand the project outside of Muncie to other Indiana communities.  Indiana has a great deal of terrific small and medium sized towns – many with historic neighborhoods.  I think it is important for the residents here to see the architectural beauty of the state and understand the historical importance of these structures.

      Kayla Eiler: Right now, I’m working on the second installment of the Historic Muncie Project. This year, we’re doing 3 broadcast-length documentaries, one on the Minnetrista district, one on the Emily Kimbrough district, and one on Old West End — which I’m doing. I’m a first year grad student in TCOM’s Digital Storytelling master’s program and my graduate assistantship is working as the project director for this year’s Historic Muncie project.  I’m also working on the final installment of the Visit Indiana project through the BBC, making tourism advertisements for counties in the state. And I’m looking forward to starting work on my creative project (thesis) for grad school, but I cannot disclose any further details about that project ;) You’ll just have to wait and see!

      Christen Whitney: I am currently not working on Historic Muncie part II as my schedule did not allow this semester.  However, if the project continues with such a positive response into the spring semester I hope to be involved, as it was the greatest project I have had an opportunity to be a part of here at Ball State.

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

      Christen Whitney: I have been inspired by films that produce the “cold chill factor.” In other words films with depth and meaning that analyze issues of society and appeal greatly to the viewer’s emotions.  I really like films dealing with the issue of racism and injustice in general. Putting a spotlight up to injustice is the greatest way to provoke change. To name a few, A Time to Kill, Remember the Titans, Crash.  I also love The Dark Knight for its deep symbolism, thought provoking presentation of right vs wrong and overall drama.  I have been inspired by there films to enhance every piece of work that I do with the utmost DEPTH and DRAMA.  These two elements appeal to me as a creator as well as to an audience.  I want my heart to be fully in whatever I am creating.

      Kayla Eiler: Movies that have inspired me… Lord of the Rings. The storytelling is flawless (except for the whole “why couldn’t they just fly eagles all the way to Mordor in the beginning?” thing). But I think the whole story inspires me because it’s about two little guys starting out in a small, somewhat irrelevant town in the middle of nowhere, who have the courage and heart to overcome impossible obstacles, and make a huge difference in a world that’s much bigger than they are. Sometimes, I feel like I come from the middle of nowhere and don’t stand much of a chance in this huge industry. That’s why it’s so inspiring and so humbling to have my film accepted to a film festival. The girl I was 5 years ago would never have thought she had enough determination and heart to make it this far.

      You can purchase tickets for “Stories and Legends: Historic Preservation in Muncie, Indiana” which will play with the shorts program “Cities” for the following days

      - Saturday, October 20 at 7:30 p.m. at AMC Showplace Traders Point 12
      - Wednesday, October 24 at 7:15 p.m. at AMC Castleton Square 14
      - Thursday, October 25 at 7 p.m. at AMC Castleton Square 14
      - Saturday, October 27 at 2 p.m. at AMC Showplace Traders Point 12

      Interview conducted by Austin Lugar

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      Heartland Film Festival to Honor Veterans at Opening Night Event

      Heartland Truly Moving Pictures is proud to be showing the documentary High Ground to kick off the 21st Annual Heartland Film Festival. Filmmakers Michael Brown and Don Hahn are scheduled to be in attendance as well as one of the film’s featured Veterans, Staff Sergeant Cody Miranda of the Marine Corps. The event is at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, October 18, at the Indianapolis Museum of Art.

      High Ground is the story of 11 veterans of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan who join an expedition to climb the 20,000-foot Himalayan giant Mount Lobuche. With blind adventurer Erik Weihenmayer and a team of Everest summiteers as their guides, they set out on an emotional and gripping climb to reach the top in an attempt to heal the emotional and physical wounds of the longest war in U.S. history.

      “We are pleased to open our Festival this year with a film that honors our military heroes,” says Louise Henderson, Vice President, Operations of Heartland Truly Moving Pictures. “This is the first year Heartland has selected a documentary for its Opening Night and this Don Hahn-produced film is more than up to the occasion. Dramatic, beautiful, compelling and fascinating, High Ground makes Heartland’s Opening Night an event not to be missed.”

      High Ground allows veterans to tell their stories in their own way and in their own words. It is an honest narrative that reveals the emotional and mental scars sustained by the soldiers who have survived the horrors of war. The mountain itself is a metaphor for one of the basic concepts of military action – the high ground is the safest, most defensible place with the greatest perspective. The film chronicles an expedition organized by Soldiers to Summits, bringing together disabled war veterans with world-recognized mountain climbers to demonstrate what could be achieved by climbing a Himalayan giant.

      Director Michael Brown has summited Mount Everest five times. A three-time Emmy® award-winning filmmaker, Michael has made over fifty expeditions to all seven continents, all with cameras rolling. He has made a habit of going to the world’s harshest, most dangerous environments—the South Pole, the North Face of the Eiger, and 1,500 feet underground in Choreadoro cave—and always with footage and stories.

      Don Hahn produced The Lion King and the classic Beauty and the Beast, the first animated film to be nominated for a Best Picture Oscar®. Hahn also served as associate producer of Who Framed Roger Rabbit?. His other credits include The Hunchback of Notre Dame, the Disneynature films Earth, Oceans and African Cats and the Oscar®-nominated animated short “The Little Matchgirl.” He is currently executive producer of Tim Burtonʼs stop-motion animated film Frankenweenie, which opened this month.

      This will not be Don’s first film at the Heartland Film Festival. His documentary Waking Sleeping Beauty received the Truly Moving Picture Award and was a special presentation at the 2009 Festival, and another documentary feature, Hand Held, was featured at the 2010 Festival.

      Michael, Don and Staff Sergeant Miranda are all scheduled to be at the Opening Night Event to discuss the movie and what it meant for all of the Veterans who made this awe-inspiring climb.

      Heartland Supports Local Veterans Group
      This year the Heartland Film Festival is giving back to the community through its inaugural $2BACK Ticket Program. When a participating nonprofit, community group or religious institution uses a unique promotional code to buy Festival event and screening tickets online, $2 of every ticket sold is donated back to that respective organization.

      Heartland provides marketing collateral for each organization to promote the program, including information on Festival films that closely align with the missions and causes of each group. The $2BACK Ticket Program invites more members of the community to play a living part in Heartland’s mission to inspire filmmakers and audiences through the transformative power of film.

      One of the community groups participating in the program is Hoosier Veterans Assistance Foundation (HVAF) of Indiana. HVAF of Indiana provides transitional housing and basic needs to veterans and families. Their mission is to eliminate homelessness among veterans and their families through education, prevention, supportive services and advocacy.

      Every Heartland Film Festival ticket sold online using promotional code “HVAF”, including tickets to the Opening Night Event, will result in a $2 donation to the organization.

      Event group ticket discounts are available to armed forces and Veterans groups. Interested groups may call the Heartland Truly Moving Pictures office at (317) 464-9405. General admission tickets are $35 and can be purchased at this link, or by calling 1-800-HFF-1010.

      The Opening Night Event is sponsored by OneAmerica and Aronstam Fine Jewelers.

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      Heartland Film Festival Fills TBA Slot with World Premiere

      Writer/Director Jason Jeffrey

      Every year Heartland holds back several “To Be Announced” slots in the official schedule, hoping that the perfect film comes along and needs a place to screen. We are excited to announce that Jason Jeffrey’s Your Side of the Bed is one of those films this year! And, making the screening even more special, this will be the film’s World Premiere, and the director is scheduled to attend.

      Recently named an Avrich Award Recipient by the Toronto International Film Festival, Jason Jeffrey is scheduled to attend the Festival in support of his World Premiere. Your Side of the Bed will screen once, on Friday October 26, at 6:30 pm at AMC Showplace Traders Point 12.

      Your Side of the Bed tells the touching and occasionally painful story of Dan, who has lost his wife in a car accident. Subtly and convincingly played by Matt Gordon (“Rookie Blue”), Dan spirals into a self-inflicted depression. When his brother Johnny (Luke Gordon) unexpectedly shows up to “save him,” Dan isn’t sure how to react. With time it becomes apparent that there are deep wounds on both sides, and the brothers are both forced to wrestle with issues of family, loss and recovery. A quietly and powerfully told story, Your Side of the Bed manages to uncover truths about the human condition while remaining decidedly hopeful.

      Listen to the IU Cinema Podcast interview with Jason Jeffrey about his film’s world premiere at the Heartland Film Festival.

      Join us for the special World Premiere of Your Side of the Bed! You can purchase tickets and find more information about the film here.

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      HFF Interview: Death

      One of our narrative films this year comes from the creative mind of writer/director Martin Gooch. Working in the United Kingdom, he used science-fiction, comedy and heartfelt drama to tell the story of a family trying to adjust to their father’s death. The film is entitled Death and is definitely one that you wouldn’t want to miss.

      Heartland Film Festival: The film opens with a wonderful whimsical dialog between two characters lying on the grass looking up in the sky. Then the next scene is the cold reality of returning to this house the characters have left. Why did you want to have the film open in this way?

      Martin: When I was a little boy my dad would actually take my brother and I out to the top of a hill and we would do this – My dad called it Skyfalling. It works best on the top of a hill – where everything is below you – and several times I did actually feel myself ‘fall’ off the planet.

      I’ve been making films for a long time – as a cameraman and short filmmaker and I wanted my debut feature film to be a movie that only I could make. Yes I could have done a zombie movie, or an east end gangster movie or a slasher horror – but EVERYONE is doing those – so I thought long and hard and just felt no one was doing mystery and absolutely no one was doing mysterious comedy sci-fi drama – so I thought ‘I’ll have that and do a Martin Gooch Film’ and putting these things in from my own life make my film unique. Whether you like it or not – I’m pretty certain there isn’t another film like it!

      I have to admit and also tell you that this scene was not the original beginning of the movie – I wrote two others – both of which we filmed, and neither quite worked. One I cut and the other disappeared into the innards of the movie, and as a result – the ‘skyfalling’ scene became the opening scene.

      I also think the opening shot of any movie is very important and this shot shows Eloise and Tom – the two key characters in the movie – together having fun, in what I hope is a cinematic and beautiful shot.

      Heartland Film Festival: As the film goes on it goes from hints about there being a fantastical nature to a completely science-fiction story. What was it like structuring the film in this way, never letting the audience in on all of the secrets right away?

      Martin: I’ve written quite a few screenplays now and even did a Masters Degree in screenwriting. So I have quite a bit of experience in structure – if you break this movie down you will find it hits almost all the structure beats – it’s a 90 minutes long if you cut off the pre-movie and the title sequence. The first act is slightly long and ends when they enter dad’s lab  – like many films they go from one place to another place at the act 1/act2 cross over – In Raiders of the Lost Ark, Indiana Jones, gets on a plane and head to Tibet, and in Star Wars Han Solo flies off in the Millennium Falcon, leaving some storm troopers looking for different droids.

      Then the mid point of Death at page 50 is the arrival of Grandad – taking the film into an even further real of fantasy – and the lowest point end of Act2 is after the Bitch Fight between Eloise and Donna (with two ‘n’s).  So in terms of pure structure it hits the beats – but like all good films, you need to ‘keep ‘em guessing’, so I tried to put in lots of hints that something was going on – and even a few red- herrings – like time travel.

      I also wanted to muck about with genre – if you turn off this film before they get into Dad’s Lab – then really you have been watching a family drama – then it goes to mystery and Sci-fi – and there is comedy throughout. I believe many of the best movies are cross or double genres, and I’m mucking about with quadruple genres…

      Heartland Film Festival: You were able to tell a film with a lot of really clever ideas in an independent film without needing really expensive CGI. Did you ever feel limited by your budget or was it able to inspire you to try things in a new way?

      Martin: Budget is the biggest pain of any filmmaker – even those people with $200M would like a bit more. But the old saying is true – creativity is born of frustration – and not being able to do certain things meant I had to think of other ways around it.

      Heartland Film Festival: Now onto the really important stuff. You have your characters talk about it briefly, but what do you think of the current Doctor Who?

      Martin: I think Doctor Who has really hit its stride now. It’s always had its ups and down, and there have been assistants who I wasn’t keen on watching.  Now we have an excellent Doctor, a reasonable budget and great writers. It has the feeling that it will never go away, and just run and run and surely with all of time and space at the writers’ fingertips – they have no excuse for ever running out of ideas.

      In terms of British Science Fiction, then it would be impossible (and churlish) to talk about it without mentioning the Good Doctor. And I for one, would absolutely love to direct it.

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

      Martin: As I write this reply I am sitting on a balcony in a hotel in Denmark, as tomorrow I sail off to a tiny island to continue shooting my next movie The Search for Simon, which is quite different to Death. I’ve also written the screenplay for DEATHTRAP DUNGEON which is based on the multi million selling Fighting Fantasy Gamebook by Ian Livingstone, and we are trying to get that going – it’s like Lord of the Rings meets Tomb Raider.

      There are always many projects and I am keen to get involved with and create as many as I can!

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

      Martin: As a kid we went to the cinema very occasionally – but the films I saw were hugely influential – Dragonslayer, James Bond – For Your Eyes Only, and then Brazil, Alien, Blade Runner, as well as films like Excalibur – which have dated slightly, but at the time there was nothing better than knights bashing hell out of each other in full plate mail armour.

      I have always preferred slightly (or completely) escapist movies, and don’t work well with depressing films – as I’m too much of an empath and depressing films depress me for days or even weeks, so it’s better for everyone if I watch a comedy – like Planes Trains and Automobiles, or Monty Python and the Holy Grail, or even Young Frankenstein.

      You can purchase tickets for Death for the following days…

      - Monday October 22 at 6:30 p.m. at AMC Showplace Traders Point 12
      - Tuesday October 23 at 7:15 p.m. at AMC Showplace Traders Point 12

      - Wednesday October 24 at 4:45 p.m. at AMC Castleton Square 14

      - Friday October 26 at 4 p.m. at AMC Castleton Square 14

      Interview conducted by Austin Lugar

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      HFF Interview: Dva

      One of our festival award winning short films, “Dva”, is the tense story about two soldiers on opposite sides of the Croatian War stuck in one place against the elements and each other. This position tests them in unimaginable ways as they struggle to survive. We had a chance to interview writer/director Mickey Nedimovic about this incredible short film.

      There are elements of the ending talked about, but there are never any specifics so this interview is SPOILER-FREE.

      Heartland Film Festival: In many ways, your short film could be a play since it’s primarily just two actors in one location. However that location plays such a massive part in the story, it couldn’t be recreated on a stage. What was it like filming in that spot and how long did you film there?

      Mickey: We shot the film in 6 ½ days. Working in that setting was beautiful, honest and occasionally very tough. Although it was summer, we were faced with harsh weather conditions. For instance, the winds were so cold that we were forced to wear winter clothing while the sun burned down on our heads. These were conditions that I, being used to urban life, was unprepared for. At the same time, though, the setting’s beauty, the air, the wind – our environment inspired not only me, but the entire team and provided us with so much energy that we were able to confront these natural forces. That experience was very liberating.

      Heartland Film Festival: Without giving anything away, both characters go through a transformation but by the end they aren’t hugging and calling each other best friends. How conscious were you of how far these characters could move forward while making it believable?

      Mickey: I have to admit: In the beginning, my intention was in fact to end to film with both characters hugging and having developed a closer relation. But the more I researched and worked on the script, the more I realized how naïve my intention was. I began to recognize that the root of their hatred has a decade-old history, and that three days would ultimately not provide enough time for them to reconciliate. This made me sad, but now, looking back, telling their story differently would seem an illusion, if not a lie. To me, the current plot became the only truthful way to narrate their encounter.

      Heartland Film Festival: There is so much tension in this short film due to the high stakes at hand. However the characters and the film goes through a lengthy amount of time. How were you able to maintain that suspense?

      Mickey: Principally, it was the extensive preparation, research and work with the actors that made me feel well prepared. I was fully convinced of the story I wanted to tell and had the courage to take my time to develop each scene. Shooting the film chronologically also helped narrating the plot. And last, but not least, there was nature’s contribution to our work.

      Heartland Film Festival: This was your second short film as a writer/director. What lessons did you learn this time being behind the camera?

      Mickey: I learned to work together with a much bigger team and incorporate ideas that the actors develop whenever I sense that they strengthen the plot. I learned to open a scene without technically complicated crane shots, for example. I learned to be more focused. But above all, I learned to let go.

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

      Mickey: I’m working on two ideas. One is a project on war journalism (working title: White World) that I’ve been pursuing for eleven years and which inspired me to develop the plot for Dva/Two, although both have nothing in common. The other idea I am developing revolves around bank robbers (working title: Of Lions and Hyenas).

      Heartland Film Festival: What are some moving films that influenced you as a filmmaker?

      Mickey: I feel inspired by many films, but films that greatly influenced me are Great Expectations by Alfonso Cuarón and Gattaca by Andrew Niccol. I feel personally addressed by both films, as though they were made for me. I think that hope and believing in dreams is very important to me.

      You can purchase tickets for “Dva” which will play in the program” Festival Awards Shorts 2” for the following days…

      - Friday October 19 at 3:15 p.m. and 7:15 p.m. at AMC Castleton Square 14
      - Saturday October 20 at 1:30 p.m. at AMC Castleton Square 14
      - Tuesday October 23 at 8 p.m. at AMC Castleton Square 14
      - Wednesday October 24 at 12:30 p.m. at AMC Showplace Traders Point 12
      - Thursday October 25 at 11:45 a.m. at AMC Showplace Traders Point 12
      - Friday October 26 at 11:30 a.m. at AMC Showplace Traders Point 12
      - Saturday October 27 at 1:45 p.m. at AMC Castleton Square 14.

      Interview conducted by Austin Lugar

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