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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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HFF Interview: Buzkashi Boys

As with all of our Festival Award-winning short films, “Buzkashi Boys” ends and all you want to say is “wow.” The film captures a culture rarely seen as two young boys have dreams of athletic stardom in Afghanistan. Their world feels so rich and fascinating because it’s showing us a side to a country we only know about from the news. We were able to talk with writer/director Sam French about his short film and what drew him to film in Kabul.

Heartland Film Festival: You are a filmmaker who grew up in Philadelphia and is now making stories set in Afghanistan. What was that transition like and what is it about this country that makes it such a ripe place for stories?

Sam: I initially moved to Afghanistan for love – to follow my girlfriend, who had been posted to the British Embassy in Kabul. Like most Americans, I had a very different view of the city I found upon arrival. Expecting to be hunkered down in a bunker, I was instead warmly welcomed by the Afghans I met, and encountered a city rich with stories the news ignored in favor of sensationalist coverage of the war. Afghanistan has a rich history of storytelling, and sits at the nexus of many different cultures. It is a Central Asian country, strategically located on the old silk route, and has experienced the ebb and flow of trade and geopolitics throughout its history.

What we see on the news is bombs, bullets, and burkas – and these are indeed important stories to tell, but I was interested in pulling back the veil and finding stories that revealed another side of the country. The important thing for me is to try in a small way to show what I have found in my journeys – that whether you are from Philadelphia or Kabul, you share the same hopes and dreams for a better future, and in the end, we are not all that different after all.

Heartland Film Festival: How did the community in Kabul respond to you filming a movie in their city?

Sam: We were warmly welcomed by the communities in Kabul in which we filmed. We were fortunate to have the support of the Afghan government and Turquoise Mountain, an NGO which supports the teaching of traditional arts and crafts – and is restoring the old city of Murad Khane where we filmed a lot of the movie. Contrary to what I expected, I found a hunger here to tell real Afghan stories, and a desire to change the perception of this country as a terrorist haven. Once we explained what we were trying to do, we were overwhelmed by the hospitality of the people of Kabul.

Heartland Film Festival: Working with younger actors is always a bit of a gamble and your short film relies almost entirely on the performances of Fawad Mohammadi and Jawanmard Paiz. They were excellent in this movie. I was wondering what was it like filming with these first time actors. How did you make them act so naturalistic on film? What have they thought of the film?

Sam: You know what they say: never work with children or animals. We did both, in Afghanistan. It was a gamble, but I wanted to tell a coming of age story, because we can all relate to it – the leap to adulthood is universal across cultures. Sure, the dream of being Buzkashi riders is perhaps unique to Afghanistan, but the desire to forge your own future connects with audiences.

We spent a lot of time in rehearsal before filming. Fawad, our main actor, is actually a street-kid, who supports his mother by selling maps to Westerners in the market. He had never acted before, which was actually a bonus in my mind. He didn’t have any bad habits. Jawanmard, our other star, had acted before because his father is a filmmaker, so he helped Fawad with the technical aspects. The challenge was to first make them become friends in real life, and second to connect their lives with the characters they were playing – ground the story in their own struggles so they weren’t playing roles, but expressing their own feelings.

Heartland Film Festival: When a lot of stories deal with hope and being able to change your life, it becomes like a fairy tale. Your story is firmly set in reality. How important was that for you to tell the story in this fashion?

Sam: I played with a lot of different endings, but kept coming back to the reality of the situation here in Afghanistan. The fact is, it is an incredibly poor country, and it is extremely difficult to make a better future for yourself or your family. I wanted to reflect this reality, but I also wanted to show a small step towards adulthood – and that even if we are forced to let go of childish fantasies, the future can be shaped if we have the will to do so. It was a delicate balance, and I’m not sure if I entirely succeeded, but I’ll let the audience be the judge.

Heartland Film Festival: Are you planning to make another film in Afghanistan?

Sam: I run a company in Afghanistan called Development Pictures, that produces documentaries here for aid organizations and the news. We have a few projects at the moment – one about women who have been imprisoned for “moral crimes”, one about Mes Aynak, an ancient Buddhist archeological site near Kabul, and Afghanistan at Work, portraits of everyday Afghans who live and work here. Check out www.developmentpictures.com to see some of our previous work.

Beyond these projects, I’m currently writing another narrative film set in Afghanistan that will tackle issues more related to the war, religion, and love. Stay tuned!

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

Sam: As a filmmaker, I’m influenced mainly by Hollywood films – Fight Club, The Matrix, The English Patient – and so the interesting journey I’ve taken has been to open myself up to another way to tell stories. “Buzkashi Boys” has Hollywood elements, both in the story structure and the cinematography, but at its heart it is an Afghan tale, shaped by the experiences I’ve had and the people I’ve met here. In some ways it is more European as a result – grounded in the texture of the locations in which we filmed and portraying our characters in as realistic a way as possible. I’ve definitely evolved as a filmmaker in the process.

You can purchase tickets for “Buzkashi Boys” which will play in the program “Festival 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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HFF Interview: Free Samples

Free Samples is easily one of the funniest films playing in this year’s festival. It’s the story of Jillian, who is stuck performing a thankless humiliating job while running into some of the weirdos of Los Angeles and avoiding what’s really bothering her. We were able to talk to the director of this great film, Jay Gammill to figure out what it was like filming with the ice cream truck and what makes Jillian tick.

Heartland Film Festival: So much of the story comes from vignette humor as different customers visit Jillian in the ice cream truck. As the director how were you able to keep those segments fresh and full of variety?

Jay: I think there’s something funny just in the fact that Jillian, played by Jess Weixler, is trapped in a dilapidated ice cream truck in a deserted parking lot of Los Angeles. And beyond that, the oddballs that come up to the truck add another ridiculous layer, and I owe all of that to Jim Beggarly’s screenplay. And then we were very fortunate to get a great group of actors to play the supporting roles, each with their own sort of take on the interactions they have with Jillian. And you know, when I have someone like Matt Walsh, who is a great improviser, coming in to play a customer, I was eager to let him loose on the scene and see what would happen. Director of Photography Reed Morano and I were always thinking up new ways to shoot each scene to keep it fresh, so it became a wonderful collaboration to make each vignette work and have it fit in into the larger story.

Heartland Film Festival: Majority of the movie is Jillian and the truck. With just one main character and one main location (with a few different places she visits) did that make this an easier movie to shoot for your first feature film?

Jay: Having one main location did make it easier in terms of a few of the logistics of shooting, but creatively, it presented a great challenge of how I’m going to keep it fresh visually. But even in scouting this parking lot that the we used for the film, I was looking at areas in and around it that could become mini-locations within the space. So the back of the parking lot, where we shot the scene with Tex (Jesse Eisenberg) or the lawn just out to the side where Jillian and Betty (Tippi Hedren) sit—those were nice breaks from the scenes that by necessity took place at the Mike’s Dream truck’s counter window. But even then, Reed Morano and I were conscious of this challenge and we were constantly changing up how we shot from scene to scene.

Heartland Film Festival: This is a very funny film as you see Jillian react to her various annoyances throughout the day. Yet the movie hits upon something very truthful and serious about her situation. How were you able to examine that while keeping the movie humorous?

Jay: I think underneath Jillian’s character lies a quiet sadness. We were always looking for ways to tap in to that in the midst of the annoyances. I relate to Jillian’s struggle with trying so hard to make her career and relationships work and then discovering life still goes on when things don’t turn out as planned. I think much the comedy comes from her anger and earnestness in dealing with the customers and their inane questions, although I do also like the playfulness she has with Wally, played by Jason Ritter. That was fun to shoot, and I liked seeing that different side of Jillian.

Heartland Film Festival: The film could be structured where these strangers can help Jillian learn about her life, but a lot of the humor plays upon her stubbornness in learning anything. What was it about Tippi Hedren’s character of Betty that broke the mold for Jillian?

Jay: I think Jillian sees a bit of herself in Betty, and Betty has a fair dose of cynicism of her own, to be sure. What I’ve always found most interesting about Betty is that while she feels finished with her life, she has, throughout it, taken many risks in her relationships and never afraid to start over. She can speak to Jillian in a way that softens Jillian’s demeanor and also offers a more long-term perspective on her quarter-life crisis.

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

Jay: I’m working on a few new projects, and Jim Beggarly and I have been looking to reunite on another film too. That would be a lot of fun.

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

Jay: My favorite film is Ordinary People. If you haven’t seen it, you must. I will leave you with that.

You can purchase tickets for Free Samples for the following days…

- Saturday October 20 at 6 p.m. at AMC Castleton Square 14
- Thursday October 25 at 8:45 p.m. at AMC Castleton Square 14
- Friday October 26 at 9 p.m. at AMC Showplace Traders Point 12
- Saturday October 27 at 9:15 p.m. at AMC Castleton Square 14

Interview conducted by Austin Lugar

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HFF Interview: Kipp Normand

Kipp Normand is a local legend around Indianapolis. He is a quaint man who creates wonderful pieces of art from objects that were thrown away or disguarded. Filmmaker Jonathan Frey created a personal short film about this artist, entitled “Kipp Normand” and it is one of the Festival Award-winning short films. We talked with Jonathan about his relationship with Kipp and the art that really speaks to him.

Heartland Film Festival: When did you first hear about Kipp and what was it like meeting him for the first time?

Jonathan: I actually met him photographing a wedding.  Once we started with the pictures he told me he wanted two specific portraits.  One of him facing the camera and one of his profile.  I had no option but to oblige since I was completely enthralled with his glasses and beard.  He was intimidating, friendly, and mysterious all wrapped in one.

Heartland Film Festival: What is it about Kipp’s art that draws attention from people? Is it the tools he uses or is it something more than that?

Jonathan: His work represents who he is. Kipp himself draws attention; the way he dresses, the way he speaks, the way he carries himself.  It’s as if he’s from another era of time. He’s fascinating and you expect him to have just as fascinating stories.

His work is just the same.  It’s a bit clandestine. The pieces showcased are somewhat unfamiliar since they are made up of found objects(typically antique like). The individual objects come together to form a story of another time era.  And, we from the present, want to learn more about the unfamiliarity.

Heartland Film Festival: Was it difficult to have Kipp talk about his art or was he willing to share from Day One?

Jonathan: Kipp and I each of have an appreciation for one another’s work.  We sort of did an exchange; in exchange for exploring his world and he would be the subject of mine.

Kipp has an exuberant amount of stories and good perspectives on life and art to share. As a result, the most difficult thing to do was keeping him on subject during the interview.

Heartland Film Festival: When you have a great subject in a documentary, all you have to do is let them go and most of the work is taken care of for you. I still can’t articulate it, but watching Kipp make a cup of tea was utterly fascinating to me. What was it about that moment that made its way into the film?

Jonathan: This is a moment in which Kipp didn’t know he was being recorded.  Moments like these show how Kipp is just as real as he’s portrayed throughout the rest of the film.  Because he has this aura of mystery, any glimpse into his life is like a secret told to us personally by him.

Heartland Film Festival: Are you working on a new project? Can you say anything on what it’s about?

Jonathan: I am.  I’m really excited for it.  I’m writing a feature length narrative about a girl.  And since I typically write about things I wish my life reflected or things I wrestle with, this girl embodies many of my perspectives on life.  Besides that, there’s not much else I can share about it.

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

Jonathan: The pieces of art or music that I connect with the most usually fall into the period of Romanticism. The works carry with them a longing for something better but this longing or hope is never realized, never comes to fruition, or has no resolution.  The pieces to me are beautiful and full of emotion – they’re striking. Films that wrestle with hard issues or experiences (that don’t necessarily end well) show that life is never simple or easy or what we expect it to be.  These are the kinds of films I like.

For me it’s less about films inspiring me as much as it is a recognition of what I already like.  My hope (ironically) is to one day add to that category of art and filmmaking.

You can purchase tickets for “Kipp Normand” which will play in the program block “Festival Award Shorts 1” for the following days…

- Friday, October 19 at 10:45 a.m. and 4:15 p.m. at AMC Castleton Square 14
- Saturday, October 20 at 12:30 p.m. at AMC Showplace Traders Point 12
- Sunday, October 21 at 7:00 p.m. at AMC Showplace Traders Point 12
- Monday, October 22 at 4:30 p.m. at AMC Castleton Square 14
- Tuesday, October 23 at 2:00 p.m. at AMC Showplace Traders Point 12
- Friday, October 26 at 11:30 a.m. at AMC Castleton Square 14
- Saturday, October 27 at 11:00 a.m. at AMC Showplace Traders Point 12

    Interview conducted by Austin Lugar

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    HFF Interview: Ali 707

    One of the shorts in our “Interesting Individuals” program follows a man named Ali who is trapped in an Australian refugee prison. He keeps himself fit by endlessly running. “Ali 707” is a very charming short film about the strength of the human spirit and we were able to talk with writer/director Hannah Moore about being a first time director and what it was like to film such a physically demanding short.

    Heartland Film Festival: Despite Ali being confined during the short, you still make use the stunning Australian landscape. What is it like filming with these surroundings?

    Hannah: As a kid I spent time camping in the South Australian outback, and it’s a landscape I love. It’s beautiful especially at sunrise and sunset, but during the day it’s unrelentingly hot. The heat is dry and the sun burns. The extras spend most of their time inside but the crew were exposed for three full days. We had people running waters and fruit, which was wonderful, and we had to construct a shade for the camera because it started to get hot.

    Late one night we were filming the scene of Ali in his room and we had to take a break to watch an incredibly lightening storm in the distance, it was like contained fireworks.

    It’s an extreme place, with the heat, and then the cold at night, rainstorms. It’s unforgiving, and was therefore a perfect setting.

    Heartland Film Festival: This was your first time as a writer/director. What had you learned on other film sets that prepared you for this short?

    Hannah: I’ve worked mostly as an actor, so I was prepared for long days. But there was a lot less sitting around as a director. Things move so quickly, so finally I understood why things run overtime.

    I was really excited to direct actors. Having been directed a number of different ways, I wanted the actors to feel comfortable and for them to clearly understand what we were going for.

    Heartland Film Festival: You have the actor playing Ali, Baqir Rezai, running for majority of the short film. How long were you able to shoot with him exerting such physical energy?

    Hannah: I feel a sudden surge of guilt! Baqir is a great friend of mine. He is a Hazara Afghan who came to Australia by himself as a 16-year-old refugee. He’s strong in many ways.  I said to him early on, ‘you’re going to have to run a lot. So get training.’ He’s a naturally athletic guy. He would smile at me and say ‘Yes.’ But what he meant was ‘Maybe I will, maybe I won’t. But I’ll do it on the day.’ And he did. He never complained and I did keep checking in to see that he was okay. We broke up the running scenes as much as we could. I guess the blocks were about an hour with breaks in between takes.

    He exerted a lot of energy, but that’s what we needed. It was only when we were shooting the final shot of the final (fifth) day that we needed him to run full pelt that he got a sore knee. But it was really awful, I had to say ‘Is there any chance you do another one?’ because we had ten seconds left on the only card available and daylight was fading. You saw the film, so you know he ran that extra mile!

    Heartland Film Festival: Now it’s difficult to talk about your film without talking about the ending—

    Hannah: Oops. Just did.

    Heartland Film Festival: Ha. I think we’re still being vague enough. Given what happens are we to assume that perhaps Ali was less than honest about some of the information he gives earlier in the short?

    I like to think that Ali did what Ali needed to do, to survive. Honesty may have taken a back seat in proceedings, but he didn’t hurt anyone. The only person he was dishonest to understood it in the end.

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

    Hannah: Yes. I’m writing a feature at the moment, loosely based on a job I once had as a touring performer.

    And then I have a trilogy of shorts to get started on.

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

    Hannah: I watched Muriel’s Wedding again recently (an Australian classic) and I was just so emotional throughout it, but it was cathartic. There was release. I’d like to see more characters like Muriel.

    The films of Susanna Bier (Brothers, After the Wedding) depict such emotional turmoil and conflict. When I watched Brothers (the Danish version) I just wept in the cinema until the whole row was shaking. I’d like to take people to that place, where they can feel so deeply but be so safe in the cinema.  I like a lot of foreign films, they’ll go to those dark places where things are really interesting.

    You can purchase tickets for “Ali 707”, which will play with the “Interesting Individuals” shorts program, for 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: 3 Days of Normal

    Many people just need a break, a few days to cool off and readjust your life. That’s what actress Nikki Gold realized on the brink of a career scandal so she stays in a small New Hampshire town longer than she expected in 3 Days of Normal. This film is one of our most delightful narratives we’re playing this year and we’re thrilled we were able to talk with director Ishai Setton about creating the right tone for this type of romantic comedy and how it’s possible to make a town a character in the film.

    Heartland Film Festival: On paper, this seems like it is a raunchy comedy. A Hollywood starlet gets drunk and ends up in a small town while avoiding a sex tape scandal. Yet the tone is a delightful and warm movie that all ages can enjoy. Was this always something you wanted to achieve?

    Ishai: Yes. It’s actually what first attracted me to the project. After I read the script, I thought that it had been a really long time since I’d seen a film that was so sweet and simple. I love classic Hollywood romantic comedies and I got the feeling after reading this that it almost could have been made 50 years ago. I wanted to try to capture that mood and timelessness and yes, make a film that anyone can enjoy.

    Heartland Film Festival: It’s always a challenge of how unlikable can you make your romantic lead. You have to show his pain but you also want the audience to be interested in him and his pursuits. How did you create the right balance?

    Ishai: I think that was a challenge for both of our characters. But I was most concerned about our lead actress – Nikki (Mircea Monroe). She plays a successful Hollywood actress – who I thought would very difficult to sympathize with – she’s famous, she has money but she also has a lot of problems. I felt as long as we tried to get to the fact that deep down she’s a good person, if not a little lost, that you would get on her side. For me, it was about hitting emotional truths in their characters. The more real and human and flawed that they both feel, the more I think an audience can get behind them and root for them to get together.

    Heartland Film Festival: The town is as much of a character as anyone else. What care was taken to form this New Hampshire small town?

    Ishai: A lot, actually. As soon as we visited the town, we knew that this is where we needed to set the film. The first draft of the script actually took place in a fictitious town in a fictitious county – but yes, immediately after visiting Washington, we decided that the film had to take place there. We had a meeting with the town’s selectman (who is also the town’s postman) and got permission to use the town’s actual name in the film. We also cast a lot of locals and tried to really paint a realistic portrait of this idyllic life in small town New Hampshire.

    Heartland Film Festival: Your lead actor, Jace Mclean, is also the co-writer of the film. Did that make it easier or more difficult to direct him since he has been in these characters’ heads for so long?

    Ishai: Jace McLean is incredibly difficult. Okay, not really. It was a great experience – because he had such a vivid and thorough understanding of his character. At the end of the day, Jace knew Bill best and remained very true to that character throughout the process.

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

    Ishai: I actually made a film just after this one called, The Kitchen, and stars Laura Prepon and Bryan Greenberg. Otherwise, I’m working as an editor and trying to write the next film.

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

    Ishai: The films that inspired me to make this film are those classic Hollywood romantic comedies, like An Affair to Remember and The Philadelphia Story. But in terms of other “moving” films – I think pretty much all of my favorites are made by Pixar. And I just rewatched The Wizard of Oz. I mean it doesn’t get much more inspiring and moving than that.

    You can purchase tickets for 3 Days of Normal for the following days…

    - Saturday October 20 at 9:15 p.m. at AMC Castleton Square 14
    - Monday October 22 at 8:45 p.m. at AMC Showplace Traders Point 12

    - Friday October 26 at 1:45 p.m. at AMC Showplace Traders Point 12
    - Saturday October 27 at 1:30 p.m. at AMC Castleton Square 14

    Interview conducted by Austin Lugar

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    First Friday to Offer Festival Sneak Peek!

    Join us Friday, October 5 at 6 p.m. at the Heartland Truly Moving Pictures office in Fountain Square for First Friday!

    We’ll be showing a bunch of trailers for upcoming Heartland Film Festival films! We’ll be showing the trailer reel every 15 minutes throughout the evening.

    Admission is free. Popcorn, beer, soda and wine available for purchase. Bring your friends, grab a Festival guide book and get ready for the Festival!

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    TMPA Winner Samsara Opens This Weekend in Indy – Win Tickets!

    This Friday, September 21, the stunning film Samsara hits Indianapolis theaters (Landmark Keystone Art Cinema and AMC Castleton Square 14). This Truly Moving Picture Award winner was filmed in 70mm all around the world over five years by renowned filmmakers Ron Fricke and Mark Magidson, and the result is exquisite. The Indianapolis Museum of Art hosted a sneak peek of Samsara one week ago. The audience had many wonderful things to say about the beauty, the surprise and the inspiration of this film. Samsara is a movie you should see, and to prove that, we are giving away five pairs of tickets to see it at any Keystone Art Cinema showing date or time!

    All you have to do is answer one simple question: what country in the world would you most like to visit?

    We’ll pick a comment at random – leave a response now for your chance to win!

    Related: Listen to our interview with Mark Magidson, Producer of TMPA Winner Samsara!

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    Festival Films Announced at Celebration

    On Tuesday night Heartland hosted the Announcement Celebration at the Indianapolis Artsgarden. Heartland Film Society members and sponsors attended the event to find out all 17 Award winners, watch a handful of film trailers, and receive the first copies of the 2012 Festival Guidebook. Warm excitement was in the air of the enchanting downtown Indy landmark, and as each film was announced with its synopsis or trailer following, that only grew. Afterward, there was a mad dash to the ticketing booth, where Heartland Film Society members purchased the first tickets of the Festival!

    Take a look at the Festival guide book, available to download in PDF. The guide book gives details on event/screening schedules and venues, Festival award descriptions, plus film synopses and photos.

    The full line-up of 118 films is now available to see online! General public tickets go on sale September 24, but Heartland Film Society members are eligible for advance-sale, discounted tickets now! Simply go to www.heartlandfilmfestival.org to access the online ticketing website.

    In the Narrative Feature category, Cairo 678 was announced as one of the Festival Award winners.

    In the Shorts category, Dva, Inocente, It’s Such a Beautiful Day, Kipp Normand and Head Over Heels were announced as a few of the Festival Award winners.

    In the Documentary Feature category, High Ground is the Official Selection screening for the Opening Night Event! The Award Winners include the film Rising From Ashes, which has caught the interest of Jack Hanna, who will bring his animals to a special screening of the film.

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