Posts tagged with 2010 Heartland Film Festival

Paradise Recovered making theatrical debut in Indiana!

One year after making its world premiere at the Heartland Film Festival, Paradise Recovered is returning to Indiana to make it’s theatrical debut! The 2010 Official Selection premieres on November 20 at 3 p.m. at the Buskirk-Chumley Theatre in Bloomington, Indiana.

Shot entirely on location in Bloomington and Lawrence County, Indiana and in Austin, Texas, Paradise Recovered lightheartedly but realistically addresses hard questions about faith, tolerance, and spiritual abuse in modern culture.

Director Storme Wood, writer Andie Redwine (from the scriptwriting workshop!) and actors Heather Wallis and Dane Hurlburt will be on hand for a Q&A following the screening. If that isn’t enough for you, they’ll be hanging out at FARM Bloomington’s The Roof Cellar after the event. They’ll have light munchies (you’re welcome to order off the menu!) and a cash bar. All the day’s events can be found on the Paradise Recovered blog.

Tickets are $10/$ 8 for seniors and students and can be purchased through the Buskirk-Chumley box office.

Help us spread the word and pack that premiere!

Festival Wraps with Record Screening Attendance!

The 19th annual Heartland Film Festival concluded on the evening of Saturday, Oct. 23 with the screening of The Presence, starring Oscar® winner Mira Sorvino and Shane West, sponsored by Teachers Credit Union. Director/writer Tom Provost was on hand for the special event and participated in a question and answer session following the screening. The 2010 Audience Choice Award winners were also announced during the event, which took place at the Indianapolis Museum of Art (IMA).

Chosen from thousands of ballots cast by audience members, the Audience Choice Awards were given to those films that were most enjoyed by Festival attendees. All Award‐winning and Official Selection films, with the exception of those within the High School Film Competition Shorts Collection and the Truly Moving Picture Award recipients, were eligible for the award in their respective categories. The 2010 winners are:

Audience Choice Award for Best Dramatic Feature: Festival Award winner Ways to Live Forever, directed and written by Gustavo Ron.
Audience Choice Award for Best Documentary Feature: Official Selection For Once in My Life, directed by Jim Bigham and Mark Moormann.

Audience Choice Award for Best Short Film: Festival Award winner The Butterfly Circus, produced, directed and written by Joshua Weigel.

This year’s Festival attendees saw a record 102 films that bring out the best in the human spirit, as well as met the filmmakers that made them. Screening attendance for the 2010 Festival grew by 10.4 percent from last year, resulting in 36 sold out screenings and a total screening attendance of 21,586.

“Heartland is thrilled to have reached such an important milestone this year by increasing the Festival’s total screening attendance for the 9th year in a row,” said Jeffrey L. Sparks, president and CEO of Heartland Truly Moving Pictures. “We’re encouraged by the continued growth of Heartland and are already looking forward to what will be in store for the Festival next year as we prepare to celebrate the Heartland Film Festival’s 20th anniversary.”

Snowmen actor, Bobby Coleman at the Opening Night Event

The 2010 Heartland Film Festival was kicked off with the screening of Snowmen on Thursday, Oct. 14 at the IMA, sponsored by Lacy Foundation and LDI, Ltd. Director/writer Rob Kirbyson, producers John Shepherd and Stephen McEveety, and actors Bobby Coleman (Martian Child, The Last Song, Must Love Dogs) and Beverly Mitchell (7th Heaven) were in attendance for the special event.

Film screenings began the following evening as 17 Award‐winning films opened at AMC Castleton Square 14. These and the 69 Official Selection films of the 2010 Festival were selected from more than 832 international independent film submissions for best meeting Heartland’s mission and demonstrating excellence in filmmaking.

The festivities continued with all the glitz and glamour of Hollywood during the annual Heartland Film Festival Awards Ceremony on Saturday, Oct. 16 at the Old National Centre in downtown Indianapolis. Indiana native and Emmy® award‐winning journalist Catt Sadler emceed as filmmakers and guests from across the globe gathered to honor the visionaries and films of the 2010 Heartland Film Festival. During the program awards and $150,000 in cash prizes were handed out.

2010 Grand Prize Winners with Heartland President and CEO Jeff Sparks

The $50,000 Grand Prize Award for Best Dramatic Feature was presented to producer/director/writer Travis Fine and producer Kristine Fine for The Space Between.

The $25,000 Award for Best Documentary Feature was given to director Stanley Earl Nelson, Jr. for Freedom Riders. The cash prize award was underwritten by Indianapolis Volkswagen Dealers.

The $10,000 Vision Award for Best Short Film was presented to producer/director/writer Joshua Weigel and producer/writer Rebekah Weigel for The Butterfly Circus. The Vision Award was underwritten by KeyBank.

To date, Heartland has awarded more than $2.3 million to support filmmakers in their quest to create uplifting and inspiring films.  Check out the recap video of the spectacular evening!

Quinton Aaron (The Blind Side) presented this year’s Pioneering Spirit Award to Andrew Kosove and Broderick Johnson, the co‐founders and co‐CEOs of Alcon Entertainment and producers of The Blind Side, My Dog Skip and The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants – all Truly Moving Picture Award recipients.

Additional Festival activities included the Filmmakers’ Brunch, sponsored by the Omni Severin Hotel and OneAmerica Financial Partners, Inc., where film buffs had the opportunity to meet and mingle with the filmmakers of the 2010 Festival. Families gathered at the IMA once again to experience Christmas a little early during the Family Movie Event’s featured film, Nativity!, sponsored by Printing Partners, Panera Bread and Republic Services. Director/writer Debbie Isitt, Producer Nick Jones, and actors Sydney Isitt‐Ager and Alexandra Allen were in attendance for the screening and after party.

Students of film and filmmaking enthusiasts joined the 2010 Heartland Film Festival Award‐winning and Official Selection filmmakers as they broke down their filmmaking process during the Heartland Institute Workshop, which was sponsored by Eli Lilly and Company Foundation, Inc., Finish Line, IUPUI Campus Center, IHETS, Starbucks Coffee Company and Film Indiana.

During the 10‐day Festival, Heartland also showcased two of the latest recipients of Heartland’s Truly Moving Picture Award: Conviction and Made in Dagenham, with special screenings sponsored by Fifth Third Bank, Central Indiana. And, new this year, Heartland Truly Moving Pictures introduced a competition specifically for high school age filmmakers through its Heartland Institute program. Aspiring high school filmmakers were encouraged to create a 10‐minute film that embodied the 2010 theme: HOPE. Each of the Award‐winning and Official Selection high school student filmmakers had their film screened at the 2010 Heartland Film Festival as part of the first annual Heartland High School Film Competition Shorts Collection.

Your 2010 Audience Choice Award Winners!

Your voices have been heard Heartland fans! Here are your 2010 Audience Choice Award Winners!

Audience Choice Award for Best Dramatic Feature: Ways to Live Forever

Directed and written by Gustavo Ron.

Audience Choice Award for Best Documentary Feature: For Once in My Life

Directed by Jim Bigham and Mark Moormann.

Audience Choice Award for Best Short Film: The Butterfly Circus

Produced, directed and written by Joshua Weigel.

Letters to You from the Stars of Summer Eleven!

Hopefully you had the chance to catch Summer Eleven, the story of four 11-year-old girls who over a summer break learn to appreciate friendship and build trust through the hard times in life. Summer Eleven was one of our own Julie Easton’s favorite films of the Festival and we’ve heard a lot of feedback that it touched the heart of many others!

We just received a couple of letters from two of the girls in the film that attended the Festival – Rebecca Butterworth (Miranda) and Alice Ziolkoski (Vanessa). The girls shared with us the fun they had in Indiana and what it was like filming the movie! Click on the thumbnails to read their letters!

Let us know what you thought of the film in the comments and you’ll be entered to win a postcard signed by the girls!

Summer Eleven plays one more time at AMC Showplace tomorrow, Oct 23 at 10:30 a.m. Get Tickets!

Rebecca's Letter

Alice's Letter

Director/Writer/Producer Ken Ochiai Shares His Excitement for the Festival!

Ken Ochiai (left), Director of Frog in the Well

The first time I heard about Heartland Film Festival was when my friend, Joel Nassan, won a Heartland Film Festival Award a few years ago.  Not only did he offer much praise for the festival, but many of the people he met helped him in the next stages of his career.  He said it was the best film festival that he has been to and suggested I submit a film when I got a chance.

Two years later, I finished my AFI thesis film, Half Kenneth: a story of half-Japanese, half-Caucasian brothers who escape from a Japanese American Internment camp during WWII to find their Caucasian mother in town.  When I heard that the film was selected for the Festival, I jumped with excitement.  However, I wasn’t able to attend the Festival due to the shooting schedule of my next film.  So I decided to keep submitting my films to the Festival until I could attend.

My next film, Frog In The Well, was based on my life experience.

Though I was born and raised in Japan, it wasn’t until a short time ago that I realized the importance of my heritage.  Seven years ago, I came to the U.S. with a dream of becoming an international film director like Akira Kurosawa.  I was like a pretentious frog in a shallow well, knowing nothing of the great ocean.

When I first arrived in the States, I tried to speak and think in English and make friends with Americans; I wanted to be an American.  However, when my American friends asked me about Japanese culture and history, I realized that I didn’t know very much about it.  My embarrassment ignited an interest in learning more about my heritage.  Strangely it took me leaving my home country to understand that where I am plays a large role in my own character and decisions.

Since then, every time I went back to Tokyo for the holidays, I took a trip to the countryside of Japan that I had never been to.  I took photos and wrote ideas on my notepad. After a couple of notepads, Justin Miller, my classmate from USC, and I wrote a feature film script, Summer 47: a film about four Californian college students on a road trip through all 47 Japanese prefectures over the course of a summer.

This short film is based on one of the four main characters in the feature script combined with my personal experience and family story.

Justin and I went on a three-week journey through Japan from the northernmost city to the southernmost city, taking 16,000 photos and 8 hours of footage on Canon Mark II 5D along the way.  Our goal was to capture and condense the essence of Japan into a 15-minute short film and to explore a young man’s journey of self, heritage, and sense of belonging.

As I was walking down the middle of a Tokyo intersection, I got a call from Mr. Ray Mills, the festival programmer and was told that my film won the Heartland Film Festival Award. I jumped even higher than last year.

I’m very much looking forward to attending the Festival this year and hope this film may serve as a catalyst to spark it’s viewers interests in visiting the fascinating country of Japan.

Ken Ochiai
Director/Writer/Producer of Frog in the Well

Congratulations to our 2010 Pioneering Spirt Award Honorees Broderick Johnson & Andrew Kosove

Andrew Kosove

Broderick Johnson

Producers Broderick Johnson and Andrew Kosove are Co-Founders and Co-CEOs of Alcon Entertainment, the Los Angeles-based wholly independent production company that develops, finances, produces and markets theatrical motion pictures exclusively for distribution by Warner Bros.

Backed by partner Frederick W. Smith, Chairman and founder of Fed Ex, Alcon has financed, and/or co-financed/ produced 16 films, including both Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, P.S. I Love You, My Dog Skip, Insomnia and The Book of Eli, among others.

In 2009, Johnson and Kosove produced Alcon’s critically acclaimed, box office hit, The Blind Side, which was nominated for a Best Picture Oscar® and earned Sandra Bullock the Oscar for Best Actress in a Leading Role.

Johnson and Kosove recently wrapped production on Something Borrowed, starring Kate Hudson, Ginnifer Goodwin and John Krasinski. The film will be released via Warner Bros. in summer 2011.

Currently, they are producing Dolphin Tale, a family film starring Morgan Freeman, Harry Connick Jr. and Ashley Judd to be released in 2011.

Johnson lives in Los Angeles and is married to Jennifer Johnson, they have two children.

Kosove is also an accomplished marathon runner and ironman distance triathlete. He lives in Los Angeles and is married to producer Kira Davis, they have two children.

Rick Stevenson Shares Why He Believes “Shorts are the Films of the Future”

Director of Displaced, Rick Stevenson

I think I must have the distinction of being the only filmmaker to have made eleven features before making my first short. Does this mean my career is going backwards? Will I be offering myself up for birthday parties and weddings next? I better have some cards printed.

Actually, I’ve always loved shorts as an actual art form, not just an audition piece.  Now as I’m heading off to The Heartland Film Festival with my short, Displaced, I’m actually more excited than I was when I first came to Heartland with my feature, Expiration Date, four years ago. Expiration Date, a black comedy about a man living under an unfortunate family curse involving milk trucks, went on to play 101 film festivals on six continents and win 33 awards. So why the excitement over a short? Because I think shorts are the films of the future and are all a part of a greater movement. Let me explain.

The system is deeply broken and no more so than in the realm of indie features. Despite the good work being done, there is simply no economic model in existence to support such ventures. This year, 99 out of 100 Indie filmmakers will scarcely make a penny back for their investors. Now, before we all head for the cliffs like Lemmings (something I would argue we’ve been doing for years), let me say that I’m optimistic because it’s the Wild West out there and anything is possible. Eventually some order will come to this lawless land.

In the arena of shorts, however, something exciting is already happening. As people’s attention spans shrink, ‘the short’ has gained new currency. Rather than committing to 100 minutes watching a feature, people seem increasingly interested in watching YouTube or searching the internet for other small dishes of entertainment to consume. As the 30-second commercial loses it efficacy in the age of TIVO, companies are increasingly turning to short branded entertainment as a means to get their message out. Does this mean that you can make a living making shorts? Not yet. Not in the traditional sense. However, as the film business continues to implode, one thing is clear: There will always be a need for good storytellers and there will likely be some money in it. Witness the origins of Displaced.

Several months ago I was approached by the City of Seattle Water Department as one of five artists to make a film around the role of water in our lives. I was offered a fee of $5,000 and a budget of $10,000 to write, direct and produce a short film over a weekend. I thought it sounded fun and Displaced, a story about 11 year old foster child, Daniel, who is given one last chance to find a family, was born. It’s far from a masterpiece but it’s a wonderful story that fulfilled ‘a client’s needs’ as well as my own (my wife and I adopted a foster daughter to join our three other children).

CUT TO:  Four years ago when I was privileged to see so many wonderful films on the film festival circuit. In response, I started an organization called OFFICIAL BEST OF FEST which is basically a posse of 100 curators at top film festivals around the world empowered with the job of trying to bring all of these underappreciated films to light—whether they be features or shorts. We financed the organization by boxing up many of these award-winning films into gift sets and selling them to stores that never sell media—like Nordstrom (see thereby exposing a whole new audience to the mountain top of indie film.

More significantly, just this week, we are premiering its first 30-part television series called OFFICIAL BEST OF FEST Presents “The Best Films You’ve Never Seen” (shows October 16th on PBS in Seattle and goes national in April). It features award-winning shorts wrapped up in a fun, unpretentious if not downright goofy intro. Here’s a link to the pilot.

While shows featuring shorts are still an absolute rarity and don’t offer a lot in terms of a license fee, when offered in concert with the GIFT SETS, the filmmakers get to reap the artistic and economic benefits of exposure through royalties on the backend. And while getting into the OFFICIAL BEST OF FEST show is highly competitive since the best shorts from around the world are considered, the show has a prejudice towards clean and accessible entertainment along the lines of Heartland since it is going out over the airwaves. Other organizations like the wonderful DOORPOST PROJECT are also supporting shorts as a worthy means of pumping a bit of light into a sometimes dark world. If this does not constitute a movement, I don’t know what does.

Anyway, I’m headed to two other film festivals this weekend before I end up at Heartland on Sunday morning but I cannot wait to meet my fellow soldiers in this campaign to bring uplifting stories to the public. And everyone knows that the best come to Heartland! (By the way, if any Heartland Filmmaker wants to submit for OBOF please use “Heartland” and we’ll grant a fee waiver—go to and click on TV CONTEST). But I have to go shoot a Bar Mitzvah first :) .

Rick Stevenson

Opening Night Event – A Night to Remember!

What a night! I don’t know about all of you but we could not have asked for a better Opening Night Event for the 2010 Fest. We started things off with the pre-reception where the room was full of beautiful ice sculptures (a favorite of Snowmen star Bobby Coleman), tons of filmmakers, delicious food and the one and only Jon McLaughlin who wooed the ladies with his Oscar nominated song “So Close.” (which appeared in the film, Enchanted – a Truly Moving Picture Award winner!)

The opening scene of the film immediately grabbed the audience and provided a room full of laughs! After the screening Heartland President and CEO Jeff Sparks lead Writer/Director , Producers John Shepherd and Stephen McEveety and stars Bobby Coleman and Beverley Mitchell in a Q&A session with the audience.

Kirbyson explained that his childhood growing up in Canada heavily influenced the script. In fact, the team wanted to shoot the film in Winnipeg but because it was too cold they chose Park City, Utah. Kirbyson also shared that he especially loved shooting the underwater scenes.

The night ended with a wonderful dessert reception and great conversations. Thanks to everyone who attended, our unbelievable volunteers, the filmmakers and stars of Snowmen, the Indianapolis Museum of Art and sponsors The Lacy Foundation and LDI, Ltd. for providing us with yet another wonderful Heartland event!

A Meet & Greet With This Year’s Filmmakers!

On Wednesday night, Heartland staff, sponsors and volunteers helped welcome many of this year’s filmmakers at a reception at the Omni Severin Hotel! We shared in drinks, food and great conversations. As always, it was great to see the faces of the filmmakers we have been interacting so much with over the past few months! It was also so fun to catch up with some of our old filmmaker friends from years past. It’s to good to see them again in the Heartland!

Some of those who were in attendance were the folks from Paradise Recovered and Jeremy, Ken Ochiai from Frog in the Well, Gustavo Ron from Ways to Live Forever and some of our High School Film Competition winners! It was also surreal to see Beverly Mitchell from Snowmen (and of course, 7th Heaven!).

It was a perfect evening to kick-off the biggest Festival in Heartland Film Festival history. With more than 100 films and more than 150 filmmakers, it was just the beginning to a crazy fun week! Thanks to all that attended and a special thanks to the Omni who never fails to put on a classy event for us! See you at the movies!

The River Why On My List of Festival Favorites!

Amber Chance Markov, Director of Finance and Administration

Who doesn’t love a good-looking guy and free-spirited woman (equally as good-looking) that share a passion and way of life for fishing? Throw in a philosopher, beautiful scenery, a well-known columnist and you have a young man on his way to self-discovery in The River Why.

What I love most about this movie is the fishing!  Just kidding… kind of.  It’s amazing how fishing can do so much for one person.  For Gus, it feeds him, teaches him respect, returns him to his roots and helps him find love.  And love is what it’s all about! From the first time Gus meets Eddy, you know it’s love at first sight, at least for Gus. With the help of his newly-found friend and a newspaper writer, Gus begins to view life from a different perspective and grabs the attention of Eddy.

From there on out, it’s a classic boy-turns-into-man-who-gets-the-girl story! It’s heartwarming and natural. My favorite film of the 2010 Festival!

One film to check out during this year’s Festival – Mars

Tim Irwin, TMP Programming Coordinator

There are a number of great films in the 2010 Heartland Film Festival, but none quite as eclectic as Mars. A quick glance at this year’s lineup reveals so many dramas, comedies and documentaries that it might be difficult to decide what films might suit you best. If you have a penchant for something quirky and different, Mars stands out as a non-traditional animated feature that combines elements of slacker comedies, science fiction and romance in a way few films can manage.

The story takes place a few years in the future. The space race is heating up, with the European Space Agency duking it out with NASA for bragging rights. The ESA has launched a robotic probe in an effort to explore Mars, with the hope of making a monumental discovery. NASA, not to be outdone, sends a small crew of astronauts in an attempt to be the first people to land on the red planet. This misfit gang endures a variety of trials and tribulations as they rocket toward Mars, and discover a great deal about themselves and each other on their journey.

The most striking element of the film is its unorthodox animation style. Rotoscoping (the process of drawing over filmed images) has been used before, but this particular technique utilizes software that director Geoff Marslett co-developed. Stick around for the end credits to catch a glimpse at how they shot the entire film on a green-screened sound stage and added all the backgrounds and effects in post-production. But Mars is more than just a uniquely animated feature film.  The story provides a fascinating look at how modern society views exploration, particularly when compared to famous explorers of the past. Telling the tale through the eyes of a trio of misfits (two of them would perfectly fit a “slacker” classification) adds an immediate, contemporary atmosphere to the proceedings. Dry wit and humor add to the strange mix of styles, but the film somehow manages to remain coherent and cohesive, delivering a touching story that explores a number of truths about the human journey. If you’re looking for something different and spectacular during this year’s Festival, be sure to check out Mars.

Thunder Soul Brings Us Back in Time

Peggy Monson, Vice President for Advancement

I love this movie.  I also love 70s  music – James Brown, KC and the Sunshine Band, Earth Wind and Fire and Chaka Khan. But I don’t think my appreciation for funk is a prerequisite for appreciating Thunder Soul. Because Thunder Soul is a love story. And who can resist a good love story?

But this is not the traditional boy meets girl and live happily ever after. No. This is about a high school stage band who achieved national acclaim in the 70’s and whose members reunite after 30 years for a concert to pay homage to their band leader.

What unfolds is the story of Conrad “Prof” Johnson and the impact he had on the lives of his students at Kashmere High.  You see an educator who instills pride, teamwork, and discipline. He is a musician who is passionate about excellence in the art form.  And you see a story of how dedication to an ideal can overcome great odds.

So if you remember the 70’s, go and get your groove on with Thunder Soul. If you don’t remember the 70’s, go be inspired by a group of people whose lives were forever changed by the power of a good teacher.

President and CEO Jeff Sparks Shares His Festival To-Do List

We’ve got another great year folks!  As we kick off the 2010 Festival, I thought I’d share some of my favorite things to do at the Festival:

  • Closing Night – We’re excited to end this year’s Festival with our first ever suspense film.  I know it will have a wonderful impact on everyone.
  • Friday October 15 at the AMC Castleton Square – We kick off the first night of screenings all in one location with all the best of the best with filmmakers doing Q and A at every screening.  This year not only are we showcasing the Heartland Film Festival Award-winning films, but the winners and official selections of the 2010 Heartland High School Film Competition.  Come celebrate with those already working in filmmaking and the filmmakers of tomorrow.
  • Heartland Institute Workshop – is always very strong with many filmmakers on hand to talk about their journeys in independent filmmaking.  Check out the line-up!
  • The Heartland Film Festival Awards Ceremony – for only $40 you can enjoy Hollywood coming to Indianapolis with the Awards Ceremony and Afterglow party following – it is not to be missed
  • Filmmakers Brunch – one of the best ways to have some quality time with the filmmakers.
  • Family Movie Event – always a fan favorite, this year’s film Nativity! will not disappoint.  It’s great film for the whole family and I know it will make a wonderful experience for your kids as the committee behind the party always outdo themselves with a great celebration that is a part of the package
  • Opening Night – Even though we’re all sold out, be sure to catch this one early next year! It’s so fun to celebrate the start to the Festival together!
  • The Shorts Programs – are always a big hit with folks as they are a showcase of up and coming filmmakers and a chance to see films that you would not see otherwise
  • As far as films – I have always made it the rule to not say what are my favorites – what I tell folks is look at the website, see what sounds good to you and know you will be almost guaranteed to like the film as the Heartland folks have done the hard work of narrowing down the field to the best films out there
  • See as many films as you can – take some time off from work and spend a day seeing movies – but be careful – it is addicting

I hope you all get the chance to enjoy as much of the Festival as possible!  Don’t forget to share your reviews on the website and through Facebook and Twitter.  Help us spread the word on all the Festival has to offer!

New for the 2010 Festival: Late Night Line-up!

These films make up a series of Late Night Features that represent Heartland’s mission and values through edgy themes and tough issues.

The Parking Lot Movie

The Parking Lot Movie: A singular parking lot in Charlottesville, Virginia is the workplace of a select group of parking lot attendants and their strange rite of passage. This film is an Official Selection.


Black, White and Blues

Black, White and Blues:
Bailey drinks too much, works too little and has no one meaningful in his life – until he unexpectedly experiences redemption through the power of the blues. This film is an Official Selection.



A college kid comes of age one summer amidst family conflict provoked by his father’s passing. This film is an Official Selection.



George, a lonely librarian, believes love is simply obsolete until he takes a road trip to Death Valley with a cinema projectionist named Sophie. This film is an Official Selection.


The Rock 'n' Roll Dreams of Duncan Christopher

The Rock ‘n Roll Dreams of Duncan Christopher:
After the suicide of his rock star father, Duncan works through his father’s unexpected death in the brutal underground world of karaoke. This film is an Official Selection.


Beyond the Pole

Beyond the Pole
: A documentary film crew follows the first carbon-neutral, organic and vegetarian expedition to traverse the North Pole. This film is an Official Selection.


Don't Quit Your Daydream

Don’t Quit Your Daydream
: Two musicians, and sometimes friends, take a road-trip through the heart of America recording their third album. This film is an Official Selection.



: In 2014, the discovery of life on the Red Planet leads to a space race between a robotic expedition and a manned mission. This film is an Official Selection.


Discover Waste Land

Peggy Monson, Vice President for Advancement

A movie about the largest garbage dump in the world.  Really.  When I put the DVD in the player, I thought this might be something like I would see on the Discovery Channel or read in the Guinness Book of World Records. I was mildly interested, at best.

Instead, I watched the story of what happens when a world renown artist chooses as his subject the people who live and work every day picking through a Brazilian landfill and meets their leader, a young man with a vision to unite and lift up his people.

I didn’t expect to see these ordinary people showcased through the eyes of an artist who saw the beauty and nobility in their circumstance; who through the sale of his art enables their leader to realize his dream to bring dignity and hope and prosperity to his people.

So this isn’t really a movie about the largest garbage dump in the world.  It is about the triumph of wills –the triumph of the human spirit. It is about believing in something bigger than yourself and achieving great things.

Go discover the abundance of Waste Land.

Summer Eleven – An Excellent Film for Families!

Julie Easton, Advancement Coordinator

As a new staffer, my goal was to watch all of the films in this year’s Festival.  Well, I have almost hit that goal and I can tell you that this year will certainly not disappoint.  We have more diversity in our films this year than ever before.  As a mother of a seven year old daughter and an 18-month old son, it is important to me that Heartland continues to program films that allow me to bring my children to see uplifting, well-made and thoughtful movies.  From the more serious Alabama Moon to the light-hearted and hysterical Nativity! to a story of courage and compassion in First Dog, there are plenty of options for you and your family.

For me, I was really taken by the film Summer Eleven, a story about the lives of four 11-year old girls and their families over the course of their summer break. This incredible coming-of-age film reminds us of the importance of true friendship and accepting people for who they are.  Summer Eleven covers so many relevant topics going on right now including homelessness, divorce, class prejudice, death and so much more.  This film takes these four girls on a journey of discovering what matters the most and how the bonds of friendship can get you through even the most difficult of situations.

What I truly enjoyed about this film is how the filmmakers intertwined the family dynamic of each girl into the story so well.  The story begins with Vanessa who is an aspiring young actress living with her single mother who focuses all of her energy on her daughter’s blossoming career.  Jess is a strong young lady but struggles to cope with her mother’s overbearing live-in boyfriend and the reality of not getting to spend time with her father.  Perry and her brother and mother are dealing with the embarrassment of living out of their mother’s car after she lost her job and her marriage, while Lizzie and her parents pray for her brother Jerry who is serving overseas in the war.

As the story unfolds, you begin to find out more about the struggles each of these families are dealing with and how the values of the parents shape the lives of these four young girls. What starts off as one mother questioning the parenting skills of another turns into a realization that her priorities are all askew, turning her focus into an incredible act of kindness. Another family struggles with the aftermath of the affects of war and finds that the selflessness and innocence of childhood can break the barriers of even the most difficult of situations.  Summer Eleven is an inspiring true-to-life depiction of the ups and downs of four young girls and how their deep bonds carry them through as they start begin a new chapter of their lives in middle school.

I hope you have the opportunity to see this movie with your family, especially if you have young daughters.  It truly is what the Heartland Film Festival is all about!

2010 Heartland Institute Workshop and the Art of Collaboration

Claire Norton, Director of Heartland Institute

As we wrapped up the 2009 Heartland Film Festival we realized the common sentiment among nearly each filmmaker discussing his or her films’ success was the importance of collaborating with others during the filmmaking process.  With that in mind, in 2010 we embarked on developing a Heartland Institute Workshop that embraced the theme of collaboration on multiple levels.  We wanted aspiring filmmakers to not only walk away from our workshop with insights into honing specific aspects of their craft, but also wanted them to walk away with an appreciation for and inspiration about what they can do with a team of fellow filmmakers.

The 2010 Heartland Institute Workshop is just around the corner (mark your calendar for October 18!) and we’re excited to have been able to achieve just what we set out to do.  Past Institute presenter Elliot Kotek will be kicking the morning off with his discussion on using social media to make and promote films.  Past festival award winners Gustavo Ron and Frank Kelly will chat with Elliot as well as the three of them explore the value of collaboration on their most recent project, experimental documentary and 2010 Official Selection, 140.

Two more presenters will follow Kotek, building on the theme of the day.  Official Selection filmmaker Chip Hackler will present on the collaborative process of making his short film Two Hours in the Dark, which tells a fascinating story about Frank Capra.  Then Award-winning filmmaker of The Road Home, Rahul Gandotra and co-author of Third Culture Kids: The Experience of Growing Up Among Worlds, Ruth E. Van Reken will discuss how the making of The Road Home has lead them to focus on collaborating in the future.

And guess what. It doesn’t stop there.  During lunch a panel made up of 2010 Award-winning and Official Selection filmmakers will answer audience questions on topics ranging from writing, directing, producing and much more.  Panelists Elliot Kotek, Gustavo Ron, Andie Redwine, Storme Wood and Sultan Sharrief are sure to cap off a full day of inspiration and insight by sharing their filmmaking experiences in way that’s certain to keep filmmakers motivated and working away at their next film.

Can’t wait to see you there!

Producer/Writer Andie Redwine Shares Her Story of Making Movies From Home in the Heartland

Producer and Writer Andie Redwine (left) with Director Storme Wood

Summer in Indiana is the season for fresh, homegrown sweet corn and those warm, sugary tomatoes that taste nothing like the ones at the grocery store. It’s the time when kids on vacation catch lightning bugs in fruit jars or build a house for a box turtle found in the backyard.  This is the perfect setting for what we call ‘homegrown filmmaking’.

In case you didn’t know it already, we’re not a big, fancy production company.  In fact, I have to clear my workspace in the dining room so that we can eat dinner.

Both the director, Storme Wood, and I balance time with our families with filmmaking.  This doesn’t mean that we are weekend parents.  It means that we are the primary caregivers while our spouses work.

In the middle of post-production, we have had to stop everything to find a lost shoe.  We have halted a production meeting to play ‘Go Fish’.  We have folded laundry while making budgeting decisions, called into meetings from soccer games, and hung up the phone with a fellow producer to better arbitrate a sibling squabble.  Our spouses have come home and made dinner more times than we would like to admit.

Sure, this kind of filmmaking takes longer.  A lot longer.  But with a lot of hard work, late nights, early mornings, and quite a bit of grace in the form of coffee, we were able to pull it off.

Most filmmakers are actually pretty amazed that we were able to make a movie this way.  Had we had a bigger budget or more resources, we’re not sure we would have shot Paradise Recovered any differently.

The summer of 2009 found us on lush creek banks, on Hoosier back roads, and in clover fields getting that perfect magic-hour shot.  It found us in a small town VFW Hall, a courthouse square, and a Big Ten university campus.  And it found us in a number of small businesses that make up the backbone of Indiana culture.

“Can you believe this set?” our Austin-based director of photography David Blue Garcia would muse from time to time.  “I mean, productions pay big bucks for set design like this.  And we just show up and, well, here it is!”

The hospitality shown to us while we filmed here in Indiana was incredible.  For instance, Sahara Mart, a locally-owned health food store in Bloomington, allowed us to shoot on their premises during business hours and gave us a nice discount on food for our crew.  The Palms, a Bedford beauty salon and spa, was gracious enough to open up for us on a Sunday so that we could shoot undisturbed.  Local city governments provided permit-free locations and blocked off free parking places, caterers delivered to out of the way locations without delivery charges, and good friends kept our kids occupied during filming.

When we watch our credits roll at the end of our film, we are floored at how many generous people there are in this great state.  Over 120 extras came out to be a part of our production, thanks to the promotion from Bedford Little Theatre.  Broad Ripple and Bloomington musicians offered their amazing, original songs.  The Indiana arts community really greeted us with open arms, and they gave our partners and friends from Austin an amazingly warm welcome.

As first-time feature filmmakers and stay-at-home parents, Storme and I have had a pretty big learning curve, but the kindness shown by our Indiana cohorts made seemingly difficult challenges easier.  Collaboration in filmmaking is essential to success, especially at the ultra-low budget level, and we could not have made this film without the help of our friends and neighbors.

When you come to a Heartland screening of Paradise Recovered, you’ll be seeing a homegrown film in its native setting. Come on up afterwards and say hello.  We’re proud to represent Indiana filmmaking at Heartland Film Festival, and we are grateful to everyone who helped make Paradise Recovered a success.  Thank you for giving this stay-at-home mom the opportunity to dress up and call herself a filmmaker…and now to set the table.

–Andie Redwine
Producer and Writer of Paradise Recovered

A Film that Provides a New Perspective on the Small Things

Allison Ackmann, Front Desk Administrator

I know what you’re probably thinking: “A movie about a parking lot? Are you kidding me?”  Trust me – It’s much more than a movie about a parking lot.

The Parking Lot Movie is documentary about a parking lot in Charlottesville, Virginia gives the viewer an inside look at the tight knit community of parking attendants. Past and present attendants from all walks of life come together to discuss the bond created the moment they’re hired by parking lot owner Chris Farina. The eclectic group of students, artists, philosophers and musicians prove that it’s more than just a parking lot.

From patrons not wanting to pay to people breaking the gates to the fear of carrying a large wad of cash at the end of the evening shows us that the seemingly easy job of taking money and parking cars is actually a battle of humanity. As each attendant recounts his time as an attendant the camaraderie becomes evident across generations.

The hilarious stories will stick with you and I guarantee this will give you entirely new perspective on parking attendants.

Heartland Filmmaker, Frank Kelly Talks About the Importance of ‘Connection’

Filmmaker Frank Kelly

For me the Heartland Film Festival is all about Connection – connection to our work, to cinema, to the world around us and to each other.  I have a strong connection to the Festival and I have made many strong connections because of the Festival.  My film 140, an Official Selection this year, is about being connected – physically, spiritually and electronically.  And without my connection to the Heartland Film Festival, it may never have happened.

I discovered Heartland five years ago, when  researching festivals for my first film, a short called Emily’s Song.  After entering the Festival I didn’t think much more about it, until I got a call from the film programmer at the time, Maryann Koopman, reminding me that I hadn’t sent my screener in!  I apologised and immidiately sent the film.  I was glad she called, because some months later I got a call from Heartland’s President &  CEO Jeff Sparks, who told me I had won a Crystal Heart Award.  Not only that but a cash prize and an all expensies paid trip to the Festival.

All that was fantastic, but it became very much secondary to the real rewards I would gain from the Festival: Vision, inspiration, contacts, colleagues, friendship and of course, love – but more on that in a second.

I attended the festival in October 2006 and got to experience an Indiana fall.  Balmy when I arrived, blistering cold when I left and the most beautiful display of changing leaves I had ever seen.  It was the year Shooting Dogs won the grand prize, what a great film.  I had a chance to hang out with David Wolstencroft, the writer, who was in attendence.  We became fast friends and have stayed in touch to this day.  As a writer with much more experience than I, he is always on hand for advice.

Among the other filmmakers that year were Ryan Little and Adam Abel with Outlaw Trail, Varda Hardy with Window, Anna Christopher with Queen of Cactus Cove and Elliot Kotek, a visiting journalist for Moving Pictures Magazine.  I stayed in touch with everyone.  In particular Elliot.  We have since become good friends and colleagues, producing several projects together, including 140, with many more in development.

Maryann and Frank Kelly

The films I saw that year and the people I met were a huge inspiration to me.  I can honestly say it changed my life.  I mean really changed my life.  I mentioned love… Well, I also hung out with Maryann Koopman during the festival.  I mentioned her already, the film programer who reminded me to send my film?  Well, I found her to be a bright, funny, charming and talented young woman, who I connected with instantly.  We quickly became friends and after the Festival we stayed in touch.  To cut a long story short, we fell in love, got married and now live in Ireland with our nine-month old daughter Evelyn.  So yeah, you could say Heartland changed my life!

But I’m getting ahead of myself. The following year I returned to the Festival as a guest.  I met several talented filmmakers including Spanish brothers Gustavo and Alvaro Ron and LA producer Robert Zappia.

The reason I mention all these seemingly random connections is for two reasons.  First, the importance of going to festivals, not just to represent your film, but also to meet like-minded people who share your passion.  The second, because all these filmmakers took part in my project, 140. They were the first people I went to when I started looking for filmmakers and they all said yes, and even helped recruit more filmmakers.

Among the Heartland Alumni in 140 are Anna Christopher (Award Winner – Queen of Cactus Cove), Varda Hardy (Award Winner – Window), Gustavo Ron (Award Winner – Mia Sarah and Ways to Live Forever), Alvaro Ron (Award Winner -  Mia Sarah), Ryan Little & Adam Abel (Award Winner – Saints & Soldiers, Truly Moving Picture Award – Forever Strong), Marc Havener (Official Selection – And What Remains), Robert Zappia (Official Selection – Christmas is Here Again), Zach Helm (Truly Moving Picture Award – Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium), Myself (Award Winner – Emily’s Song, Official Selection – Bill, For Short and 140) and Elliot Kotek.

This is a Festival that seeks out the best of cinema around the world. Not only that, it gives a stage and a voice to cinema that inspires, reaches new heights, explores the human journey and represents the best of the human spirit.  For me 140 is all about this.  The theme of 140 is connection.  I asked the filmmakers to look inside themselves and then at the world around them and figure out what it was that connected them to where they were in the world. And I think they understood what I was trying to do because, in part, of their past experience with Heartland.  They instantly knew what I meant  and understood what I was asking them to capture.

I’m glad I made it to Heartland in 2006 because of the life changing connections I made.  And I’m thrilled, 4 years on, to be able to return and show what grew from the seeds that were planted back then.

Frank Kelly
Director and Producer of 2010 Official Selection Documentary Feature 140.

Nativity! Makes My List of Festival Favorites

Katie Pellerin, Director of Truly Moving Picture Awards

I dare you to watch this film and not love it! It’s hard to come by a film that is so light-hearted yet funny and very honest. There are so many positive messages – truth, honesty, courage – in the film for children as well as adults and they are presented with great humor and relatability.

In the beginning, Martin Freeman’s character (yes, that’s right – Tim from the British version of “The Office”!) is much like the Scrooge of the story. He once was an actor but unlike his actor comrades, he did not continue a career in the field. He instead became a bitter, grouchy teacher. (Poor kids.) But with the help of his crazy sidekick/student teacher and a bunch of incredibly adorable children who have a passion for showing their talents, he comes to love the time of year (and the stage) once again. With a chance that his ex-girlfriend from years past (whom of course he still loves) may come to the big show all the way from Hollywood, he works hard to make sure his students’ version of Nativity! is unlike any other.

Above all else, you will adore the kids in the film and your kids will have a blast watching it. Dancing, singing and downright silliness mixed with British humor? You can’t go wrong! Join us for a Family Movie Event you won’t want to miss!

Katie A. Pellerin
Director, Truly Moving Picture Awards

Filmmaker Gustavo Ron Returns to Heartland

Filmmaker Gustavo Ron (left) with actor Manuel Lozano at the 2007 Heartland Film Festival

Heartland Film Festival 2007 was one of the best festivals I’ve attended.  The festival crew were fantastic to all of us, there wasn’t a single night without a few beers at the Claddagh. That was a great place to meet filmmakers and chat about film festivals, etc.  I met Frank Kelly there, a Crystal Heart Award winner, and after that year’s festival he brought some of us into his debut feature film 140.  A film that will also be in this years festival!  Isn’t that amazing!  We’ll miss you Frank and we’ll miss Maryann, Frank’s wife! You’ve probably heard the story of these two… well, they met at the 2006 festival… and that was love at first sight.  Little Evelyn (their 9th month old daughter) is very thankful to Heartland.  In 2007 my festival experience started with a fantastic tour around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway with driver Jeff Sparks.  That’s something you need to try!  It was great to meet Jeff and spend a few days together visiting different TV programmes and radio stations promoting the festival, but most of all, trying to bring the whole of Indianapolis together under the same umbrella.  One of my best experiences at screenings around the world was at Heartland.  It was the day of my last screening.  After the Q&A everyone left, everyone except for a lady who came closer to me to tell me:

“I’ve just come all the way from Florida to watch your movie. My sister said I needed to see this one, and I’m glad I did. I laughed and I cried. Now I’m going back home feeling like I never did before…”  This is the best feedback you can get from audiences, and you only get these ones at places like Heartland.

I’m really looking forward to revisiting the Festival and hanging out with old friends… and making some new ones I hope!  All the best!

Gustavo Ron
Director and Writer of 2010 Crystal Heart Award Winner, Ways to Live Forever

The Most Festival Film Submissions EVER!

Ray Mills, Festival Programming Coordinator

Ray Mills, Festival Programming Coordinator

So this is my second year as the programming coordinator for the Heartland Film Festival. What does that mean?  Well right now it means that I watch a heck of a lot of movies.  Last year I watched approximately 250 films out of 605 that were submitted to the festival.  I’m pretty sure I’m on my way to, at least, that number again this year.  I am a bit smarter about it all though and the process seems to be a bit smoother than last year.  We program approximately 70 to 80 films at the Heartland Film Festival every year and, after the festival was finished,  in a moment of brilliance or delirium (the jury is still out) I thought that maybe I should set a goal of having 800 films submitted for 2010.  That way, we are programming about 10% of the submissions that are coming in and hopefully more filmmakers would be aware of our existence.  Plus I thought that having more submissions would make our final selections more prestigious!  So I set the goal: 800 for 2010!  Of course, that was November of 2009 when I was still in fest recovery mode!

Fast forward to 2010.  Sundance is always the opening of the festival season for us as we begin scouring the web to see what films are making their way through the festival circuit.  I was very fortunate to have the able assistance of Tim Irwin who absorbs more movie knowledge faster than anyone I know.  We set out to get the best films possible submitted to the festival and guess what?  We did it!  Not only did we have 800 submissions accounted for just 11 hours before our call for entries closed in June, but we are seeing a higher quality of films coming through our review committees.

Total film submission for 2010: 832!!

Now I have even more movies to watch!  Oh well…it will just make for an amazing festival this October.  Don’t miss out this year!

- Ray Mills, Festival Programming Coordinator