Posts tagged with Heartland Film Festival

2013 Heartland Film Festival Breaks All Submissions Records, Announces Partnership with ShortsHD™

Heartland Film Festival receives over 1,500 submissions from nearly 80 countries, will have short films featured on cable/satellite TV network.

Submissions for the 2013 Heartland Film Festival (Oct. 17 – 26) have smashed all previous records across multiple categories. Heartland’s success has grown substantially over the years, with an overall increase of 151 percent in submission numbers since 2009, thanks in part to the Festival’s selection as a qualifying festival for the Annual Academy Awards® in the Short Films Category in 2011. This means that the winner of the Grand Prize for Best Narrative Short Film will qualify for consideration in the Short Films category of the Annual Academy Awards® without the standard theatrical run, provided the film otherwise complies with the Academy rules. Three 2012 Heartland Film Festival Award Winners were selected as nominees for the 2013 Academy Awards® and one, “Inocente,” won the Oscar® for Best Documentary, Short Subject.

Records were broken in the following categories:

  • Overall number of submissions
    • 1,521 – up from 1,292 submissions in 2012
  • Number of countries represented
    • 79 – up from 63 countries in 2012
  • Number of High School Film Competition submissions
    • 71 – up from 52 in 2012
  • Number of countries represented in the High School Film Competition
    • 5 – up from 2 in 2012

Known throughout the industry as a “filmmakers’ festival,” the Heartland Film Festival (Oct. 17-26) will add even more opportunities for independent filmmakers as it partners with the ShortsHD™ network to offer select short film category winners the opportunity to be featured in blocks of festival-themed programming later this year. These films will also have opportunities for distribution via iTunes and Amazon Instant Video.

ShortsHD™ is the world’s first high definition short movie channel. Its programming is categorized into one-hour and half-hour themed blocks that cover a variety of genres, including comedies, musicals, documentaries, thrillers, dramas and animation.

ShortsHD™ features Academy Award® winners and nominees, international festival winners, high quality CGI animation, cinematic gems from international independent moviemakers and award-winning movies from the brightest new directors.

“We are extremely excited about our partnership with ShortsHD™,” says Tim Irwin, Heartland’s Artistic Director. “Heartland is proud to be working with a partner like ShortsHD, a vocal advocate of these amazing, often overlooked short films. Between this new relationship and our Academy Award® qualifying status the Heartland Film Festival is really making a name for itself within the world of short films.”

“As a kid who grew up in Terre Haute, there couldn’t be a film festival I am more excited for ShortsHD™ to partner with than the Heartland Film Festival in Indianapolis,” says Carter Pilcher, Chief Executive of ShortsHD™. ”Each year we work with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to release the Oscar® Nominated Shorts Films in theatres across the country, and Heartland’s position as an Academy qualifying festival makes it a key partner in efforts to promote the world’s most entertaining short films and the short film rock stars who make them.”

Select films from Heartland Film Festival will be featured on ShortsHD™ later this year.

About ShortsHD™
ShortsHD™ is the first high definition channel dedicated to short movies and is available on DIRECTV (Channel 568), and AT&T U-Verse (Channel 1789). ShortsHD™ is operated by Shorts International, the world’s leading short movie entertainment company with the world’s largest movie catalogue dedicated to short movies. Shorts International also operates ShortsTV™, which is available in France, Belgium, Luxembourg on Numericable (Channels 134 and 52) and in Turkey via TTNET’s Tivibu service.  Shorts™ is the short movie on-demand service available on iTunes movie stores in the US, Canada, Mexico, Japan, Taiwan and throughout Europe. The company is headquartered in London, England with additional offices in Paris and Los Angeles and is led by Carter Pilcher, Chief Executive. Shorts International is owned by Shorts Entertainment Holdings and Liberty Global Ventures.

Heartland Film Festival Voted No. 1 “Best Local Film Festival” by NUVO Readers

Thank you, NUVO readers: The Heartland Film Festival has been voted the No. 1 “Best Local Film Festival” in NUVO’s 2013 Best of Indy survey!

Mark your calendars for the 2013 Heartland Film Festival, October 17-26 in Indianapolis. We are doing away with online ticket fees, adding a new screening venue in Fountain Square and will soon announce some other exciting news!

View all the Best of Indy winners over at

The Anderson Monarchs Now Available on Netflix!

The Anderson Monarchs, a 2012 Heartland Film Festival Official Selection, is now available on Netflix!

Directed by Eugene Martin, this documentary is about an all-girls soccer team competing, living, and thriving in an at-risk urban neighborhood in Philadelphia. Nominated in 2008 by Sports Illustrated as Sports Team of the year, they were also hailed as the future of American Soccer in the London newspaper, The Guardian. This documentary trails two girls through the formative years that will alter the direction and course of their lives forever. The Anderson Monarchs are the only all girls, nationally competitive African American soccer club in the United States.

Living in the inner city of Philadelphia, these girls face many challenges and uncertainties. Being an Anderson Monarch is a chance to be on a tight-knit team but also a place to be simply a girl, a little girl in most cases, playful, funny, squirmy—but playing good soccer too. The film lovingly depicts this—goofing around on the sidelines, pillow fights in a hotel room while at a soccer tournament, soccer practice in Halloween costumes. The coach fosters an environment of mutual respect, care for others and most of all, a safe place to just be a kid, all while developing first-rate soccer players.

2010 Festival Audience Choice Award Winner Ways to Live Forever in Theaters July 19

Ways to Live ForeverHeartland is pleased to share that 2010 Heartland Film Festival Official Selection and Audience Choice Award winner Ways to Live Forever will be released in theaters July 19! Locations include:

A portion of the box office proceeds from the film will benefit several pediatric hospitals and cancer charities and foundations that are officially supporting the film. The complete list (which includes the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Johns Hopkins, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, and more) is available on the supporters page of the film’s official website.

Film Synopsis
Like most inquisitive boys, 12-year old Sam wants to know about UFOs, horror movies, ghosts, and girls. Sam also has leukemia, and although the adults in his life don’t want him to dwell on it, Sam wants to know everything about his disease and death, a possibility he might face. Together with his best friend, Felix, he embarks on a “scientific investigation” with questions, observations, evidence, reflections, and lists of all the things he wants to do someday — like breaking a world record, flying in a blimp, kissing a girl for the first time, and experiencing what it’s like to be a teenager. In this poignant yet ultimately uplifting tale, Sam and his family face the immensity of an uncertain future with love, humor, and a touch of the unexpected.

Heartland Film Festival Partners with The Historic Artcraft Theatre for Two-Day Mini-Festival

Heartland Mini-Festival at The Historic Artcraft TheatreSix films from the 2012 Heartland Film Festival to be showcased over two days, April 19-20, at fan-favorite historic venue in Franklin, Ind. Sponsored by LDI, Ltd.

As a part of the Heartland Roadshow community film series, Heartland Truly Moving Pictures will once again partner with The Historic Artcraft Theatre in Franklin, Ind., to present “Best of the Fest”, a special two-day event that will showcase six of the top inspiring independent films from the 2012 Heartland Film Festival with special Q-and-A sessions with select filmmakers.

All tickets for the April 19-20 screenings are $5 for general admission or $3 for Heartland Film Society or Historic Artcraft Theatre members. Tickets can be purchased at the door or online at

Friday, April 19

  • 7:30 p.m. – All Me: The Life and Times of Winfred Rembert
    2012 Heartland Film Festival Award Winner – Documentary Feature
    A documentary about African-American artist Winfred Rembert, whose paintings depict bigotry in America during the latter part of the 20th century. Director Vivian Ducat will be in attendance for a post-screening Q-and-A session!

    Purchase Tickets

  • 10:00 p.m. – Cairo 678
    2012 Heartland Film Festival $100K Grand Prize for Best Narrative Feature
    The poignant story of three women and their search for justice from the daily plight of sexual harassment in Egypt. Post-screening Q-and-A session with Heartland staff.

    Presented by:
    Global Film Initiative
    Purchase Tickets

Saturday, April 20

  • 2:00 p.m. – Trash Dance
    2012 Heartland Film Festival Award Winner – Documentary Feature
    Sometimes inspiration can be found in unexpected places. Choreographer Allison Orr finds beauty and grace in garbage trucks, and in the men and women who pick up our trash. Director Andrew Garrison will be joining us for a post-screening Q-and-A session via Skype!!

    Purchase Tickets

  • 4:30 p.m. – Starry, Starry Night
    2012 Heartland Film Festival Award Winner – Narrative Feature
    When Mei falls in love with Jay, love at first sight takes hold, providing her fondest childhood memory. Amongst her parents’ divorce and bickering and her grandfather’s death, Mei finds solace in Jay even as they begin a perilous journey into the mountainous wilderness to find her grandparents’ home. As they venture into the starry, starry night, they get lost in a storm that leads them towards a greater destination. Post-screening Q-and-A session with Heartland staff.

    Purchase Tickets

  • 7:30 p.m. – Saints & Soldiers: Airborne Creed
    2012 Heartland Film Festival Official Selection – Narrative Feature
    On August 15, 1944 the 517th Parachute Regimental Combat Team (PRCT) jumped over the south of France. Their mission was to support and protect the Allied Troops marching to Berlin. Landing in enemy territory, they fell under immediate attack. In their effort to complete the mission and rendezvous with their unit, three isolated paratroopers come across a group of French resistants in desperate need. They decide to help liberate some of the captive Partisans. Doing so they will risk their lives.
    Executive Producer Adam Abel will be joining us for a post-screening Q-and-A session via Skype!

    Purchase Tickets

  • 10:00 p.m. – Not That Funny
    2012 Heartland Film Festival Official Selection – Narrative Feature
    A love story about a woman who “just wants someone who makes her laugh” and a man who is not that funny. As he tries to learn how to be the man she says she wants, they each find an unexpected chance at happiness. Director Lauralee Farrer will Skype in for a post-screening Q-and-A!

    Purchase Tickets

    Not That Funny

About The Historic Artcraft Theatre
Built in 1922 as a silent movie theater and Vaudeville house, the Artcraft Theatre was built complete with an orchestra pit and full stage with dressing rooms below. It was renovated in 1936 when Trueman Rembusch purchased the building and again in 1948 when the classic Art Deco streamlining and neon were added. The Artcraft Theatre remains one of the most intact Art Deco movie houses in central Indiana and is listed on the Indiana State Register of Historic Places. For more information, visit

HFF Interview: Julian Higgins

The 2012 Heartland Film Festival is underway. We thought we’d step back a year and collect some insight from Julian Higgins, director of the Vision Award for Best Short Film winner, Thief.

Julian Higgins is a Los Angeles-based writer and director. Originally from New Hampshire, he received a BFA in Film from Emerson College and an MFA in Directing from the world-famous American Film Institute.

His AFI thesis film,  “Thief” – inspired by little-known events in the early life of Saddam Hussein – won the Narrative Gold Medal at the 2011 Student Academy Awards, as well as Best Drama and Best Director honors at the 2011 Student Emmy Awards. “Thief” also won the AFI’s Franklin J. Schaffner Fellow Award, the Vision Award for Best Short Film at the 2011 Heartland Film Festival, the Angelus Film Festival’s Triumph of the Spirit Award and 22 other prizes.  The film is currently playing festivals internationally.

On the strength of the film, Emmy-winning producer-director Greg Yaitanes invited Julian to shadow him during the final season of the acclaimed television drama series “House”.  Julian directed episode #15 of the season, which aired on April 2, 2012. In order to direct the episode, Julian used his 2011 Heartland Film Festival prize money toward his Directors Guild of America fees.

Follow @filmjulian on Twitter and check out

Heartland: What are some films you consider to be truly moving pictures?

Julian Higgins: Let me start by saying that I absolutely believe movies can change our lives. Not every movie does, of course, but it’s possible. Art is about change. Great films make you consider your own world in a new way, make you feel something new, make you see things in a new light… effectively, they make you into a new person. So for me, calling a film “truly moving” is a very good choice of words: you go into the theater one way and you come out changed. You can’t ever go back to the way you were before. Ironically, when movies deal with the darkness of the world and life’s most difficult struggles, they can make us feel so full of hope. In that vein, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly is one of the most truly moving films I’ve ever seen. It’s astonishing that a story about a tragically paralyzed man can also be a story about the pure joy of being alive. It’s a beautiful piece of work, and a real inspiration to me as a filmmaker.

Heartland: What have your experiences winning at Heartland and other festivals taught you about being a director?

We took a lot of risks making the film, and even though the subject matter is very foreign, the process of creating it was a personal and organic one. So it was an incredible validation to see how well the film was received.  I think “Thief” was a very full and honest expression of my voice as a filmmaker – that’s exactly the kind of work I hope to make throughout my career. I’m still a young director and there is still so much for me to learn, but now I can push forward confidently now that I’ve learned there’s an enthusiastic audience for the kind of stories I want to tell. That is priceless. Read more »

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

Interview with 2011 Festival Award-winning Director Afarin Eghbal

Recently we chatted with Afarin Eghbal, director of 2011 Jimmy Stewart Crystal Heart award-winning short, Abuelas. We discussed her film’s journey over the last year, and what her involvement with Heartland has meant to her personally and as a filmmaker. It’s such a reward to hear from filmmakers throughout the world who embrace our organization and its impact on film and culture with unbridled enthusiasm.

Abuelas, an animated documentary student short, looked different than other films Afarin had seen and her lingering thought upon completion was, “What if this is wrong?” Once out of school she kept her film safely tucked away, hesitant to submit it to the festival circuit. Four months after she graduated a friend asked her about the festivals to which she’d submitted. When Afarin admitted her reluctance to share Abuelas, her friend told her to forget her ego, reminding her that she’d made a promise to tell the story of the abuelas. If only one person learned about the impact of Argentina’s Dirty War, the film would have done its job

When Eghbal first discovered the story of Argentina’s Dirty War in college, she was shocked to learn that these atrocities occurred in her lifetime, yet she’d heard nothing about them. And so she set out to make an awareness film that would appeal to her peers in an engaging way. Using real-life testimonials of the grandmothers she interviewed in Argentina, this animated documentary raises issues of memory, repression and loss.

Though Afarin’s goal was to inform her peers about the Abuelas story, her film has grown beyond that audience and traveled the world, spanning age, culture and background. With each new screening the story of the Abuelas has grown within society’s collective memory, ensuring that history won’t repeat itself. Thanks to Afarin’s film, when Jorge Rafael Videla, former senior commander in the Argentine Army and the de facto President of Argentina during the Dirty War, was sentenced to life in prison in July 2012 for the systematic kidnapping of children during the Dirty War, his sentence resonated more loudly. Afarin’s film didn’t play a part in the conviction, but the voice her film gave to a buried history proves that one film can make a difference.

But Afarin submitted Abuelas and was accepted to Heartland well before her film found wild success in the festival circuit. What prompted Afarin to submit to Heartland was its mission to inspire filmmakers and audiences through the transformative power of film, which is what she’d set her heart on accomplishing in making this film. Heartland was one of the first festivals to accept her film and helped pave the way for nearly 100 other festivals to accept Abuelas. Afarin praised Heartland for its careful curation of great films from all over the world and setting a bar so high that other film festivals have to take note.

While Afarin felt a connection to Heartland before she she even submitted her film, her love and appreciation of it grew once Abuelas was accepted to the Festival and she attended in 2011. From the moment she stepped off the plane she was overwhelmed by the generous spirit that permeated every aspect of the Festival. From being greeted and embraced by the volunteers (over 700 strong) and then seeing the names of national and community sponsors and donors connected to each film, she realized how dedicated Heartland’s supporters are to amplifying and encouraging the voice of independent filmmakers.

In our conversation with Afarin, her voice constantly underlined the word generosity. All of her Heartland experiences seemed to come back to that giving spirit. She emphasized that those who give their resources and time to the Festival produce waves of impact that promoting a cycle of positive feedback and energy among the filmmakers and audiences, making Heartland an experience that can’t be replicated anywhere else. It’s what we continually hear from Afarin and other filmmakers about Heartland’s impact — it’s more than simply a film festival, it truly is a an organization that has cultural impact through inspiring filmmakers and audiences through the transformative power of film.

Heartland Film Festival Announces Select Films at Sneak Peek Event

At last night’s annual fundraiser at the Old National Centre, Heartland Truly Moving Pictures announced the titles of several films that will be screened during this year’s 21st Annual Heartland Film Festival, October 18-27 in Indianapolis. A record-breaking 1,240 films were submitted from all over the world – a 45 percent increase over last year. Across the four categories (Narrative Features, Documentary Features, Short Films, High School Film Competition), 118 films have been chosen to screen this year.

Among the events announced last night are:

Opening Night Event: High Ground
Thursday, Oct. 18, The Toby at Indianapolis Museum of Art

For the first time in Heartland’s history, a documentary will open the Festival. Don Hahn, past Heartland filmmaker and Academy Award-nominated producer of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King, will bring his latest documentary to Heartland. The film tells the inspiring story of injured veterans who climb a mountain in the Himalayas. Heartland will partner with local veteran groups to celebrate our heroes in the Armed Forces. Don Hahn and several of the veterans featured in the film are scheduled to attend.

Family Movie Event: 3 Day Test
Sunday, Oct. 21, AMC Castleton Square 14

Actor/director Corbin Bernsen will return to Heartland for the third year in a row with his new family comedy.

Closing Night Event: Under African Skies
Saturday, Oct. 27, The Toby at Indianapolis Museum of Art

Celebrating the 25th anniversary of the release of Paul Simon’s Graceland album, this documentary places the album in its tumultuous context both in South Africa and the United States. Enlightening and uplifting, the film will leave audiences ready to celebrate. The Closing Night Party will start immediately after the film at the Jazz Kitchen.

Feature films announced include:

The Citizen
A narrative feature starring Khaled Nabawy, Agnes Bruckner, Cary Elwes and Bill Atherton will see its North American Premiere on Monday, October 22 during the Festival. A Q&A with cast and crew will follow the screening.

A documentary feature detailing the difficulties of international adoption and featuring local couple Lori and Nick Leroy.

Mariachi Gringo
A narrative feature about a young man from Kansas who pursues his dream of becoming a mariachi player in Mexico.

Not That Funny
A narrative feature starring Tony Hale (“Arrested Development”) as a man desperately trying to be funny to impress a woman.

Rising From Ashes
A documentary feature detailing the rise of Team Rwanda, the country’s first cycling team.

The Big Picture: Rethinking Dyslexia
A documentary feature from returning filmmaker James Redford that explores dyslexia and its impact on people’s lives.

The complete lineup of films will be unveiled during Heartland’s Announcement Celebration on September 18. The event will be free but limited to members of the Heartland Film Society, a new membership program that allows Heartland fans to be part of the Festival like never before. Members will have the opportunity to purchase advance tickets at the Announcement Celebration; tickets will be available to the general public starting September 24.

“With 118 films from around the world and five exciting special events, we are continuing to introduce audiences to high quality independent films and the filmmakers who made them. These films will change the way audiences look at the world,” said Tim Irwin, Artistic Director for Heartland Truly Moving Pictures. “We couldn’t be more thrilled with this year’s lineup, the filmmakers who will be visiting Indianapolis and the impact each of these films will have on our audiences.”

Heartland will award more than $135,000 in cash prizes to this year’s winners, including the $100,000 Grand Prize for Best Narrative Feature, the $25,000 Grand Prize for Best Documentary Feature and the $10,000 Vision Award for Best Short Film.

HTMP Announces New Location for 2012 Heartland Film Festival

This year, with a record-breaking 1,240 film submissions, the 21st Annual Heartland Film Festival will feature more movie choices than ever before. The selection committee reviewed each film and has selected the “best of the best” in new, independent films from all over the world that will move and inspire people, and change the way they look at the world.

“Looking at everything that was submitted this year, and making some very difficult decisions, I can honestly say that we have the best line-up of films in our history,” said Tim Irwin, Artistic Director for Heartland Truly Moving Pictures. “This year, our film selections exhibit the creativity, passion and imagination of filmmakers from around the world.”

After hosting the Heartland Film Festival on the south and north sides of Indianapolis for several years, Heartland Truly Moving Pictures announced today that it will move from the south side to the northwest side for the 21st Annual Heartland Film Festival. Films will continue to be shown at AMC Castleton Square 14 and now in its new location, AMC Traders Point 12. The 10-day festival will take place October 18-27. The decision, which organizers believe will increase opportunities for festival-goers, was made after the organization struggled to increase ticket sales and revenue in its south side venue, making it impossible to financially sustain a south side presence.

“Leaving the south side was an extremely difficult decision for us, but we needed to choose a location that could be financially sustainable and easily accessible off the highway from all parts of town.,” said Louise Henderson, Vice President of Operations for Heartland Truly Moving Pictures. “We hope that both new audiences and existing fans of the Festival will find both locations to be attractive and convenient options.”

Film enthusiasts who can’t wait until the October Festival can attend the August 23 Sneak Peek fundraising event. The event will feature several previews of this year’s films, a live auction and an opportunity for donors to become a part of the Festival’s success. All proceeds from the evening benefit Heartland Truly Moving Pictures.

What: Heartland Festival Film Sneak Peek
When: Thursday, August 23, 5:30-8:30 p.m.
Where: The Old National Centre, Corinthian Room, 502 N. New Jersey St.
Cost: Tickets $85 per person; VIP Tickets $750 for a group of six (Limited to 10 Packages)
Buy Sneak Peek Event Tickets

Thanks to Lou Harry for posting the news at the IBJ A&E blog.

Catch an Advance Research Screening of HFF Award Winner Ways to Live Forever at the Historic Artcraft Theatre!

Join us this Thursday, August 16 at 7:30 p.m. for:

Best of the Fest: An Occasional Film Series at the Historic Artcraft Theatre – Franklin, IN

Heartland Truly Moving Pictures and World Wide Motion Pictures Corporation present an advance research screening of the award-winning family film Ways to Live Forever. The film is about Sam, who loves facts. Sam wants to know about UFOs and horror movies and airships and ghosts and scientists, and how it feels to kiss a girl. And because he has leukemia he wants to know the facts about dying. Sam needs answers to the questions nobody will answer.

Ways to Live Forever was a 2010 Heartland Film Festival Official Selection and Audience Choice Winner. Don’t miss your chance to see a Heartland Film Festival favorite in this historic, fan-favorite venue! As an advance research screening audience member you will have the opportunity to provide valuable input to the studio at the film expands into a wider release!

To coincide with the film, a volunteer from the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society will be at the event to answer questions and to share how you can help those with leukemia.

Click here to download the event flyer.

Cost: $5Purchase tickets

Check out video from our last event at the Historic Artcraft Theatre:

Heartland Film Festival Voted Top Film Fest in NUVO’s Best of Indy 2012 Guide

Great films matter. Their impact on society is real–and desperately needed. We believe in the power of movies because we’ve seen what they can do.

Thank you, NUVO readers, for voting us Indy’s best film festival for the 13th consecutive year!

The 2012 Heartland Film Festival is right around the corner. Mark your calendars for October 18-27!

Check out the rest of the best by visiting NUVO’s Best of Indy 2012 website.

Updates on Waste Land, Red Dog

Waste Land – Jardim Gramacho Landfill Closes

2010 Heartland Truly Moving Picture Award-winner Waste Land follows renowned artist Vik Muniz as he journeys from his home in Brooklyn to his native Brazil and the world’s largest garbage dump. At Jardim Gramacho, located on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro, Muniz photographs an eclectic band of catadores, self-designated pickers of recyclable materials. Muniz’s initial objective was to “paint” the catadores with garbage. However, his collaboration with these inspiring characters as they re-create photographic images of themselves out of garbage reveals both dignity and despair as the catadores begin to re-imagine their lives.

In the film, Muniz helped a handful of these catadores reimagine their lives through art. Now everyone who relied on Jardim Gramacho must reimagine their lives through the closing of the landfill. The catadores’ home and source of livelihood was closed on the weekend of June 2-3 by the local government. All trash is now being redirected to Seropedica, Rio de Janeiro’s next-generation dump. Roughly 1,700 strong, the catadores will receive a lump-sum payout and job training, but their future is still a big unknown. Read more at Yahoo! Finance.

Red Dog – Film Picked Up for North American Distribution

2011 Heartland Film Festival Grand Prize Award winner for Best Narrative Feature, Red Dog, continues its already successful post-festival run. The Australian film has been picked up for North American distribution by ARC Entertainment.

Based on a legendary true story, Red Dog tells the tale of a hitchhiking hound that united a remote mining community while roaming the Australian outback in search of his long lost master in the 1970′s. Read more at Screen Daily.

Cast Me if You Can hits DVD this week!

Presented at the 2010 Heartland Film Festival, Official Selection, Cast Me If You Can, a charming romantic comedy set in Tokyo, written and directed by Atsushi Ogata, was released on DVD on Tuesday!

Cast Me If You Can tells the story of Hiroshi, a perpetual supporting actor, living in the shadow of his famous playwright father, who gets cast in a Woody Allen remake, meets his muse, falls in love and learns to play the lead in his own life.

Head to Amazon to purchase the DVD today!

Festival Award Winner Picks Up BAFTA Nom!

We always get excited when nominations are announced to see if any Heartland-honored films from the past year are recognized. We get especially jazzed when it’s a Festival film! This morning as we scoured the BAFTA nominations, we were so excited to see Heartland Film Festival Award winning short, Abuelas, nominated for Short Animations! We send lots of love to director and friend Afarin Eghbal!

Abuelas Dir. Afarin Eghbal

Also recognized with nominations was Truly Moving Picture Award winner, The Help, with fives noms including Best Film and Octavia Spencer for Best Supporting Actress. She just scored the Golden Globe this past weekend for the same role so we’ll see if her momentum keeps going. Fellow Golden Globe winner Christopher Plummer was honored with a Best Supporting Actor nomination for his work in TMPA winner, Beginners.

We wish all nominees best of luck!

Click here for a complete listing of 2012 BAFTA nominations.

HFF Night at the JCC: Round 2!

In April of this year, we held our very first HFF Night at the JCC with our friends at the Arthur M. Glick JCC. We’re partnering up again for another HFF Night at the JCC during their annual Festival of Books and Arts. Once again, we’ll show three shorts straight from the 2011 Heartland Film Festival (listed below) AND one of the filmmakers will be present and we’ll Skype in the filmmakers following each film for a brief Q&A. Remember that as you watch the film and get those questions ready!

Event Information
Date: Saturday, November 19, 2011
Time: 7 pm
Ticket Prices: $5 general public / $3 JCC members

Tickets may be purchased in advance at, at the JCC or by calling (317) 251-9467. Tickets will be sold at the door. Hope you can join us!

Two Life
Animated Short | Heartland Film Festival Official Selection

Two Life
is a magical love story that takes place during the hundred year life of an upscale department store in the heart of New York City. Two mannequins, Matt and Molly, find themselves pulled apart from the bustle of human interaction, but their love grows to conquer their distance.

Director Paul Symon is scheduled to attend the event.

Sun City Picture House
Documentary Short | Audience Choice Award Winner

Sun City Picture House
is the story of Rapheal Louigene a young Haitian man who loves movies. After watching the last of the old colonial movie theaters destroyed in the earthquake he enlists the help of a priest and two young aid workers to build Haiti’s only movie theater on a hill above a tent city. Sun City Picture House is a joyful and moving story of a community torn apart by disaster then united in a singular vision of bringing back cinema to a country destroyed.

Director David Darg & producer Bryn Mooser are scheduled to join us via Skype.

Narrative Short | Vision Award for Best Short

An Iraqi man’s childhood memories return to haunt him when a mysterious stranger visits his isolated hut.

Director Julian Higgins is scheduled to join us via Skype.

Crime After Crime to make television debut on OWN!

Winner of the 2011 Best Documentary Feature and the Audience Choice Award, Crime After Crime is making its world wide television debut on the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) next Thursday November 3 at 9 PM/8 PM Central!

The film, produced and directed by Yoav Potash, is the exclusive documentary on the dramatic legal battle to free Debbie Peagler, a woman imprisoned for over a quarter century due to her connection to the murder of the man who abused her. She finds her only hope for freedom when two rookie attorneys with no background in criminal law step forward to take her case.

The film aims to not only move audiences but also to spark change. When the film was first shown at the Sundance Film Festival in January, California was the lone state with a law allowing incarcerated survivors of abuse to petition for their freedom. Now organizers in at least five other states are using the film to advocate for similar reforms, with New Yorks proposed Domestic Violence Survivors Justice Act leading the pack.

Crime After Crime is channeling this movement through Debbies Campaign, a nonprofit project to help prevent domestic violence and wrongful incarceration. As part of Debbies Campaign, the filmmaker and OWN have prepared a Home Viewing & Community Action Guide, encouraging families, houses of worship, domestic violence organizations, and many other community groups to view the film together.

For more information visit the Crime After Crime Official Site and the OWN Official Site.

Crystal Heart Award Winner headed to theaters!

After a solid run at the 2011 Heartland Film Festival, The Hammer hits theaters Thursday October 27!  This Crystal Heart Award winner won over Festival goers with the story of Matt Hamill, the first deaf wrestler to win a National Collegiate Championship. Raised among those with the ability to hear, Matt later finds himself no less an outsider amidst the Deaf Community. Through sheer determination, he uses his perceived disability as an asset to beat the odds.

With screenings all over the country, there’s bound to be a location near you. Head to The Hammer Official Website for screening locations.

Highlights from the 2011 Heartland Film Festival

Now that the dust has settled a little, we have some time to think back and reflect on the past 10 days. So many memories were created and we have a lot to celebrate as we move forward into our 21st year:

•    127 filmmakers and special guests were on hand for this year’s festival.  Many of them recognized Indianapolis as one of the best film festivals in the world, crediting the talent of the team, Hoosier hospitality and the passion and commitment of everyone involved.

•    Actor Martin Sheen and actor-director son Emilio Estevez were on hand for the Heartland Film Festival debut of their movie The Way.

•    Kurt Kuenne, director of the fan favorite Validation, returned to Heartland with his feature length film, Shuffle. Actor TJ Thyne was at the closing event to interact with moviegoers.

•    Well-known directors, such as Angelo Pizzo (Hoosiers, Rudy) and Corbin Bernsen (Psych), were in attendance throughout the Festival.

•    More than 60 sponsors contributed to the success and growth of the 20th annual Heartland Film Festival.

•    The Festival raised more than $20,000, with philanthropic dollars continuing to come in following the event.

These are just a few of our highlights. What were some of yours?

2011 HFF Audience Choice Award Winners: The people have spoken!

After a tight race for the past 10 days, we finally have our Audience Choice Award winners! Congratulations to all!

Audience Choice Award – Narrative Feature

Red Dog

It’s night in the Western Australian outback, a dying dog lies in the backroom of the town’s only pub. Slowly, as word spreads, the local community gathers at the pub. Part vigil, part wake, part celebration, they swap stories of Red Dog’s epic life, travels and his rise to fame.

Audience Choice Award – Documentary Feature

Crime After Crime

Crime After Crime
tells the dramatic story of the legal battle to free Debbie Peagler, an incarcerated survivor of domestic violence. Over 26 years in prison could not crush the spirit of this determined African-American woman, despite the wrongs she suffered, first at the hands of a duplicitous boyfriend who beat her and forced her into prostitution, and later by prosecutors who used the threat of the death penalty to corner her into a life behind bars for her connection to the murder of her abuser.

Audience Choice Award – Short

Sun City Picture House

Sun City Picture House is the story of Rapheal Louigene a young Haitian man who loves movies. After watching the last of the old colonial movie theaters destroyed in the earthquake he enlists the help of a priest and two young aid workers to build Haiti’s only movie theater on a hill above a tent city.

Leymah Gbowee Wins 2011 Nobel Peace Prize!

We are so excited to announce that Leymah Gbowee has been awarded the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize. Gbowee is one of the featured individuals in 2008 Heartland Film Festival Award winner for Best Documentary, Pray the Devil Back to Hell. She is jointly awarded with Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Tawakkul Karman for their non-violent activism towards women’s rights and safety.

After seeing the effects of war first hand as a trauma counselor, Gbowee lead a group of women – spanning different religions – to Liberia’s Presidential Palace to put the pressure on Charles Taylor to continue stalled peace talks. After receiving a promise from Taylor that he would attend the peace talks in Ghana, she continued the pressure by following him with a group of women to ensure the talks continue. Today, Gbowee is the founder and executive director for Women, Peace and Security Network Africa (WIPSEN-A) a women-focused, women-led Pan-African Non-Governmental Organization with the core mandate to promote women’s strategic participation and leadership in peace and security governance in Africa.

Please join us and our friends at Pray the Devil Back to Hell in congratulating Leymah Gbowee and the other winners!

Full release from The Norwegian Nobel Committee

The Way to Open the 2011 Heartland Film Festival!

As our first annual Heartland Film Festival Sneak Peek fundraiser was winding down last Thursday, we announced our Opening Night Event film, The Way, written and directed by Emilio Estevez and starring Martin Sheen. Even more exciting than the announcement of the film was the announcement that Estevez and Sheen are scheduled to attend the event on October 13!

The Way follows Tom (Sheen), an American doctor who comes to St. Jean Pied de Port, France to collect the remains of his adult son (Estevez) who was killed in the Pyrenees in a storm while walking “El Camino de Santiago”, or The Way of Saint James. Rather than return home, Tom decides to embark on the historic pilgrimage to honor his son’s desire to finish the journey.

“Martin and I are thrilled and honored to be opening this year’s Heartland Film Festival with The Way,” said Estevez. “The Way is a movie that pushes back against the tide of cynicism and despair that many people in our country are feeling these days. The film celebrates what is missing for so many: community, family and faith. We are proud and excited to share it with the folks in Indiana at this awesome and important film festival.”

In addition to announcing the Opening Night Event we gave folks in attendance a small preview of what’s to come this year by showing trailers for Hamill, Crime After Crime and Two Life. You’ll have to wait until the Announcement Celebration on September 20 when we announce the award winners to see how they did in the screening process. We’ve gotta keep a few things a surprise for that night. :)

We can’t be more excited to share this film with you as well! Tickets for the Opening Night Event (and all other 2011 Heartland Film Festival screenings and events) go on sale September 21. Hope to see you there!

A Chance to Win Sneak Peek Tickets!

It’s still a few months away, but we’re excited to be making the first of many announcements at the 2011 Heartland Film Festival Sneak Peek Fundraiser tomorrow night in Indianapolis! Not only are we announcing the Opening Night Event film and guests as well as showing a few glimpses into this year’s Festival, but we’re also be raising money to continue promoting positive change in people’s lives through the transformative power of film.

Tickets are no longer available to purchase, but don’t worry! Thanks to 2 generous donors and volunteers we have 2 tickets to give away (Thanks, Brian & Louise!). Enter to win by leaving a comment on this blog post below with your favorite Festival memory. Never attended the Festival? Leave a comment below explaining what Heartland means to you. Hurry! You only have until 5 P.M. today (Wednesday 8/24)! A winner will randomly be selected to win at that time. Good Luck!

Click here for more 2011 Heartland Film Festival Sneak Peek Fundraiser details!

858 film submissions? Woah, baby!

The 2011 Heartland Film Festival hasn’t even started and we’ve already broken a record! We’re so excited to have received a record number of film entries totaling 858 submissions, surpassing our previous record of 832 set last year.

“It’s so encouraging to once again see such an overwhelming number of film submissions pour in from all over the world,” said Ray Mills, our Festival Artistic Director. “What’s even more exciting is that the quality of films we received this year is higher than ever.”

Filmmakers from 43 countries and territories submitted their narrative, documentary and short films to Heartland in competition for more than $150,000 in cash prizes, one of the highest purse prizes of film festivals in the world. Foreign submissions represented Australia, China, India, Japan, Mexico and Puerto Rico, among others. Of the 858 films submitted, 163 of them were from student filmmakers, which is up 40
percent from last year.

“It’s been amazing to see the Festival grow in terms of submissions, screenings and audience and filmmaker attendance in the last few years,” said Mills. “We decided to cut back on our marketing and outreach for submissions this year and still received a record number of entries. I think this is a testament to our reputation in the industry.”

We’re looking forward to announcing the award winners on September 20! Stay tuned!

New Marketing Volunteer Opportunities at Heartland!

It’s hard to believe that it’s August already! For all of us at the offices, August is actually when we joke that the Festival really begins. It seems like everything after August 1 is just a blur as we prepare for 10 days of amazing film! Since we’re getting so close to “crunch time” we are also in need of some volunteers that are passionate about spreading the good news about Heartland – both for the Festival and for our year-round programming!

The Festival Street Team
As you may or may not know, we have had a group of awesome volunteers that have helped us distribute materials to surrounding businesses and organizations. Although this has been a great success, we decided to change up the format this year to get even more people interested in helping out! This year, we are looking to assemble 5 teams – 1 for each area of Indianapolis (north, south, east, west, downtown) to help us pass out materials to local businesses and organizations. We’re specifically looking for people that are passionate about their neighborhood and are connected to all the tiny niche businesses in the area!

Heartland Ambassadors
A completely new program this year, the Heartland Ambassador team will be a crafted group of extra awesome people who can and love to speak eloquently about Heartland Truly Moving Pictures. This group will go through a brief training process and be provided materials needed to speak publicly to groups around the city about getting excited and involved in Heartland. Each member will be challenged to make significant connections with surrounding organizations and people that want to support all that we do. As this program is a bit more beefy, stay tuned as we roll out the details over the coming months. (probably post-festival, if I’m honest!) :)

Heartland Advocacy Managers
Alright national Heartland lovers, this one’s for you! This amazing bunch will focus on utilizing our discussion guides and curricula to host screenings and discussion groups in their home or any other place in which they have easy access. This particular group will be all over the country and communicate frequently with me on the latest guides as well as what’s happening with Heartland so that they can help us to spread the word. Similar to the Ambassador program, this group will also go through a training process and be provided with appropriate materials to best educate their audiences getting involved with Heartland. Stay tuned for more on this one as well!

Heartland Bloggers
If you’re reading this then there’s a good possibility that you are as passionate as we are about social communication! Your very own Allison Ackmann will be heading up a group of word-savvy folks to help us raise awareness of the films at this year’s Festival. That’s right. These folks actually get to watch films early! If you can prove to use that you are an avid writer and blogger and especially if you have a happenin’ blog yourself, then let’s talk!

If you are interested in any of these positions, please take a few moments to fill out the volunteer registration form on our site indicating your interest. We’ll be finalizing the teams for the Festival Street Team and Blogger groups in the next week or two. For the other groups, you have a bit more time.

If you have any questions about these positions please email me or give me a call at 317.464.9405! These groups are very important to our ongoing outreach for Heartland and I truly hope you consider joining the marketing team! (Plus, we’re definitely the coolest people in the office to work with).

Katie Pellerin, Strategic Marketing Manager

A Sneak Peek Inside the 2011 Heartland Film Festival!

Liza Najem, Co-chair of the Sneak Peek Fundraiser and Member of the Board of Governors

Like so many other local residents, I had heard about the Heartland Film Festival through word-of-mouth and local media. But in 2006, I was invited by friends to attend the annual Gala where independent filmmakers from around the world are honored for artistically exploring the human journey. Needless to say, I was awestruck! The Heartland Film Festival is not like other film festivals. This festival focuses on films that, in my opinion, are culture changers.

I was inspired and moved by the stories told and the power theses independent films had to evoke emotion, thought and dialogue. Had I not attended that unforgettable event, I would have never been aware of the inspiring and moving feature films, shorts and documentaries that Heartland Truly Moving Pictures brings to Indianapolis each October over a ten-day period.

Last year my personal favorites were The 5th Quarter, Waste Land and Thunder Soul. This year promises to be another amazing year with another record-breaking year of festival entries. And best of all, for the first year in its 20 year history, you can get a Sneak Peek of what is to come!

It is an honor to chair the first-ever public Heartland Film Festival Sneak Peek Fundraiser with my good friend Jenny Godby, who introduced me to Heartland back in 2006, and an amazing committee of Heartland volunteers. Because Heartland Truly Moving Pictures is a non-profit arts organization, it is important to remember that annual Heartland Film Festival is not possible without the ongoing generous support from our supporters.

We have a lot in store for you on Thursday, August 25 including an insider’s look at the 2011 Heartland Film Festival from President & CEO, Jeffrey L. Sparks; a opportunity to meet and discuss filmmaking with special guests Angelo Pizzo, producer/writer of Hoosiers and Rudy as well as David Anspaugh, director of Rudy. In addition, you will have the opportunity to bid on great packages at our live auction including a week stay at “The Monkey Cottage” in Sun Valley, Idaho; a one-week stay at an oceanfront condo in Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico; a private screening party; a 2011 Film Festival Grand Ticket Package; and, a jam-packed Indy Arts Package.

As we celebrate the many accomplishments from the past 20 years and look forward to an exciting future, we invite you to take a journey with us from past to present to future. If you believe in promoting positive change in people’s lives through the transformative power of film, this is your chance to join us in shaping Heartland’s future. We invite you to bring new friends who love film and believe in the transformative power of film.

Thursday, August 25
5:30-8:30 PM
Mavris Arts & Event Center

$95 per person
$1,000 Entourage Package for 10

Click here for more information or to purchase tickets

See you there,
Liza Najem

Wondering what The Monkey Cottage is? Check it out!
*monkeys not included.

Dumbstruck Coming Soon to Theaters!

Dumbstruck, a quirky documentary focusing on five ventriloquists, opens in theaters April 15. With its heart firmly planted on its polyester sleeve, this 2010 HFF Official Selection takes the American dream sideways and never loses its way.

Head to the Dumbstruck Official Website for up-to-date release schedule!

5 Ways to Embrace Heartland this Spring!

With spring upon us, the Heartland Truly Moving Pictures staff is feeling the need to celebrate! Whether you are a filmmaker or a film enthusiast, here are five ways you can celebrate great filmmaking this spring.

Join us in person or via live stream for The Life of a Motion Designer with Brian Phillips filmmaking workshop in April.

Filmmaking Workshop

Head to theatres to catch TMPA winners
Jane Eyre, Born to be Wild and The Conspirator.



Call for Entries for the 2011 Heartland Film Festival open March 31.


Be Inspired
See how the Heartland Film Festival helped filmmaker Kurt Kuenne change a law in Canada

Support and encourage inspiring filmmakers like Kurt Kuenne by giving $25 to Heartland Truly Moving Pictures today


Thank you for your continued support. We look forward to presenting you with more opportunities to celebrate film all year!

Heartland Film Festival Night at the JCC

The JCC and Heartland Truly Moving Pictures are partners in an indie-film lovers program on Saturday, April 16, at the Arthur M. Glick JCC, 6701 Hoover Road, Indianapolis. The Heartland Film Festival Night at the JCC will present three award-winning 2010 Festival shorts followed by a unique opportunity to discuss the films with each filmmaker through a live video chat.

Event Information
Date: Saturday, April 16, 2011
Time: 7 pm
Ticket Prices: $5 general public / $3 JCC members

Tickets may be purchased in advance at, at the JCC or by calling (317) 251-9467. Tickets will be sold at the door.


God of Love

Student Dramatic Short / 18 min
Directed and written by Luke Matheny.

The Road Home

Student Dramatic Short / 21 min / partially in Hindi with English subtitles
Produced and directed by Rahul Gandotra.

Waiting for a Train: The Toshio Hirano Story

Student Documentary Short / 20 min
Produced and directed by Oscar Bucher.

83rd Annual Academy Awards: Winners and Highlights

Hollywood’s big night has come and gone once again and we’re so excited for all of the TMPA and Festival winners and nominees!

Our #1 TMPA of 2010, The King’s Speech, was the big winner of the evening taking home Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor and Best Original Screenplay. (Have you heard our interview with Best Director winner Tom Hooper?)

Toy Story 3 charmed the Academy and took home Best Animated Feature Film and Best Original Song for “We Belong Together”.

The most pleasant surprise of the evening was 2010 HFF Award Winner, God of Love, winning for Live Action Short film. Filmmaker Luke Matheny charmed the crowd with one of the most heart-felt and humorous acceptance speeches of the evening. Watch below!

Congratulations to all the other nominees including Winter’s Bone, Rabbit Hole, How to Train Your Dragon, Sun Come Up and Waste Land!

83rd Annual Academy Award Winners

Best Picture
The King’s Speech

Actor in a Leading Role
Colin Firth – The King’s Speech

Actor in a Supporting Role
Christian Bale – The Fighter

Actress in a Leading Role
Natalie Portman – Black Swan

Actress in a Supporting Role
Melissa Leo – The Fighter

Animated Feature Film
Toy Story 3

Art Direction
Alice in Wonderland


Costume Design
Alice in Wonderland

Tom Hooper – The King’s Speech

Documentary Feature
Inside Job

Documentary Short
Strangers No More

Film Editing
The Social Network

Foreign Language Film
In a Better World

The Wolfman

Original Score
The Social Network

Original Song
“We Belong Together” – Toy Story 3

Animated Short Film
The Lost Thing

Live Action Short Film
God of Love

Sound Editing

Sound Mixing

Visual Effects

Adapted Screenplay
The Social Network

Original Screenplay
The King’s Speech

Festival Filmmaker Changes Law in Canada

Kurt Kuenne on the set of his latest film Shuffle.

I first crossed paths with the Heartland Film Festival in 2007 when my short film Validation won a Crystal Heart Award as well as the Vision Award for Best Short Film and the Audience Choice Award, all in one whirlwind weekend. When I received the Vision Award, I was astounded that a film festival existed that gave a $10,000 cash prize for Best Short Film and even more astounded that I was the one receiving it.

And it came at a very important time for me. At the time I had been working around the clock without pay for a year, editing and completing a documentary that I wholeheartedly believed in. I had raised enough money to finish the film, but not enough to pay myself, and it would be another nine months before I saw any income for my efforts. That $10,000 cash prize made it possible for me to keep working on my documentary in a focused and efficient manner that allowed me to do my best work without worrying about looking for other paying projects.

That documentary, Dear Zachary: a letter to a son about his father, was released to great acclaim the following year, was picked up by MSNBC for television, Oscilloscope Laboratories for theatrical and DVD release, was named one of the top five documentaries of 2008 by the National Board of Review and was listed as “One of the Year’s 10 Best” by more than 40 film critics. Most importantly, though, when I screened it for Canada’s Parliament the following year, it inspired the creation of Bill C-464, which proposed amending Canada’s bail code to give courts the power to deny bail to someone accused of a serious crime who is deemed a potential danger to children under the age of 18. Bill C-464 finally became law on December 15, 2010.

During the past three years, I’ve received nine letters from people who claim that viewing the documentary made them discard suicide plans and vow to embrace life from that point on. Though they may not have been aware of it at the time, Heartland Truly Moving Pictures helped make all of this possible because their prize money helped me live during the final months of completing this film.

Heartland invited me back in 2008, where I received a Crystal Heart Award from my short film Slow.  The prize money helped me as I was about to dive into work on another year-long film production where I would again be working without pay until the film sold.

Kurt Kuenne on the set of his latest film Shuffle.

Filmmakers working with small budgets, like I’ve been doing for several years now, have to move forward on faith. They often have to make up their minds to dedicate an enormous amount of time to a project without any guarantee of financial compensation in order to will a film into being. If an independent filmmaker were to wait around for someone to pay them for their efforts, their project might never get made at all. Heartland’s support of filmmakers, with incredibly generous cash prizes, has a kind of lasting ripple effect that encourages this creation, and you may never know the full extent of the impact it is having in the world – but rest assured that it is making a powerful dent.

As Heartland Truly Moving Pictures celebrates 20 years, I extend my sincerest thanks to everyone at the Heartland Film Festival for everything they’ve done and I hope you will consider making a gift to this extraordinary and rare organization so they may continue to support filmmakers whose current work shows promise of great cultural contribution, and whose future work just might be of great significance to making people happier the world over…and you will have helped make that possible.


Kurt Kuenne
Validation (HFF 2007), Slow and The Phone Book (HFF 2008)

Give Now

TMPA and Heartland Film Festival Winners Are Now Oscar Nominees!

With the Academy Award nominations announced this morning, we’d like to congratulate the new nominees who received the Truly Moving Picture Award and were award winners at the 2010 Heartland Film Festival!

The big winner is The King’s Speech, which recently topped our list of the Top 10 Truly Moving Picture Award winners of 2010. The King’s Speech received twelve nominations, including Best Picture, Best Director (stay tuned for our interview with director Tom Hooper!), Best Lead Actor (Colin Firth), Best Supporting Actor (Geoffrey Rush), Best Supporting Actress (Helena Bonham Carter) and Best Original Screenplay, among others.

Toy Story 3 received nominations for Best Picture, Best Animated Feature, Best Adapted Screenplay, Sound Editing and Best Original Song, accounting for five total nominations.

How to Train Your Dragon was also nominated in the Best Animated Feature category, and also received a mention for Best Original Score.

Another big name in the nominations is Winter’s Bone, which received four big nominations, including Best Picture, Best Lead Actress (Jennifer Lawrence), Best Supporting Actor (John Hawkes), and Best Adapted Screenplay.

Nicole Kidman received a Best Lead Actress nomination for her powerful role in Rabbit Hole. (Listen to our interview with Rabbit Hole director John Cameron Mitchell!)

Other TMPA-winning nominees include Tangled, nominated for Best Original Song, and Restrepo, which garnered a nod for Best Documentary.

Congratulations are also in order for our Festival winners included in the Academy Award nominations! Festival Crystal Heart Award winner in the documentary feature category Waste Land was nominated alongside Restrepo for Best Documentary Feature, Festival Crystal Heart Award winners Sun Come Up and God of Love were nominated for Best Documentary Short and Best Short Film respectively.

All told, TMPA winners amassed 26 Academy Award nominations, while films that won Festival Awards at last year’s Festival grabbed three total nominations. Congratulations to all of the nominees; we’ll be rooting for you on February 27th! Join us on Twitter during the broadcast for updates and conversation!