The 32nd Heartland International Film Festival: Highlights of one of the biggest film festivals in the Midwest United States

Indianapolis hosted 120 films at the 32nd Heartland International Film Festival

<p>Courtesy of <a href="" target="_blank">IndyHub</a></p>

Courtesy of IndyHub

From Oct. 5 to Oct. 15, the 32nd Heartland International Film Festival took place in the Indianapolis area. At six theaters, the festival hosted 238 in-person screenings and events of movies that will not be released to the public until later this year. There were also over 6,000 virtual streams of films from the festival.  

There were 120 films screened at the festival, including 22 Special Presentation screenings from major distributors, seven Indiana Spotlight films and 19 World/U.S. premieres. The movies range from Oscar-qualifying to those made by local filmmakers.  

The Heartland International Film Festival was named one of the Top 25 Coolest Film Festivals in the World by MovieMaker Magazine in 2023. The Heartland spinoff, Indy Shorts Film Festival, is also included in the list. This festival premieres during the summer and shows short films from all around the world.

At the festival's end, awards are given out to various films, with cash prizes totaling $60,000. The top prizes went to “Simón” from director Diego Vicentini, “We Dare to Dream'' from Waad al-Kateab and “Hard Miles” from director RJ Daniel Hanna. There are also audience awards that are chosen by those who attended the festival, including  specific audience awards from the Indiana Film Journalists Association (IFJA).  

Some of the major distributor films from the festival include “The Holdovers,” the newest narrative feature from Alexander Payne, “Rustin” from George C. Wolfe starring Oscar-favorite Colman Domingo and “Anatomy of a Fall” by Justine Triet, which was the 2023 Palme d'Or Winner at Cannes. These were a few of the films listed as the festival’s special presentation screenings. 

Films like “Thunder Rolls! The World of Blind Baseball” and “Greener Pastures” represented the Indiana Spotlight section of the festival. “Art & Soul: A Portrait of a Nancy Noel” was the Indiana Spotlight Audience Choice award winner while “Liminal: Indiana in the Anthropocene” won the $2,000 cash prize for Indiana Spotlight.  

Rising actor Paul Mescal appeared in two films at the festival, including Garth Davis's “Foe” and Andrew Haigh’s “All of Us Strangers.” Haigh’s film tied with “The Holdovers” for the IFJA Best Special Presentation award. 

Matthew Modine attended the festival for two exclusive Q&A sessions and to accept the Pioneering Spirit Award. He executive produced “Downwind” and starred in “Hard Miles,” two films that screened at the festival.  

Ben Sears, a member of the IFJA, has attended the festival for the past few years. This year was a particular highlight for him due to the variety of quality films on the slate. 

“Heartland’s always a fun time, but they had a solid mix of narratives, documentaries and special presentations this year,” said Sears. “They always do a great job of mixing truly independent films – films with no recognizable talent and a small budget – with films from established voices.” 

Trevor Stucker (he/him) is a sophomore majoring in Applied Film and Journalism. This is his second year writing for The Campus Citizen.

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