The 23rd Annual Heartland Film Festival

Last Saturday, I dusted off my black suit, shined my shoes, tightened my tie, and cruised on over to the Old National Centre’s Egyptian Room. Arm in arm, my wife and I, feeling something like Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, glided gracefully through those golden double-doors and were promptly escorted to our seats at table 5. Quickly we realized that we had some of the best seats in the house as we found ourselves sitting right by the founder of this annual cinematic feast, Heartland Film Festival President Emeritus, Mr. Jeff Sparks. Needless to say, this was shaping up to be quite a night.

We savored each second of the following two hours as the finalists for the categories of best documentary short, best narrative short, best feature-length documentary, and best feature-length narrative were invited to the stage and asked about the production of their respective films. As the audience listened to each filmmaker’s comments regarding his or her work, I began to notice a profound trend. In all their work these filmmakers had attempted to capture the emotional undercurrents of the human experience we so often tend to undermine. They also presented us with stories of hope through biography and fiction in an uncompromising fashion. Uncompromising even to the extent that the films presented didn’t feel tainted by monetary motivation, and were well-made purely for the story’s sake. What a truly moving treasure.

This past Saturday, October 18 marked the 23rd annual Heartland Film Festival Awards Ceremony. The Heartland Film Festival is Indiana’s largest and longest-running independent film festival, and is a true treasure of the Midwest. It is also a qualifying festival for the Annual Academy Awards® within the Short Films category meaning the winner of Grand Prize for Best Narrative Short Film automatically qualifies for consideration at the Annual Academy Awards®.

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From October 16-25 Heartland will showcase more than 130 independent films, and present more than 100 independent filmmakers from around the world. If that isn’t impressive enough by itself, take a look at the 2014 festival numbers:

1,634 total film submission

85 countries from around the world represented

Over $100k in cash prizes

While the Heartland Film Festival Awards Ceremony has come and gone, the festivities are far from over. Be sure to catch at least one of this year's Heartland Film Festival submissions showing through October 25 at one of these local venues:

AMC Castleton Square 14 6020 East 82nd Street – Indianapolis, IN 46250 (Friday, Oct. 17 – Saturday, Oct. 25)

AMC Showplace Traders Point 12 5920 West 86th Street – Indianapolis, IN 46278 (Saturday, Oct. 18 – Saturday, Oct. 25)

The Theatre at the Wheeler Arts Community 1035 Sanders Street #111 – Indianapolis (Fountain Square), IN 46203 (Monday, Oct. 22 – Saturday, Oct. 26)