Indianapolis Heartland Film Festival 2021: The people, the films, the community

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INDIANAPOLIS — This October marks the 30th anniversary of the Indianapolis International Heartland Film Festival.

FOX59 was able to speak with Greg Sorvig, artistic director of Heartland, to hear more about the anniversary, new screening locations and, of course, the talent.

“So this is the 30th anniversary of Heartland. We are so happy to be here. We didn’t know what this year would bring,” said Sorvig.

Greg has been working with Heartland since he was a volunteer and has made his way up to a salaried position. As the artistic director, he is in charge of emailing and calling the film studio contacts he has gathered over the years to see if they want their films to be played at the upcoming festival.

One of this year’s screening sites is the new Living Room Theater located in downtown Indianapolis in the Bottleworks district.

“We knew, very early on, it wasn’t a matter of would we be partners, but when would we be partners. It’s just state-of-the-art virtual technology, additionally, there’s a great bar, great food as well. It’s really a great experience to come out, especially after being stuck in the pandemic,” said Sorvig.

What films to see in theaters and at Heartland Film Fest

Sorvig was especially excited this year due to the fact that Heartland Film was actually the first “movie theater experience” that a lot of these festival-goers have had in a long time.

He said, “I’ve been asking people in the Q and A’s and intros if this is their first time back in the theater and half of the audience is raising their hand.”

There is also a virtual option for showing this year for those who have tight schedules or may be ill.

“We bring these huge movies to Indianapolis every year from huge Hollywood tent poles making their Indiana debut. From movies with Will Smith and Kristen Stewart, all the way to true independent films making their U.S. or world premieres here too,” said Sorvig.

A lot of the films that are shown during the festival are then entered into award nominations. There are cash prizes too. Sorvig told me that Heartland has given $3.5 million to independent filmmakers since 1992.

This makes Heartland the biggest prize-winning film festival in North America.

We also had the privilege of interviewing Seanne Winslow, a Los Angeles-based filmmaker and director/writer of “The Falconer”, which premiered at Heartland Oct. 12.

“The Falconer is inspired by a true life story, Adam (co-director), met a blonde-haired blue-eyed kid when he was working on a documentary in Yemen who is obsessed with helping animals and has become best friends with a local,” Winslow explained.

“The story is really about their friendship,” Winslow said.

She told us that although they weren’t able to film on-location in Yemen due to war and poverty, the crew was able to go on a quest throughout the Middle East to find locations that were similar.

Winslow turned down well-known producers for the script because she wanted it to be hers and she wanted to tell the story herself.

“Our goal was always to tell a story from a place and not about a place. It was about finding a village where we could really work with the locals.”

Rewinding 30 years of Heartland Film Festival

Winslow told us that when she first started in the film business, there were no women role models for her as writers and directors at that point, back in 2008.

“I became a producer because I wanted to learn how to protect myself and other people in order to tell stories that really matter,” said Winslow.

“I think in Hollywood, being a producer as a woman is something that is accepted. You’re a caretaker. You’re someone that’s putting the pieces together in service of someone else’s voice. So I left producing to tell the stories that matter to me,” she explained.

This year, Heartland Film Festival runs Oct. 7-17. For tickets, more information, and to see a sneak peek of Winslow’s ‘The Falconer’, visit Heartland Film Festival’s website.

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