Hollywood and Indiana might have a couple thousand miles between them, but this month’s Heartland International Film Festival is rolling out the red carpet right to the middle of Hoosier country.
For 11 days, HIFF is taking over three theaters and 13 screens across Indianapolis to showcase more than 125 feature films like Boy Erased, Prospect and River Runs Redfrom over 200 filmmakers. Some of the films in the lineup will be shown for the first time at the festival.
“We really strive to give experiences to our audiences including the films that have the power to transform and make them see things differently,” said Christiana Beasley, events manager for Heartland Film.
Beasley hopes the variety of events apart from screenings – like panels, trivia events and the festival’s award celebration Glow – gives attendees and filmmakers alike a well-rounded experience.
Beasley, who works mainly on executing the technical and planning aspects of the festival, has had something of a full plate these past few months. But assistance from companies Proludio and Festily have helped to lighten the load.
Notably absent from this year’s festival is the abundance of short films. Beasley said HIFF had been receiving so many short films in the past (over 70 percent of submissions were short films) that they had to break it off into its own festival called Indy Shorts, which took place in July. Several of the winning shorts will be screened again at HIFF.
“Short films are in such high demand,” Beasley said. “We wanted to make a bigger event for short films highlighting short filmmakers.”
Despite this being Indy Shorts’ inaugural outing, attendance was close to double what the Heartland Film team was expecting.
Beasley said that even among the drastically different genres, each of the festival’s movies ask the audience to “think a little bit deeper.”
“Before I even worked for [HIFF], I really loved that their films were different in the sense that they gave you stories that were completely different from what you were seeing in the theaters,” she said.
Much of that difference comes from the people on both sides of the camera. Independent film has long been ahead of the Hollywood curve with regards to representation; Beasley says HIFF wants to celebrate that with its programming. That includes a large number of foreign films and programs like the Easterseals Disability Film Challenge, which highlights filmmakers with disabilities.
“Heartland Films is really finding these stories that have a different voice and they’re putting them at the forefront, because they’re offering others to see these films and be transformed by them,” she said. “All of our stories aren’t the same, and we’re really bringing diversity to the festival.”
With over 125 films to see, festivalgoers have quite the task ahead of them. But Beasley just hopes that they keep an open mind and watch different kinds of movies than what they’re used to.
“You will be so surprised at how powerful these films are and how much they’re going to give you a different perspective,” Beasley said.
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