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Heartland Highlights

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If the common theme in your movie collection is the laurel crest, then October means one thing for you. Heartland.

Heartland Film Festival is moving into its twenty-second year, and is far from a quarter life crisis. The folks down at Heartland are proud to call themselves an Oscar qualifying festival as they search for the most 'moving' movies. This year alone brought in over 1,500 submissions for the festival, a record-breaking number.

Don't worry, not all 1,500 made it into the festival. Just over 100 films have been chosen for this year's screens located in Castleton, Traders Point and, new this year, Fountain Square. But how do the films get picked? It is a long process. Each film is watched at least three times before a decision is made and nothing but quality will get your film into this festival.

 "It's not the people you know or the amount of calls or emails you may send," says Louise Henderson, Festival Director, discussing the selection process.

Tim Irwin, Artistic Director, laughs recalling years before where he had received everything from vodka to wing sauce, as extra incentives. Nothing outside of a 'truly moving picture' sways these directors and selection committees.

"[We look for] films that promote positive change in people's lives through the transformative power of the art form," says Irwin. "It does something more than entertain."

"They aren't happily ever after films either," adds Henderson. "Some are going to be funny... but they are always going to make you think."

Outside of the 275 screenings, other Heartland events will include a filmmaker's brunch, animation workshop and a closing party at the Jazz Kitchen. Unlike many film festivals, these events are open to all. And you should always watch out for which screenings include Q+A's as many of the filmmakers will be coming to town for the festival.

It is safe to say that all 100 selections are worth seeing, but we have tried to narrow down a list of highlights for you. Here is the inside scoop on a few we thought deserved some attention.

To start at the end, closing night will debut a not yet released feature called The Book Thief, set in WWII Germany and based on the popular novel. Actors Geoffrey Rush and Emily Watson take in a young girl, Sophie Nélisse, whose imagination is captured by the love of reading. As Hitler rises to power, more books become labeled as a threat and become banned. (Spoiler alert: Nélisse will receive the Heartland's Rising Star Award.)



AIDS is something of a prominent character this year between The Forgotten Kingdom about a young man in Johannesburg, South Africa and a powerful documentary titled Blood Brother. Traveler Rocky Braat finds himself in an Indian AIDS hostile where children who may have AIDS are sent to die.



"The film is made by [Bratt's] best friend," explains Henderson. "It is a very intimate film in that way... really the journey they both are taking. It is incredible what he finds in himself." The film was a Sundance winner, and you have already caught locally at the Indy Film Fest.



Another documentary, Life According to Sam, features the struggles and joys of Sam Burns, a young boy, born with a rare disease that causes advanced aging. When Sam's parents were told to 'love the time they had,' they couldn't do nothing. Their determination and Sam's articulation are simply beautiful.



And those aren't even the half of it. Pick up a full schedule Starbucks, Old National Banks, Marsh or on your phone with the Heartland Film Festival App. Tickets are a bit cheaper online, so planning ahead is worth it.

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