Winners announced for Heartland Film Fest

William Bias, Brett Fallentine, Calvin Gray, Ghuan Featherstone (Photo: Whitney Walker)

William Bias, Brett Fallentine, Calvin Gray, Ghuan Featherstone (Photo: Whitney Walker)

The Heartland International Film Festival announced the filmmaker award winners for the film festival’s 28th edition during an Awards Brunch on Saturday, October 19.

The Grand Prize for Best Narrative Feature (and a cash prize of $15,000) went to Bora Kim’s House of Hummingbird, with one of the film’s stars, Seung-Yun Lee on hand to accept the award, with Waad al-Kateab and Edward Watts’ For Sama taking home two awards, including the $15,000 Grand Prize for Best Documentary Feature, as well as the Richard D. Propes Social Impact Documentary Award and the $2000 that came with that award.

Watts accepted the awards on behalf of the film. Each of the finalists in the Narrative and Documentary competition categories received a $1000 cash prize.

HOUSE OF HUMMINGBIRD star Seung-Yun Lee (Photo by Whitney Walker)

Among the other awards, Brett Fallentine’s documentary about the horse riding community in South Central L.A., Fire on the Hill received the film festival’s Jimmy Stewart Legacy Award and $5000.

Three of the film’s subjects attended the ceremony with Fallentine, and as they accepted the award, one of the subjects, Ghuan Featherstone, said, “This film is about perceptions and changing those perceptions. Here we are in the Midwest and our lives relate to you.”

Heartland 2019 Awards – William Bias, Brett Fallentine, Calvin Gray, Ghuan Featherstone 10.19.19 (Photo by Whitney Walker)

Matt Ratner was the festival’s other two-time winner, as his film, Standing Up, Falling Down received the festival’s Humor and Humanity Award and $1000, and he received the Fipresci nod for Best Directorial Debut for USA Narrative Film.

As he accepted his second award, Ratner, said, “Places like Heartland are so meaningful. There is a space in a crowded marketplace for films about people struggling with their humanity.”

“From South Central LA cowboys to South Korea, our award winners truly demonstrated the international scope of Heartland,” said Craig Prater, Heartland Film President, following the awards presentation.

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“This was a banner year for us programming-wise, as we were able to screen so many of our top choices from the film festival circuit, films that are in major consideration for the Oscars and top critics awards right now,” Greg Sorvig, Heartland Film Artistic Director, added.

“Audiences are filling our theaters because they have realized that the Heartland International Film Festival is quickly becoming a true awards tastemaker film festival. With that combined enthusiasm we enjoyed from both our film fans and our filmmakers, it’s great to then cap it by rewarding the wonderful films and filmmakers that won this year. They really deserved it.”

Earlier this year Heartland Film signed the 5050×2020 Parity Pledge guaranteeing that at least half of its festival programming will be directed by women by its 2020 Indy Shorts and HIFF events.

In total, 43% of this year’s official selection lineup was were directed or co-directed by women and 63% of the overall $60,000 prize purse ($38,000) went to titles directed or co-directed by female filmmakers, led by Kim’s House of Hummingbirdand al-Kateab and Watts’ For Sama.

HIFF’s Best Premiere Awards (along with the corresponding cash prizes of $2000) were presented to Julie Sokolow’s Barefoot: The Mark Baumer Story (Best Premiere Documentary) and Nora Fingscheidt’s Systemsprenger (System Crasher) (Best Premiere Narrative). The film festival’s Best International Feature Film Oscar Contender (which came with a $2000 cash prize) went to Pedro Almodóvar’s Pain and Glory (Dolor y gloria).

In addition to the Social Impact Documentary Award, Indiana film critic Richard D. Propes was on hand to also present the other award in his name, the Richard D. Propes Social Impact Narrative Feature Award (and $2000), which went to Flavio Alves’ The Garden Left Behind.

Heartland 2019 Awards – Abo Anthony, Richard D. Propes, Flavio Alves, John Rotondo 10.19.19 (Photo by Whitney Walker)

The Indiana Spotlight Award (and $2000) went to Prarthana Mohan’s The Miseducation of Bindu, with the Indiana Spotlight Audience Choice Award (and $1000) going to Ashton Gleckman’s We Shall Not Die.

Heartland 2019 Awards – Ashton Gleckman 10.19.19 (Photo by Whitney Walker)

Destin Daniel Cretton’s Just Mercy received two Audience Choice Awards for both Special Presentation, as well as Overall. Robert Tinnell’s Feast of the Seven Fishes received the nod (and a $1000 cash prize for Narrative Feature, and Jacob Hamilton’s Jump Shot received the nod (and $1000 cash prize) for Documentary Feature.

19-year-old Ashton Gleckman’s debut We Shall Not Die Now won the Audience Choice Award (and $1000) in the Indiana Spotlight category.

Alex Holmes’ Maiden was the Audience Choice in the Awards Season Spotlight category, and Greece’s Official Academy Award entry, When Tomatoes directed by Marianna Economou got the nod in the Best International Feature Film Oscar contenders section. Michael Herbig’s Balloon won the Audience Choice Award for HIFF’s Cultural Journey: Germany sidebar.

The 28th edition of the Heartland International Film Festival, which wrapped up on October 20 with Cretton’s Just Mercy and other screenings, was also marked by buzz-worthy titles that the film festival’s fans filled theater after theater to see.

Gala titles like Marielle Heller’s A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, Noah Baumbach’s Marriage Story, and Fernando Meirelles’ The Two Popes, along with screenings of hot ticket films like Bong Joon Ho’s Parasite, Nadav Lapid’s Synonyms, Trey Edwards Shults’ Waves, Chinonye Chukwu’s Clemency, and Taika Waititi’s JoJo Rabbit, among others, took HIFF to another level this year.

Among other highlights, Brendan Fraser returned to Indianapolis to receive not one, but two standing ovations both prior to, and after, a special 20th Anniversary screening of his box office smash hit, The Mummy.

Life Achievement Award honoree Michael Apted received a warm reception at a screening of his latest, 63 UP, and Dennis Christopher was welcomed enthusiastically at a 40th Anniversary screening of Peter Yates’ beloved Indiana-based classic, Breaking Away.