The Heartland International Film Festival announces selections for 28th edition (October 10-20)

Posted by Larry Gleeson

the Opening Night selection, Destin Daniel Cretton’s JUST MERCY
is the Closing Night choice, Noah Baumbach’s MARRIAGE STORY
takes the Centerpiece Screening slot, and Fernando Meirelles’
THE TWO POPES will be the Showcase Screening

Screen Shot 2019-09-18 at 9.35.27 AM


Indianapolis, IN (September 18, 2019) – The Heartland International Film Festival announced the official selections for its 28th edition, taking place October 10-20. Four top-tier titles expected to be major awards players this year have been secured for each of the gala slots for this year’s edition of the film festival, and a number of attention-getting films will join them as Heartland takes another major step toward being a leader on the regional circuit. Marielle Heller’s Tom Hanks-starrer A BEAUTIFUL DAY IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD was chosen as the Opening Night Gala film, and Destin Daniel Cretton’s JUST MERCY will screen as the Closing Night Gala selection. Noah Baumbach’s MARRIAGE STORY is set to be the Centerpiece Screening, and Fernando Meirelles’ THE TWO POPES will be the Showcase Screening.


Nine films will make their world premieres, including; Julie Sokolow’s BAREFOOT: THE MARK BAUMER STORY; Brian Presley’s THE GREAT ALASKAN RACE; Aaron McCann and Dominic Pearce’s KOKO: A RED DOG STORY; Nate James Bakke’s MAN CAMP; Jason Mac’s THE OLDMAN AND THE POND; Chateaubriand Bezerra, Michael Basha, Sarah Gross, Reeyaz Habib, Sade Clacken Joseph, Julia Kennedy, Maria De Sanctis, Christina Jun, and Sohil Vaidya’s
SAMIR; Stephen Edwards’ SYNDROME K; Ashton Gleckman’s WE SHALL NOT DIE NOW; and Skyler Lawson’s WHELM.

Among the 7 films making their U.S. premieres at the Heartland International Film Festival this year will be; Carlye Rubin and Katie Green’s 1275 DAYS; Dani Tenenbaum’s A NEW CHRISTMAS; Bill Crossland’s CATCHING UP; Vivienne Kernick and Kirsty Griffin’s HOUSE OF CHAMPIONS; Rebecca Panian’s LOVERS; Anjali Bhushan’s MY HOME INDIA; and Nora Fingscheidt’s SYSTEM CRASHER (Systemsprenger).

As it continues the robust growth the film festival has exhibited in the last couple of years, Heartland International Film Festival has nearly doubled the number of films to be screened this year in comparison to last year, showcasing more than 210 films (182 features, 28 shorts) representing 43 countries, and will hand out cash prizes totaling more than $60,000 at the conclusion of the film festival

“We could not be more excited about what’s in store for this year’s Heartland International Film Festival and welcome filmgoers to explore our bold cinematic space,” said Craig Prater, Heartland Film President. “From award contenders, premieres, stars, and sensational events, Heartland is proud to be able to represent this important art form on such an international scale here in Indiana.”

Heller’s A BEAUTIFUL DAY IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD stars Tom Hanks as the iconic and beloved Mr. Rogers in the film based on the real life meeting and subsequent friendship that developed between Rogers and journalist Tom Junod. The film is already a certified crown-pleaser following its debut at the Toronto Film Festival and will open Heartland, screening at Newfields on Thursday, October 10.

Destin Daniel Cretton’s JUST MERCY will serve as the Closing Night Gala selection, screening at Newfields on Sunday, October 20 at Newfields. The film follows the history-making battle for justice undertaken by world-renowned civil rights defense attorney Bryan Stevenson concerning the case of a condemned death row prisoner whom he fought to free. Starring Academy Award Winners Jamie Foxx and Brie Larson, in addition to Michael B. Jordan.

On Wednesday, October 16 a Newfields, Noah Baumbach’s MARRIAGE STORY has been selected as this year’s Centerpiece Screening. The film is an incisive and compassionate look at a marriage breaking up and a family staying together with an incredible star-driven cast including Adam Driver, Scarlett Johansson, Laura Dern, Alan Alda, and Ray Liotta.

The following evening, Thursday, October 17 (also at Newfields), Fernando Meirelles’ THE TWO POPES takes this year’s Showcase screening slot. The film features two powerhouse actors, Anthony Hopkins and Jonathan Pryce, as the traditionalist Pope Benedict and the reformist future Pope Francis, who face an uncomfortable task of finding common ground to forge a new path for the Catholic Church.

Additional special events include the previously announced Pioneering Spirit: Life Achievement Award presentations to Michael Apted (prior to a screening of his film, 63 UP), and Cloris Leachman (via taped acceptance prior to a screening of her latest film, WHEN LAST WE SPOKE). Also previously announced, Brendan Fraser will come to Heartland for a special film retrospective including a 20th Anniversary screening of his blockbuster hit, THE MUMMY, which will include a Q&A with Deadline Hollywood’s Chief Film Critic Pete Hammond.

Adding to Heartland’s Anniversary screening series, will be two more special events: A 40th Anniversary presentation of Peter Yates’ classic Indiana-favorite film, BREAKING AWAY will take place at Newfields on Saturday, October 19 with the star of the film, Dennis Christopher in attendance. A 50th Anniversary presentation of John Schlesinger’s Academy Award Best Picture winner MIDNIGHT COWBOY will take pace at AMC Castleton Square on Tuesday, October 15. Photographer Michael Childers scheduled to attend and add some behind-the-scenes details with a moderated Q&A hosted by Longtime Palm Springs Desert Sun arts reporter Bruce Fessier.


This year’s Narrative Finalists, vying for Heartland’s $25,000 Grand Prize, include; Tom Quinn’s COLEWELL, featuring a startling dramatic turn by Karen Allen as a woman facing an unexpected retirement as her small town post office is slated for closure; Flavio Alves’ THE GARDEN LEFT BEHIND, winner of a number of awards, including Best of Fest at the Bentonville Film Festival, the film follows the relationship between a young trans woman and her grandmother, as they struggle to build a life for themselves as undocumented immigrants in New York City; Jocelyn DeBoer, and Dawn Luebbe’s twisted comedy GREENER GRASS
set in a surreal suburban neighborhood where every adult engages in more and more bizarre behavior in a competition for acceptance; Timothy Busfield’s GUEST ARTIST, which stars Jeff Daniels as a legendary but troubled playwright, who arrives at a small Michigan town at Christmastime to mount his latest play; and Bora Kim’s HOUSE OF HUMMINGBIRD, which focuses on a lonely 14-year-old, Eun-hee who feels a new teacher may really understand her.

The Documentary Film Finalists, also in competition for a $25,000 Grand Prize, include; Davy Rothbart’s 17 BLOCKS about a Washington, D.C. family, who began to film their daily lives in America’s most dangerous neighborhood — just 17 blocks behind the U.S. Capitol building; Jenifer McShane’s ERNIE & JOE, an intimate portrait of two Texas police officers who are helping change the way police respond to mental health calls; Waad Al-Khateab, and Edward Watts’s FOR SAMA, a video love letter from a young mother to her daughter, which tells the story of her life through five years of the uprising in Aleppo; Jacob Hamilton’s JUMP SHOT, which looks at the inspiring true story of Kenny Sailors, the developer of the modern day jump shot in basketball; and Irene Taylor Brodsky’s MOONLIGHT SONATA: DEAFNESS IN THREE MOVEMENTS, a deeply personal memoir about a deaf boy growing up, and his deaf grandfather growing old.


Additional highlights among the jam-packed schedule dotted with award-winners, hot film festival titles, and the film festival’s first stab at horror include; Ben Berman’s THE AMAZING JOHNATHAN DOCUMENTARY, which begins following the final tour of a dying magician – and becomes an unexpected and increasingly bizarre journey; Chinonye Chukwu’s CLEMENCY, A Grand Jury Prize winner at Sundance, which stars Alfre Woodard as a prison warden confronting the psychological and emotional demons her job creates, ultimately connecting her to the man she is sanctioned to kill; Peter Strickland’s surreal and frightening haunted dress story, IN FABRIC, marks the Heartland’s first dedicated foray into programming horror and genre films; Nadav Lapid’s SYNONYMS a Golden Bear winner at the Berlin Film Festival, about a young Israeli man attempting to start fresh in Paris with the aid of his French-language dictionary; and two major buzz-worthy titles with; WAVES, Trey Edwards Shults’s latest, about two young couples navigating the emotional minefield of growing up and falling in love; and Bong Joon Ho’s PARASITE, about an unemployed family that takes peculiar interest in a wealthy and glamorous family for their livelihood until they get entangled in an unexpected incident. The film was the winner of the Palme d’Or at this year’s Cannes Film Festival.

Film festival passes and tickets are on-sale now. For more information, go to:

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