Heartland Film is a non-profit arts organization that was founded in 1991 and hosts two large international film festivals each year – the Academy Award®-Qualifying Indy Shorts International Film Festival in July and the 11-day Heartland International Film Festival (HIFF) in October – as well as other year-round events and screenings. Heartland Film recently was awarded the moniker ‘Top 25 Coolest Film Festivals in the World’ for both festivals by MovieMaker Magazine, an industry staple. This year’s Heartland International Film Festival will run from October 5-15 and feature 120+ films from 40+ countries, as well as bring 150+ filmmakers to Indianapolis. We caught up with the 20- and 30-somethings on the Heartland Film team to find out their role in bringing the festival to life.
Adam Howell, Senior Director of Strategic Planning
What is your role in putting HIFF together? Share your experience! I oversee the operations of the festival and have been doing so for 15 years. From working with venues to managing the technical exhibition, I have to make sure both the audience and filmmaker experience is of the highest quality.
What makes Heartland Film special? Getting to bring unique stories that may not otherwise be in front of an Indianapolis audience is what makes Heartland Film special.
Which film are you most excited about for #HIFF32? I am excited to celebrate some very special Hoosier stories in a few of these films. We have an incredible lineup with titles from all over the world, but to pair them with great stories from our home state is extra exciting.
Bailey Scales, Director of Events
What is your role in putting HIFF together? Share your experience! I am the Director of Events, so I oversee many of the festival logistics like staffing, ticketing, rentals, and party planning for our special events like the Kick-Off Party and Awards Celebration. I started as an intern, then a seasonal contractor before my current role, so I’ve done everything from reviewing film submissions, driving filmmaker shuttles, working the box office, and more!
What makes Heartland Film special? The quality of our festival experience for attendees and filmmakers is what makes Heartland Film special. We have over 100 filmmakers coming into town who will do audience Q&As after their films, which always provide so much insight into the making of their art.
Which film are you most excited about for #HIFF32? If you take a look at our guidebook, you’ll see why it’s so hard to answer this question! I love our documentaries, and “We Dare to Dream” is a special look into the power of the human spirit. It follows the Refugee Olympic Team as they prepare to compete at the Tokyo Olympics and the viewer gets an intimate access to their hopes and desires as they fight for a better life.
Abi Lindstedt, Community Outreach Coordinator
What is your role in putting HIFF together? Share your experience! As Community Outreach Coordinator, my role connects community groups and schools to independent film. I find films in our lineup and offer them to local groups and schools – then, we work together to figure out the best ways to share that information with our community. You may have seen me at different art festivals and events throughout the city leading up to #HIFF32!
What makes Heartland Film special? Heartland Film is in a unique position to introduce the Indianapolis community to amazing independent films, some of which you may never have an opportunity to see again. Through connections created with the folks in your theater and the post-film Q&A, it can be magical!
Which film are you most excited about for #HIFF32? The event I’m most excited about is actually an extended evening of film and dance! Through a partnership with the Indy Dance Council and Seda Negra/Black Silk Dance Company, we’ll host their “Voyages and Journeys” dance performance before a screening of “Patria y Vida: The Power of Music.” The film highlights the creation of a Grammy-winning song and the ripples of revolution its created in Cuba and around the world.
Evan Vernon, Hospitality and Special Events Coordinator
What is your role in putting HIFF together? Share your experience! As the Hospitality Coordinator, I organize flights, hotels, rides, and other accommodations for our attending filmmakers. I am their main contact in the weeks preceding the fest and do my best to ensure that everyone has a smooth, positive experience at HIFF.
What makes Heartland Film special? Our programming! Heartland Film screens films of every scale, genre, and nationality. From studio blockbusters to arthouse indies, we celebrate the true breadth and beauty of international cinema.
Which film are you most excited about for #HIFF32? “26.2 To Life”! I love the film’s focus on the rehabilitative power of distance running—especially as a runner myself.
Kate Powers, Special Events Coordinator
What is your role in putting HIFF together? Share your experience! My role as the Special Events Coordinator during HIFF is to provide support for all the festival’s key events, mainly facilitating event operations, but I love filling in wherever I can and learning the key functions of every role and department that’s a part of the Heartland Film team.
What makes Heartland Film special? Heartland Film is special because the passion of our small team has had such a large impact on filmmakers and the industry in the Midwest and beyond, especially when it comes to supporting local Indiana artists and projects that are full of talent.
Which film are you most excited about for #HIFF32? I’m most excited about the film, “Et Tu,” which will have its world premiere here at HIFF. Dark comedy thrillers can be hard to find but are one of my favorite genres.
Jessica Chapman, Director of Marketing and Communications
What is your role in putting HIFF together? Share your experience! I’m the Director of Marketing and work with both our Creative Manager and Social Media Coordinator to promote Heartland Film events like Indy Shorts, the Heartland International Film Festival and Merry Movie Nights! I love my job because I’m given opportunities to be creative every day.
What makes Heartland Film special? It’s pretty special that we host between 200-300 filmmakers every year from all over the world. They each come to Indy with a story to tell, and after the film screenings, you have the opportunity to ask them questions. I always say I meet the most fascinating people during the festival!
Which film are you most excited about for #HIFF32? I love documentaries, and “Another Body” is a very timely one. It looks at the unregulated world of deepfakes through a college student’s traumatic experience.
Angelo Auriemma, Creative Manager
What is your role in putting HIFF together? Share your experience! As Creative Manager, I’m responsible for producing/overseeing the production of all visual assets that come out of the organization. From creating graphics for social media, our guidebooks and pre-show videos for the festivals, or the entire theme and visual identity of each event, my goal is to keep us as aesthetically appealing and eye-catching as possible!
What makes Heartland Film special? Heartland Film is special because no matter who you are or what your interests may be, we have something that will interest, entertain, or inspire you. Given that we show hundreds of films a year across the city, we offer opportunities to bring people together and hopefully help them find their next favorite film!
Which film are you most excited about for #HIFF32? Personally, the film I’m the most excited about at #HIFF32 is “End of the Rope.” I’m a huge sucker for anything Westerns and this title sounds like it’s going to keep me on the edge of my seat!
Hannah Lindgren, Social Media Coordinator
What is your role in putting HIFF together? Share your experience! As the Social Media Coordinator, I tell the story of Heartland Film, including both of our festivals, as well as other events and community engagement. I love being an advocate for our filmmakers; through social media, we get to help put the word out about their films and get people excited to attend!
What makes Heartland Film special? I’ve been attending Heartland Film festivals since I was a teenager, and while the creative direction and scope have morphed and changed, the spirit has always remained the same. People are at the heart of Heartland Film festivals, and you can see that through every interaction: between staff and filmmakers, filmmakers and attendees, and everyone in between.
Which film are you most excited about for #HIFF32? I really enjoyed “Dusty & Stones.” As a country music lover and someone who has visited Swaziland (now known as eSwatini) twice, it was so neat to see these two men follow their dreams, even if things didn’t turn out quite the way they imagined.
Greg Sorvig, Artistic Director
What is your role in putting HIFF together? Share your experience! As Artistic Director, I help lead the film selection process and program our full slate of 120+ films at the festival!
What makes Heartland Film special? Our Hoosier hospitality! We organize big festivals and show hundreds of movies every year, all while creating a cool environment where people – filmmakers, attendees, staff – can come together and seamlessly celebrate together.
Which film are you most excited about for #HIFF32? You can’t ask which baby is my favorite, but I’m especially proud to share our big event films, “The Lionheart,” “Rustin,” and “The Holdovers.”
Join Heartland Film from October 5–15 at five venues across Indianapolis. Use code 20S30SHIFF for $2 off your ticket purchase. Applies to all in-person screenings during #HIFF32. Excludes Premium Events and Special Events including but not limited to Opening Night, Centerpiece and Closing Night. Find Heartland Film online and purchase tickets at heartlandfilmfestival.org or on social media @heartlandfilm.