Enriching films 

Heartland Film Festival’s 16th year

This October marks the 16th year the Heartland Film Festival will strive to fulfill its mission “to recognize and honor filmmakers whose work explores the human journey by artistically expressing hope and respect for the positive values of life.”

“Our goal is to continue to grow Heartland Truly Moving Pictures’ reach so even more people will be able to see and experience enriching and inspiring films,” Maryann Koopman, Heartland’s Film and Research Coordinator, says.

The festivities kick off on Oct. 18 with a screening of August Rush at the IMAX Theater. The film, starring Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Keri Russell, chronicles a musically gifted boy’s quest to reunite with his birth parents. Producer Richard Barton Lewis and Music Supervisor Anastasia Brown are scheduled to attend a Q&A session at the Eiteljorg Museum following the screening.

Overall, Heartland, which runs from Oct. 18 – 26, will feature up to 50 films, with 16 Crystal Heart Award Winners and 20 Official Selections, two of which were shot in Indiana. The group of Official Selections boasts three world premieres and two U.S. premieres. Films will be screened in three locations across town, including AMC Clearwater Crossing 12, AMC Greenwood Park 14 and UA Circle Center 9.

This year’s group of Crystal Heart Award Winners covers a variety of genres, with films from around the world. “We are getting more international all the time, which I like to see because there is such an incredible world of foreign films out there,” Koopman said. “Plus, I think many of this year’s films will appeal to a wider audience, not just your typical ‘film festival’ crowd.”

Among this year’s Crystal Heart winners is Lars and the Real Girl, a quirky comedy penned by Nancy Oliver, the screenwriter behind Six Feet Under, and produced by John Cameron (Friday Night Lights, O Brother, Where Art Thou?). The film stars Ryan Gosling as an introverted man who invites his Internet friend, Bianca, to visit. His friends and family, though initially delighted at the news, are astonished to discover that Bianca is a life-sized doll. Both Cameron and Director Craig Gillespie are scheduled to attend.

These and other films will be honored at the Crystal Heart Awards Ceremony, during which $200,000 in cash prizes will be awarded to the winners. The event, which will be held Oct. 20 at Conseco Fieldhouse, is an “opportunity to experience the glitz and glamour of Hollywood right here in our own back yard,” Koopman said. Attendees will have the chance to interact with filmmakers and stars at the Afterglow Party.

Those interested in a chance to chat with Indy flick producers, directors and writers will have the opportunity to do so at the Filmmaker’s Brunch on Oct. 21. The meet and greet reception will be held at The Westin, followed by brunch and live music furnished by Bill Kennough.

Also on Oct. 21, Mark Zoradi, President of Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures Group, will be at the Indiana History Center to give festival-goers a sneak peek at several upcoming Walt Disney Picture films, including Enchanted, starring Amy Adams, Susan Sarandon and Patrick Dempsey.

Another event featured during this year’s festivities is the 2007 Education Seminar, also at the Indiana History Center, starting on Oct. 22. The two-day program aims to arm aspiring filmmakers with the information necessary to create their own films, and will provide participants with the opportunity to listen to the experiences and absorb the advice of a group of select filmmakers, including industry experts Sterling van Wagenen and David Weiss.

For those who are “a little more politically-minded,” Koopman recommends the special presentation of WFYI’s documentary, Renewing American Culture: The Pursuit of Happiness. The screening will be held Oct. 23 at the Indiana History Center, with an introduction by Mayor Bart Peterson and an ensuing panel discussion featuring local leaders.

Heartland wraps up on Oct. 26 with matinee and evening showings of The Kite Runner, with screenwriter David Benioff scheduled to attend the latter. The Kite Runner, based on Khaled Hosseini’s best-selling novel of the same name, is a tale of forgiveness and redemption, set in Afghanistan through the fall of the monarchy to the rise of the Taliban regime.

The film has made headlines recently because of the studio’s decision to push the release date back by six weeks, while they try to get the film’s three young stars out of Kabul. According to a The New York Times article published earlier this month, executives at Paramount Vantage became concerned for the safety of the boys because of “rising lawlessness” in the city. The concern is that the boys could become the target of violence due to their portrayal of “a culturally inflammatory rape scene.”

Heartland Film Festival
Oct. 18-26
Multiple events/multiple locations, www.heartlandfilmfestival.org

Selected films

Home of the Giants

So is Home of the Giants a coming-of-age story or an underdog sports movie? Yes! Set in small-town Indiana, the film follows a high-school journalist, played by Sixth Sense/Secondhand Lions veteran Haley Joel Osment, whose puppy dog devotion to the star of the basketball team leads him into trouble when the fresh-out-of-prison older brother of Mr. Basketball draws the boys into a crime. The movie lacks finesse, but the performances are just fine and it’s fun to watch. The ex-con by the way, is played by Kenneth Mitchell, the big brother on Jericho. 104 minutes.
—Ed Johnson-Ott

Man in the Chair

Young and old find common ground in writer/director Michael Schroeder’s tale of an aspiring high-school movie maker, played by Michael Angarano (Jack’s son on Will and Grace), who encounters and eventually befriends a gruff old film gaffer, played by the legendary Christopher Plummer. The over-familiar structure of the story is more or less balanced out by the satisfaction of watching disparate souls drawn together by the creative process. The cast includes several well-known faces, including veteran character actor M. Emmet Walsh, X-Files alum Mitch Pileggi and Hart to Hart star Robert Wagner. 109 minutes. —EJO

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