#Indianapolis – You may have heard the Robert Downey, Jr. was in town at the beginning of the month promoting his new movie, The Judge, in conjunction with the Heartland Film Festival. Heartland was hosting an advanced screening of the film, which is set in a fictitious Indiana town. That was just the beginning of an outstanding October for this organization dedicated to putting a spotlight on “truly moving pictures.”
The 2014 Heartland Film Festival really kicked off on October 16, with an opening night screening at the Indianapolis Museum of Art. Since then, films have basically been running non-stop in theaters across the city. Each year, Heartland selects the best of the best from thousands of entries from around the world. They then create a schedule that includes more than 140 independent films. These films range from full length features and documentaries, to shorts of all kinds. Films being screened at the festival were all considered for the annual cash awards, which are some of the largest in the country. Heartland is also a qualifying festival for the Annual Academy Awards short-film category.
So how does one go about enjoying the festival? I’ve included six important steps:
- Pick up a guidebook. Yes, the schedule is online. But having a book in your hands, one that has a whole page for notes, and a schedule you can hold in your hands helps a lot. Pick one up at any of the screening locations.
- Pick a theater. Yes, you could drive all over town. But you’ll see more if you can pick one venue a day and see what they have to offer. The two main locations are the AMC theater in Castleton, and the AMC theater at Trader’s Point (lucky for us they have the best popcorn around). Select screenings are also happening at the Wheeler Arts Center in Fountain Square.
- Buy your tickets. Tickets are crucial. They’re available at the box office, as well as online. If you’re wanting tickets for a popular film that’s gained a lot of buzz over the week, buy your tickets in advance. The very popular screenings sell out DAYS before the actual show. Check the website for information on Festival Passes and ticket 10 packs that provide cost savings.
- Get there early. Unlike mainstream movies, these films don’t typically have many previews. Guests are asked to be seated 15 minutes prior to showtime. They also have a person introducing the film. At the end of the show, stick around as the credits roll. There are discussions after many of the screenings, AND each audience member gets to cast a ballot for an audience choice award.
- Be a part of the fun on social media during the festival. Follow the hashtag #HeartlandFF on Twitter to see what people are talking about, and learn about added screenings (as well as sell outs) early. It’s also fun to tweet the many filmmakers and actors who are on Twitter. Paying them a compliment right after you’ve seen their show is a lot of fun, and an easy way to impress your friends.
- Be prepared to laugh, and cry, and really think. These films are truly moving and contain important messages.
The Heartland Film Festival is in it’s 23rd year, and it’s truly one of the annual events that makes Indianapolis the world class city that it is.