Heartland Film Festival Award Ceremony: Honoring the Best and Brightest

    Saturday, October 24, 2015, was the Heartland Film Festival Award Ceremony where filmmakers who were part of the festival this year were honored and awarded over $120,000 in cash prizes. It was a night to encourage the winners to keep doing such tremendous work and to inspire those to make amazing films.

Winners of Heartland Film Festival 2015:

Best Narrative Feature ($45,000): The Judgment; Directed by Stephen Komandarev

Audience Choice Award, Narrative Feature: Marie’s Story; Directed by Jean-Pierre Améris

Best Narrative Premiere ($5,000): Borderless; Directed by Amir Hossein Asgari

Best Narrative Short ($5,000): The Way of Tea; Directed by Marc Fouchard

Audience Choice Award, Narrative Short: Moving On; Directed by Marcia Fields and Mike Spear

Best Documentary Feature ($45,000): Romeo is Bleeding; Directed by Jason Zeldes

Audience Choice Award, Documentary Feature: Dream/Killer; Directed by Andrew Jenks

Best Documentary Premiere ($5,000): Big Voice; Directed by Varda Bar-Kar

Best Documentary Short ($5,000): The 100 Years Show; Directed by Alison Klayman

Audience Choice Award, Documentary Short: Teen Press; Directed by T.C. Johnstone

Indiana Spotlight Award ($5,000): Citizen Teklit; Directed by Tim Taylor

Summer White Lynch Memorial Award High School Film Competition ($3,000): This Home is Not Empty; Directed by Carol Nguyen

Jimmy Stewart Memorial Crystal Heart Awards ($2,000): The Heart Thief; Directed by Ella Rubeli Leidi; Directed by Simon Mesa Soto.


Dressed accordingly to the cocktail dress code requirement, I observed many directors, writers, and producers while they were there to represent their respective films. One of the surprises from the evening was seeing Donté Clard from Romeo is Bleeding.

The ceremony took place in downtown, Indianapolis at the Old National Theatre’s Egyptian room. The look and scope of the room really made it feel authentic from the large room to the dressed up guests. The background music throughout the entire event was original scores from films. Many I found unrecognizable, but there were two I was able to know. One was from 2010’s How to Train Your Dragon and the other was 2013’s Saving Mr. Banks.

The event lasted about an hour and a half, and it was very informative. Before most of the winners of each category was announced, they had either directors, producers, or writers come out and undertake a quick Q & A session from host Greg Ballard, Indianapolis mayor. It was nice to learn about the films I didn’t get to see during the week.

The winners giving their speeches were very genuine. It was great to see them be honored for their hard work and their passion for film.

Heartland Film Festival comes only once a year, and I am glad to say that I was able to participate in such a lovely event. It is inspiring to watch all of the talent, and work on their passionate films. This is definitely something that everyone should attend, whether to those who have gone in the past or someone who has never been was. It is a great time and I looking forward to see what it will be like next year.