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Heartland Film Festival: What you’ll want to see

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Commentary by Amy Pauszek

The annual 24th Heartland Film Festival will roll out the red carpet this Oct. 16-25 “Where’s Amy?” will be there to highlight the special events. For years, Heartland has sent me films to review for my ‘Top 5 Favorite Films To See’ for Current. Last year, Heartland fans gathered at the Athenaeum to find out what films were selected. I was amazed at the outstanding line-up of films that will engage, educate, inspire and challenge audiences of all ages. More than 1,750 films, representing 95 countries. were submitted to the festival and the Heartland staff (with help from film jury screeners) narrowed it down to 145 of the best films. This years festival will be new and exciting because there will be over 10 days of red carpet premieres and events, parties and hundreds of film screenings across Indianapolis.

The Festival has added new features for 2015, including a brand-new Premiere Pavilion at AMC Showplace Traders Point 12 which will be perfect for all Current’s film lovers especially Zionsville and Westfield movie buffs. You won’t want to miss the prestigious Truly Moving Picture Award Winning and opening night film “Room” at the Indianapolis Museum of Art on Oct. 16 and the closing night film “Coming through the rye” with the director James Sadwith scheduled to attend. “Where’s Amy?” will be attending the awards ceremony and after party in the Egyptian Room at Old National Centre on Saturday, Oct. 24 and the Filmmaker’s Brunch on Sunday, Oct. 25 at the Omni Severin Hotel. If you can’t make it to Heartland – be sure to catch my column with exclusive photos and scoops of the filmmakers and celebrities who will be coming to the festival. Last year I had the opportunity to interview many celebrities on the red carpet for Current including Robert Downey Jr. I hope to see you on the red carpet and hope you will check out my ‘Top 5 Favorites Films To See.’  “Where’s Amy?” … I will be hob sobbing with the stars – See you at the movies! For more information please visit : HEARTLANDFILMFESTIVAL.ORG

1. “Crocodile Gennadiy”  (Documentary Feature / Festival Award Winner) : The fall of the Soviet Union left Ukraine in a wake of social and political upheaval. Pastor and Civic Leader Gennadiy Mokhnenko took action by forcibly abducting homeless drug-addicted kids from the streets of Mariupol,Ukraine. He founded Pilgram Republic, a children’s rehabilitation center and home for former street kids. With Gennadiy’s help, over the years, things have changed. Mariupol is no longer crawling with homeless kids and many credit this to his efforts at Pilgrim. This documentary film follows the journey of Gennadiy Mokhnenko know to many as ‘Crocodile Gennadiy’. The subject matter is not for the faint of heart, and contains some dark imagery, but it’s the darkness that Gennadiy helps you understand and see the light of man who has made a difference. Director Steve Hoover did an outstanding job and if you had the opportunity to catch the 2013 Heartland Film Award (Winner) “Blood Brother” you will find he has a gift of story-telling that is truthful and inspiring.

2. “Tell Spring Not To Come” (Documentary Feature / Festival Award Winner) : This documentary film follows one unit of the Afghan National Army (ANA) over the course of their first year of fighting in Helmand without NATO support. It is an intimate film about the human side of combat, told from a largely unheard and misrepresented perspective, that explores the deep personal motivations, desires and struggles of a band of fighting men on the front line. Without a NATO soldier in sight and fighting alone – this is the story of the war in Afghanistan, through the eyes of the Afghans who live it. I was moved by this film and look forward to meeting the director Saeed Taji Farouky who is scheduled to attend the festival. Note: This film contains graphic wartime images, brief strong language and is in Dari with English subtitles.

3. “Superior” (Narrative Feature / Official Selection): Inspired heavily by films such as “Breaking Away” and “Stand By Me”, “Superior” takes place in the summer of 1969, where Derek Suntila is weeks away from the Vietnam War and Charlie Eskola is weeks away from his first days at Michigan Tech University.  Before the two best friends go their separate ways, they embark on a 1,300 mile bike trip around the massive and unforgiving Lake Superior to escape the pressure of their future. The two best friends that left their small home town as boys must overcome the wilderness and uncertainty on their journey as men. I loved this film and look forward to interviewing and meeting director Edd Benda, actor Paul Stanko and actor Thatcher Robinson who will be attending several screenings with Q & A’s after the screenings.

4. “Oddball”  (US PREMIERE – NARRATIVE FEATURE / OFFICIAL SELECTION) : Heartfelt and fun-filled adventure about an eccentric chicken farmer Swampy Marsh and his granddaughter Olivia. Together the two train Marsh’s rambunctious and mischievous dog Oddball to protect a penguin sanctuary from fox attacks -hoping to reunite his family and save their seaside town. Get your tickets today for this family friendly film which screens at 2:30 pm – Sunday, October 18th. It is part of the Heartland Special Event U.S. Premieres which includes a ticket for the film screening at AMC Traders Point plus access to the Premiere Pavilion after-party with delicious hor d’oeuvres. Filmmakers and/or talent are scheduled to attend and take part in Premiere Pavilion red carpet festivities.

5. “BIg Voice” (Documentary Feature / Official Selection) : “BiIG VOICE” captures a tumultuous year in the life of a visionary high school choir teacher Jeffe Huls and his students as they overcome seemly insurmountable obstacles to become one big voice in this inspiring musical documentary. Huls must convince his students to set aside their egos, conflicting styles and teenage angst to achieve the artistry he knows they are capable of. It is as much as a story about the struggles of high school life as it is about choir. “BIg Voice” interweaves slices of life, interviews and masterwork performances to engage and entertain. Don’t miss this special U.S. Premiere Film on Sunday, October 18th at 7:30 pm. The film is part of the Premiere Pavilion which also includes access to the after-party and hors d’oeuvres. Filmmakers and /or talent are scheduled to attend and take part in the Premiere Pavilion red carpet festivities.

Like short films? Don’t miss these three short films that have Indiana ties:

“Your catfish friend: Philip Campbell” ( Documentary Short / Official Selection) – featuring Indiana local artist and a personal friend Philip Campbell.

“A proud woman” (World Premiere / Narrative Short / Festival Award Winner) – Indiana Native and Director Sam Osborn to attend festival.

“Upendo” (World Premiere / Narrative Short / Official Selection) featuring Indiana local child actor Shannon M. Brown.


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