Heartland seeks to share impactful films


Heartland International Film Festival Artistic Director Greg Sorvig had some apprehension about this year’s lineup.

“We come off (the) COVID (pandemic) and all that craziness of almost not having a festival, and now we have the strikes with (writers and actors),” the Carmel resident said. “It put us in a flux on what would be available for some of these bigger films that are the tent poles for us. So, I went from being fairly uncertain about how this year would go to being very excited. We locked in some great films.”

The festival, featuring more than 120 films, runs Oct. 5-15 at various venues in the Indianapolis area.

“We want films that can make an impact on you,” Sorvig said. “A lot of festivals have a similar mission to inspire, educate and engage. We want impactful films that tell diverse stories from around the world from different perspectives.”

“The Lionheart” from HBO is the story of IndyCar driver Dan Wheldon, who died in a racing accident in Las Vegas in 2011. The film follows as his sons, Sebastian and Oliver Wheldon, pursue racing careers.

‘Every year we have people asking for really hyper-specific local films, and although it’s not necessarily local, he was a two-time Indy 500 winner,” Sorvig said. “It’s one of those films you hear about, and you are like, ‘I hope it’s great,’ and it was.”

Sorvig said he knew it would be a reverent but joyous and celebratory film to have for opening night. “The Lionheart” will open the festival at 7 p.m. Oct. 5 at The Toby theater at Newfields.

Sorvig said the centerpiece and closing films have already been touted as having Academy Award candidates for Best Actor. Sorvig had correctly predicted Brendan Fraser would win the Oscar when “The Whale” was shown during last year’s festival.

“We hope to continue that streak with Colman Domingo and Paul Giamatti,” Sorvig said. “Colman is an early favorite. There is a lot of time, but we think Colman has a fantastic chance. He’s a great friend of Heartland and one of our cherished guests.”

Domingo plays the title role in “Rustin,” a film about Bayard Rustin, a gay civil rights activist who led the 1963 march on Washington, D.C. “Rustin” is set for 7 p.m. Oct. 11 at Newfields. The closing-night film “The Holdovers” from Focus Features is set for 6 p.m. Oct. 15 at Newfields and features Giamatti.

Sorvig said festivals are places for film fans to have true discoveries.

“It’s whether you want to see the first Oscar contender early within the state of the region, or you want to deep dive for this documentary from the other side of the world and meet the filmmakers. It’s pretty rewarding,” he said.

Sorvig is eager for the premiere of “Art & Soul: A Portrait of Nancy Noel.” The film is directed by Alex Kosene, Noel’s son and a filmmaker. Noel, a Zionsville artist and philanthropist, died in 2020. Sorvig said similar to the Weldon story, it’s a celebration of Noel’s life and works. The documentary will debut at 3:30 p.m. Oct. 7 at Newfields.

For more, visit heartlandfilm.org.