Heartland Film Signs Gender Parity Pledge and First Top-Level Partnership with Alliance of Women Directors

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Heartland Film Inc., the nonprofit organizer of the 28th Annual Heartland International Film Festival (October 10-20, 2019) and Academy Award®-qualifying Indy Shorts International Film Festival (July 25-28, 2019) has officially signed on to the 5050×2020 parity pledge. Both festivals will reach gender parity in both film lineups by 2020 but intends to beat that goal with parity across 2019 selections. Additionally, Heartland Film will make available statistics regarding the gender parity of its selection committees, submitting filmmakers, and selected filmmakers.

“Gender disparity in the film industry continues to be an important yet dismissed epidemic; it is easy to say the problem is bigger than one organization or person’s decision, but that is simply not true,” explained Heartland Film Director of Film Programming, Greg Sorvig. “Film festivals need to consider gender parity as a standard right alongside technical quality, story, and genre when rounding out its program. By committing to the 5050×2020 pledge and partnering with Alliance of Women Directors, Heartland Film is taking a stand for what is right. My hope is that our colleagues in the industry will join us and other top-tier film festivals around the world in making this change.”

In its 2018 programming, 4 out of 5 top Grand Prize winners–accounting for more than $70,000 in cash prizes and an Academy Award®-qualifying shorts category–were directed by women and more than 50 percent of jury members and screening committee members were female. In total, female-led productions accounted for 38 percent of the overall programming for both festivals and additional panel discussions were offered to draw attention to the cause.

“A common myth is that women aren’t making films or they’re not submitting to festivals,” said Heartland Film Film Programming Coordinator Julia Ricci. “That is far from the truth. The talent is out there and they have something to say; it is important for film festivals to amplify these voices and provide equal opportunity across the board. Heartland’s track record of recognizing and honoring female filmmakers is growing stronger each year, and I’m thrilled that we are officially committing to this initiative.”

Beyond the 5050×2020 pledge, Heartland Film has formed an official partnership with the Alliance of Women Directors (AWD) based in Los Angeles. Heartland Film is the first organization to commit to the Dorothy Arzner Partnership, AWD’s top partner level which guarantees a programmed block of AWD films and complimentary submission waivers for all AWD members. Indy Shorts will feature a block of AWD member-directed short films this July.

“Alliance of Women Director’s partnership with Heartland Film exemplifies the synergistic efforts between filmmakers and festivals that can lead to real change in the industry,” said AWD Founder and Chairperson Jennifer Warren. “We are thrilled that our members will have the opportunity to work with this outstanding organization which supports women filmmakers and understands that representation matters.”

As a founding member of the Film Festival Alliance, a nonprofit networking organization that develops and fosters collaboration among mission-driven film festivals across North America, Heartland Film shares a growing commitment to gender parity:

“Film Festival Alliance represents more than 160 mission-driven festivals, who as a collective, are dedicated to equal representation within our organizations and the film festival industry as a whole,” said Executive Director Lela Meadow-Conner. “Throughout 2019 and beyond, we will be introducing additional resources for our membership, that advocate for greater accessibility to inclusive programming for both festivals and filmmakers; as well as addressing intersectionality initiatives as they obtain to organizational leadership. We are proud of our founding member Heartland Film for taking the important steps to prioritize parity within their film festival programming.”

Call for entries for the 28th Annual Heartland International Film Festival (feature films 41 minutes plus) and 2nd Annual Indy Shorts International Film Festival (short films 40 minutes or less) are now open. More information can be found at http://heartlandfilm.org/festival/submit/.

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