Leah Warshawski: “Best of the Fest” Filmmaker Interview

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Bedford “Best of the Fest” – June 13-14, 2014

Known for showcasing the best in independent, inspiring film from all over the world every October, the Heartland Film Festival—presented by nonprofit arts organization Heartland Film—will offer moviegoers in Bedford, Ind. a chance to experience the festival atmosphere in their own backyard. Four indie filmmakers are scheduled to attend “Best of the Fest,” presented by Duke Energy, and will be available to mingle with attendees and provide insight on the filmmaking process. Director Leah Warshawski will return to Indiana for an encore screening of her film, Finding Hillywood.

Filmmaker Bio

Leah Warshawski is a producer/director specializing in documentary storytelling around the globe for commercials, branded entertainment, reality shows, narrative features, and documentaries. She has worked for major television networks on shows including “Lost” and “Hawaii”, and has filmed in more than 30 countries. Her directorial debut documentary Finding Hillywood (2013) is currently screening at festivals and has won six awards since its premiere, including the Critic’s Award (Sebastopol Documentary Festival) and the Audience Award (Napa Film Festival). Leah is also the co-founder of rwandafilm.org, an outreach and job site created in 2012 in partnership with Bpeace (Business Council for Peace) and the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences.

Heartland Film Interview

Heartland Film: Can you tell us a little about your overall Heartland Film Festival experience and what you’re looking forward to most about returning to Indiana?

Leah Warshawski: We love Heartland because the staff is friendly and responsive, and the festival promotes the films and filmmakers. Believe it or not, some festivals are more about the “events” than the films, and we found that Heartland was very supportive of our film. We’re excited to engage audiences via the roadshow because that mission is at the core of our film Finding Hillywood. Bringing films to rural audiences is the biggest joy for us, and for the filmmakers we profiled in Rwanda.

Finding Hillywood

Heartland Film: Give us an update on Finding Hillywood since it was shown at Heartland in October. Any big news?

Leah Warshawski: We have had a busy year! Since Heartland, we won three awards – Audience Award (Napa), Critic’s Award (Sebastopol) and the Best Documentary at the Rainier Independent Film Festival. We are partnering with Gathr Films for theatrical-on-demand screenings around the U.S. that allow anyone to bring our film to their local movie theater. We’re are selling international broadcast rights and still looking for domestic broadcast. We have an in-flight aggregator and will release Finding Hillywood on digital platforms (Vimeo, iTunes, etc.) this fall. We’ve also begun producing our next film – Big Sonia (www.bigsonia.com) – about an 89-year-old Holocaust survivor and business owner.

Heartland Film: Heartland Film Festival moviegoers love filmmaker Q&As. Let’s say a Summer Rewind attendee wants to earn some brownie points—what is a question that you’d love to answer, but haven’t yet been asked?

Leah Warshawski: “Where do we send a check to help with your next movie?”

Meet Leah at Bedford “Best of the Fest”

See Finding Hillywood and meet Leah and Post Supervisor Todd Soliday at the Beford “Best of the Fest,” June 13-14 in Bedford, Ind.

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