Frequently Asked Questions

What does Heartland Film do? Is it just a film festival?

Heartland Film is a nonprofit arts organization founded in 1991 with the mission to inspire filmmakers and audiences through the transformative power of film. Heartland Film is a curator and supporter of purposeful filmmaking, honoring a wide variety of cinema and awarding storytellers from all over the world. The films we select and exhibit – whether they inspire and uplift, educate and inform, or have the ability to shift audiences’ perspectives on the world – all have one thing in common: they are entertaining films that do more than just entertain.

Operating all throughout the year, Heartland Film is comprised of three major program areas:

Heartland International Film Festival: Heartland Film brings the world to Indianapolis each October during the 10-day Heartland International Film Festival. With over 270 screenings of independent films from around the globe, the Festival provides a unique opportunity for audiences to interact with more than 100 filmmakers whose art engages, educates and inspires.

Truly Moving Picture Award: Heartland Film honors select theatrically-released films with the Truly Moving Picture Award. Films that receive the Award have the power to promote positive change in audiences’ lives through the transformative power of the art form.

Heartland Film Roadshow: The Heartland Film Roadshow travels all across Indiana to offer year-round screenings of select Heartland films to the community. Screening venues include the Heartland Basile Theatre, Newfields, JCC Indianapolis, The Palladium, The Historic Artcraft Theatre and others.

Why is it important for Heartland Film to exist? How does the community benefit?

Do the movies you watch matter? Do they do more than just entertain? The films we select and exhibit – whether they inspire and uplift, educate and inform, or have the ability to shift audiences’ perspectives on the world – all have one thing in common: they are entertaining films that do more than just entertain.

Heartland Film champions purposeful filmmaking at the studio and independent level, to support and provide a network for filmmakers who create meaningful work, and to inspire the next generation of filmmakers.

Heartland Film is Indiana’s largest and longest-running film organization. Beyond prestige, the Festival welcomes 24,000 in screening attendance and introduces the state to hundreds of filmmakers who may have otherwise never visited. Movie studios consider Indianapolis to be the 27th to 30th movie market even though we’re the 13th largest city in the country. Heartland Film is the crown jewel in the community’s limited movie industry and continues to champion the art form like no other organization around.

How can I see Festival movies again?

The movies showcased at the Heartland International Film Festival are independent films, meaning that they do not have distribution. The only opportunity to see a large share of these films is at film festivals,  where they hope to gain enough exposure and traction to be picked up for a theatrical, television, digital, home video or some other type of distribution. Many film festivals do not support the films which they show after their event takes place, but that is what sets the Heartland International Film Festival apart; Heartland Film continuously supports their selections by sharing updates via its website, newsletters and social media. Moviegoers are encouraged to check the status of feature film titles at and to connect with films and filmmakers via social media to stay up to date on the latest news.

The Heartland Film Roadshow screening series is another great way for moviegoers to see these films again. Heartland Film takes Festival films all across the community, hosting 50 – 60 such screenings annually over the past few years. View the complete schedule at

How can I become a volunteer?

You can sign up by visiting the Heartland Film office in Fountain Square, the volunteer sign up page.

Are Heartland Film Festival films just from Indiana?

No, the Heartland International Film Festival offers world-class cinema and features independent film from all over the globe. Indiana filmmakers are more than welcome to submit their films!

What are short films?

Short films are movies which have a shorter duration than feature films, typically less than 40 minutes in length. The Heartland International Film Festival has earned the special designation of being a qualifying festival for the Annual Academy Awards® within the Short Films category. This means that the winner of the Grand Prize for Best Narrative Short Film will qualify for consideration in the Short Films category of the Annual Academy Awards® without the standard theatrical run, provided the film otherwise complies with the Academy rules.

How can I get involved?

Your time, talent and gifts are vital to the future of Heartland Film. As a nonprofit organization we exist by the generosity of people who, like us, believe in the transformative power of film. You can support Heartland Film by making a donation, becoming a member of Heartland Film, becoming a volunteer or becoming a sponsor.

What is the film selection process?

Initially, films are viewed by one of three screening committees (Narrative Feature, Documentary Feature and Short Film categories), which consist of 15-20 volunteers apiece. Committee members, each having taken a critical examination, are hand-selected by Heartland Film staff. A combination of scoring and discussion among these committee members and our artistic director/programming staff  ultimately decide the lineup of the Heartland International Film Festival.

From this pool of selections, 10-15 of each category’s highest-scoring films are sent on the Festival Award jury. Consisting of film professionals, academics and critics, this jury will select the five best films within each category. These five best films, or Finalists, are all in contention for the Grand Prize within their respective category.

The third, and final, jury tier is the Grand Prize jury. Comprised of diverse and tenured Heartland Film screening committee members, this jury is tasked with selecting the top film within each prize category.

Learn more here.

How does a film get the Truly Moving Picture award?

Submissions for the Truly Moving Picture Award are received directly from studios and producers for consideration. Films submitted to Heartland Film for TMPA consideration are judged against the organization’s mission on their overall artistic and technical quality. Each film is screened by Truly Moving Picture Award jury members and Heartland Film staff. Note that not every major release is submitted to Heartland Film for consideration.