"Hidden Letters” and “Our Father, the Devil” win $20,000 Grand Prizes, "Wildcat" wins the Jimmy Stewart Legacy Award
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(OCTOBER 15, 2022) INDIANAPOLIS – The 31st Heartland International Film Festival (HIFF) announced the 2022 award winners and presented more than $60,000 in cash prizes to recipients at the Awards Presentation at Historic St. Joseph Hall on Saturday, October 15. The 11-day festival continues through Sunday, October 16, with in-person and virtual screenings. Encore screenings of select winners will take place Sunday at Newfields and Living Room Theaters.
"Congratulations to this year's group of winning filmmakers," said Heartland Film President Michael Ault. "These thoughtful and engaging films have resonated with our juries and it was an honor to celebrate them together tonight at our Awards ceremony."
Major cash prizes were awarded to “Hidden Letters” from Director Violet Du Feng and Co-Director Qing Zhao ($20,000 Documentary Feature Grand Prize), “Our Father, the Devil” from Director Ellie Foumbi ($20,000 Narrative Feature Grand Prize), and “Wildcat” from Directors Melissa Lesh and Trevor Frost ($5,000 Jimmy Stewart Legacy Award). In partnership with the Stewart Family, HIFF is the only festival in the world to have an award in honor of beloved actor Jimmy Stewart with a cash prize underwritten by the Stewart Family. The Jimmy Stewart Legacy Award and $5,000 cash prize is awarded to one film in the HIFF lineup that best demonstrates the triumph of the human spirit through determination and the defiance of odds, humble vulnerability, and courage in the face of adversity.
The 31st Heartland International Film Festival invited attendees to get lost in more than 115 films including 14 U.S. & World Premieres and 20 Special Presentation Titles. Screenings continue through Sunday, October 16 at Newfields, Living Room Theaters and the Glendale Landmark 12 Theater. The majority of award-winning films still have in-person and virtual screening opportunities over the weekend. Additional in-person screenings have been added to the schedule in six categories: Narrative Feature Grand Prize Winner, Documentary Feature Grand Prize Winner, Humor and Humanity Award Winner, Documentary Premiere Winner, Narrative Premiere Winner and the Jimmy Stewart Legacy Award Winner. View award winners' screenings here.
Audience Choice Award Winners will be announced on Monday, October 17 in the categories of Overall, Narrative, Documentary, Special Presentation Narrative, Special Presentation Documentary, Horror and Indiana Spotlight. Voting for audience choice awards will close at 11:59 PM EDT on Sunday, October 17.
The full film lineup, schedule and tickets for the 31st Heartland International Film Festival can be found at HeartlandFilmFestival.org.
2022 HEARTLAND INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL AWARD WINNERS & UPDATED SCREENING SCHEDULE
Grand Prize for Narrative Feature ($20,000 Grand Prize)
"Our Father, the Devil," Directed by Ellie Foumbi (USA)
Marie Cissé works as the head chef at a retirement home in small-town France. Her day-to-day life spent caring for residents and teasing a potential new romance is disrupted by the arrival of Father Patrick, an African priest whom she recognizes from a terrifying episode in her homeland. As he further endears himself to the residents and staff, Marie is forced to decide how best to deal with this reminder of her troubled past.
Grand Prize for Documentary Feature ($20,000 Grand Prize)
"Hidden Letters," Directed by Violet Feng, Co-Director Zhao Qing (China, USA, Norway)
Hidden Letters tells the story of two Chinese women trying to balance their lives as independent women in modern China while confronting the traditional identity that defines but also oppresses them. Connected through their love for Nushu—a centuries-old secret text shared amongst women—each of them transforms through a pivotal period of their lives and takes a step closer to becoming the individuals they know they can be.
Jimmy Stewart Legacy Award ($5,000 Cash Prize)
"Wildcat," by Directors Melissa Lesh, Trevor Frost (USA, Peru)
Back from war in Afghanistan, a young British soldier struggling with depression and PTSD finds a second chance in the Amazon rainforest when he meets an American scientist, and together they foster an orphaned baby ocelot. Special presentation of Amazon Studios.
Best Narrative Feature Premiere ($2,500 Cash Prize)
"The Grotto," Directed by Joanna Gleason (USA) World Premiere
When her fiancé dies unexpectedly, Alice Kendall inherits half ownership of The Grotto, a struggling desert nightclub where she discovers eccentric performers and a heartbreaking secret. As Christmas approaches, Alice is on the brink of a leap of faith as forces both seen and unseen beckon her toward her future.
Best Documentary Feature Premiere ($2,500 Cash Prize)
"When My Sleeping Dragon Woke," Directed by Chuck Schultz, Judah Lev Dickstein (USA) World Premiere
A little girl lives in a custodian apartment inside a New York Public Library, where her father stokes its coal furnace 24/7. Decades later, the actor Sharon Washington chooses the theater to write her modern-day fairytale filled with real and imagined dragons, family secrets, forgiveness, and a world of books.
Richard D. Propes Narrative Social Impact Award ($2,000 Cash Prize)
"Klondike," Directed by Maryna Er Gorbach (Ukraine)
July 2014. The story of an Ukrainian family living on the border of Ukraine and Russia that finds themselves at the center of an international air crash catastrophe. Sundance Film Festival: Directing Award Winner, World Dramatic Competition.
Richard D. Propes Documentary Social Impact Award ($2,000 Cash Prize)
"Butterfly in the Sky," Directed by Bradford Thomason, Brett Whitcomb (USA)
Butterfly in the Sky tells the story of the beloved PBS children's series Reading Rainbow, its iconic host LeVar Burton, and the challenges its creators faced in cultivating a love of reading through television.
Indiana Spotlight Award ($2,000 Cash Prize)
"The B1G Story: George Taliaferro," Directed by Tucker Gragg, Kevin Weaver (USA)
"The B1G Story: George Taliaferro" documents the life of football legend George Taliaferro, a pioneer whose sacrifices opened doors for generations of Black football players. The son of a steel worker in Gary, Indiana, George (1927-2018) earned regional recognition as a football prodigy for his ability to play seven positions with outrageous athleticism. But when George left the safety of his home community in 1945 to begin his college football career, he found himself unable to live in the dorms or eat in local restaurants. You know Jackie Robinson's name. Jesse Owens' too. See the film that adds George Taliaferro to the pantheon of athletes that broke racial barriers and influenced generations.
Horror Award ($2,000 Cash Prize)
"Anacoreta," Directed by Jeremy Schuetze (Canada) World Premiere
An actress heads on a mountain trip with her boyfriend to meet his friends for the first time. As they head out it becomes clear that he is filming his latest project, and he has more planned than they realize.
Humor & Humanity Award ($2,000 Cash Prize)
"Wake Up, Leonard," Directed by Kat Mills Martin (USA)
"Wake Up, Leonard" is a feel-good movie about feeling bad...and failing to "stay on the vibe." It's the painfully funny story of a broken-hearted seeker's quest for wellness. An improvised feature shot mid-pandemic, "Leonard" explores mental health, queer love, self-acceptance, and if it's really a wonderful life?
About Heartland Film, Inc.
Heartland Film is a nonprofit arts organization that runs the 11-day Heartland International Film Festival in October, the Academy Award®-Qualifying Indy Shorts International Film Festival in July, the Truly Moving Picture Award and other year-round programs. Based in Indianapolis, Indiana, Heartland Film was founded in 1991 with the mission to curate, promote and celebrate thoughtful and engaging films from diverse perspectives. Over the years, Heartland Film has presented $3.5 million in cash prizes – the largest total amount awarded by any film festival in North America – presented 200+ studio films with the Truly Moving Picture Award, and showcased more than 2,000 feature and short films, including eight Oscar®-winning titles. The 31st Heartland International Film Festival is taking place October 6-16, 2022, and the 5th Indy Shorts International Film Festival was held July 19-24, 2022. For more information, visit www.HeartlandFilm.org.