Hoosier documentary filmmakers pitched their unfinished projects to a live audience for a chance to win $10,000 to support the production of their film.
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(October 9, 2023) INDIANAPOLIS - This year, during the 32nd Heartland International Film Festival, history was made at the first-ever documentary film pitching competition just for Hoosier filmmakers.
PitchDox, presented by the Indiana nonprofit streaming service Hoodox, invited filmmakers to submit their unfinished documentary projects (at any stage from concept to post production) for a chance to win a $10,000 financial award to support the production of their film. PitchDox received 28 submissions in its inaugural year (submissions for 2023 are now closed), and the volunteer team at Hoodox painstakingly narrowed the list down to five finalists.
During the PitchDox Main Event, held at the Kan-Kan Cinema and Restaurant on Saturday, October 7, the five PitchDox finalists presented live pitches for their films, explaining the stories, their production timelines, and how the award money would impact their success. Immediately following the pitches, a jury including Dr. Eric Winston of the Indianapolis Black Documentary Film Festival, Morgan Snyder of Visit Indy/Film Indy, Megan Telligman of Indiana Humanities, and Michael Ault of Heartland Film, cast their votes which, combined with audience votes, determined who walked away with the $10,000 Grand Prize.
Attendees at the PitchDox Main Event presentation on Saturday, October 7.
As a surprise during the award presentation, Hoodox Executive Director Rocky Walls announced that, thanks to an anonymous donor, an extra $4,000 in awards would be given in addition to the $10,000 Grand Prize - a $2,500 Audience Choice Award and a $500 award to each of the three remaining finalists.
Denise Blane - 2023 PitchDox Winner
The sold-out crowd exploded in applause and cheers when the Grand Prize winner, "Justice 4 Three" directed by Denise Blane, was announced. Blane captivated the audience and jurors with her pitch, describing the horrific story of a tragic hate crime in Fort Wayne, Indiana that claimed the lives of two young men (one of which was Blane’s own cousin) and left a third near death. Blane hopes her film will pay homage to the lives lost, celebrate the resilience of the human spirit, and passionately advocate for a future where hatred is eradicated and justice prevails.
The Audience Choice Award recipient, Mid Way directed by Will Wertz, was pitched as a poetic feature documentary filmed at the Indiana State Fair in 2022 and 2023. The film promises to offer an immersive exploration of games, rides, and people, prompting the question, "Are we having fun?"
The three remaining finalists included "The Invisible Crown" directed by Amelia Kramer and produced by Hannah Myers Lindgren, "Mirrors of Common Destiny" directed by André Guima, and "It Takes a Village" produced by Melissa Barnett.
When asked whether PitchDox would happen again next year, Walls enthusiastically says, “Yes! One thing I know for sure is that a lot of people left this year’s inaugural PitchDox with a new appreciation for how impressive our filmmaking community in Indiana really is.”
Hoodox Executive Director Rocky Walls with PitchDox Grand Prize Winner Denise Blane
Hoodox is a non-profit organization and needs financial support to continue initiatives like PitchDox, but Rocky Walls is confident the community will rise to the occasion, especially after seeing the response from the inaugural PitchDox. More information about Hoodox can be found at www.watchhoodox.com.
"Thank you to Hoodox for hosting the first ever PitchDox event during the Heartland International Film Festival. I had the opportunity to be a panel judge to hear the presentations, and choosing a filmmaker to receive the $10,000 Grand Prize was not easy," said Heartland Film President Michael Ault. "The event elevated our festival, and it was exciting to see so much support from the audience for the future of Indiana filmmakers. Heartland Film congratulates all of the filmmakers who submitted their project to PitchDox. We hope to see your films at a future Heartland Film Festival."
The 32nd Heartland International Film Festival continues through October 15 at five theaters around the Indianapolis area. With 120+ films including seven Indiana Spotlights, 22 Special Presentations and 19 U.S./World Premiere, you won't be able to look away.
More information on the festival's film schedule and tickets can be found at www.HeartlandFilmFestival.org.
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 ten Oscar®-winning short film titles. The 32nd Heartland International Film Festival is scheduled for October 5-15, 2023, and the 6th Indy Shorts International Film Festival was held July 18-23, 2023. For more information, visit HeartlandFilm.org.
Hoodox is a nonprofit arts organization that runs the first and only streaming service featuring exclusively nonfiction, Indiana-focused movies and shows. Based in Indiana and operated by an all-volunteer, all-Hoosier Board of Directors, Hoodox launched in June 2021, aiming to build an active, involved, and fully supportive community around documentary film in Indiana. With around 100 titles available for streaming anytime, anywhere Hoosiers and Hoosiers-at-heart can tap into movies and shows to stay connected, spark conversations, and create positive change. Learn more at watchhoodox.com.