Heartland Film has announced the full lineup of film titles ahead of the 32nd Annual Heartland International Film Festival (HIFF), set for Oct. 5-15 across five locations in the Indianapolis area. Named one of MovieMaker Magazine’s 2023 “Top 25 Coolest Film Festivals in the World,” the festival has become a major Midwest stop for fall titles on the awards season circuit. Last year’s closing night film, “The Whale,” went on to win two Academy Awards®, including Best Actor in a Leading Role for Brendan Fraser in addition to Best Makeup and Hairstyling.
Opening Night of HIFF 2023 will showcase “The Lionheart” from HBO and TIME Studios, a documentary about the late two-time Indy 500 winner Dan Wheldon, 10 years after his shocking death. Centerpiece will feature “Rustin” from Netflix, starring Emmy and Heartland Film award-winning actor Colman Domingo as Civil Rights leader Bayard Rustin. Closing Night will spotlight “The Holdovers” from Focus Features, directed by Academy Award®-winner Alexander Payne and starring Academy Award®-nominee Paul Giamatti.
Both Domingo and Giamatti have been featured on early lists as top contenders for best leading actor heading into awards season. Domingo was honored by Heartland Film with the Pioneering Spirit Award at the 2022 Indy Shorts International Film Festival. His short films, “New Moon” and “North Star,” were official selections at the festival and went on to win Audience Choice Awards.
“The Lionheart” / Midwest Premiere / Director: Laura Brownson / HBO, TIME Studios
Opening Night Presented by The Klapper Family Foundation
Thursday, October 5, The Toby at Newfields
When Dan Wheldon, two-time Indy 500 Champion, is killed in one of the worst crashes in IndyCar history, it shakes motorsports to its core. Now, 10 years later, Dan’s two boys, Sebastian and Oliver, follow in their father’s footsteps as they work through their loss the only way they know how: getting behind the wheel to race.
“Indianapolis is the racing capital of the world, and ‘The Lionheart’ is a perfect choice for opening night as a tribute to Dan Wheldon, who became a legend in our city,” said Heartland Film Artistic Director Greg Sorvig. “Director Laura Brownson has crafted a moving and intimate tribute about the man, his family and their legacy.” Executive produced by Ian Orefice, Loren Hammonds, Rebecca Teitel, Connor Schell, Aaron Cohen, Kristen Lappas, Bryn Mooser, Justin Lacob, Andy Hsieh and Adrian Sussmann. Produced by Maclain Way, Chapman Way, Laura Brownson and Carolyn Craddock.
“Rustin” / Midwest Premiere / Director: George C. Wolfe / Netflix Originals
Centerpiece presented by IndyStar/LOCALiQ
Wednesday, Oct. 11, The Toby at Newfields
The architect of 1963’s momentous March on Washington, Bayard Rustin, was one of the greatest activists and organizers the world has ever known. He challenged authority, never apologized for who he was, what he believed, or who he desired. And he did not back down. He made history, and in turn, he was forgotten. Directed by DGA Award and five-time Tony Award winner George C. Wolfe and starring Emmy Award winner Colman Domingo, Rustin shines a long overdue spotlight on the extraordinary man who, alongside giants like the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., Adam Clayton Powell Jr., and Ella Baker, dared to imagine a different world, and inspired a movement in a march toward freedom. Produced by Academy Award-winner Bruce Cohen, Higher Ground’s Tonia Davis and George C. Wolfe, the film features an all-star cast including Chris Rock, Glynn Turman, Aml Ameen, Gus Halper, CCH Pounder, Da’Vine Joy Randolph, Johnny Ramey, Michael Potts, with Jeffrey Wright and Audra McDonald. Written by Julian Breece and Dustin Lance Black. Story by Julian Breece. The film’s score was composed by three-time Grammy-winning saxophonist, composer, bandleader and music historian Branford Marsalis. Multiple Grammy Award-winner Lenny Kravitz contributed an original song, “Road To Freedom.”
“Colman Domingo was honored last year by Heartland Film with our Pioneering Spirit Award, an honor bestowed to artists at the top of their craft and in the prime of their career,” said Sorvig. “His performance in ‘Rustin’ embodies that honor, and we are thrilled to share this performance and story with audiences as our Centerpiece title.”
Closing Night | “The Holdovers”
“The Holdovers” / Midwest Premiere / Director: Alexander Payne / Focus Features
Closing Night Presented by The Klapper Family Foundation
Sunday, Oct. 15, The Toby at Newfields
From acclaimed director Alexander Payne, “The Holdovers” follows a curmudgeonly instructor (Paul Giamatti) at a New England prep school who is forced to remain on campus during Christmas break to babysit the handful of students with nowhere to go. Eventually, he forms an unlikely bond with one of them — a damaged, brainy troublemaker (newcomer Dominic Sessa) — and with the school’s head cook, who has just lost a son in Vietnam (Da’Vine Joy Randolph). Written by David Hemingson. Executive produced by Andrew Golov, Thom Zadra and Chris Stinson. Produced by Mark Johnson, P.G.A., Bill Block and David Hemingson.
“Alexander Payne is a director I have admired for years, and it’s a thrill to celebrate his latest project as our Closing Night film,” said Sorvig. “Paul Giamatti leads a strong and intimate ensemble that will really connect with our audiences on a high note to end the 32nd edition of the Heartland International Film Festival.”
Beyond these three screenings, the 32nd HIFF, with the theme “YOU CAN’T LOOK AWAY,” will feature more than 120 films across 11 days, both in person and virtual. The full lineup, including 18 World/U.S. premiere titles and 44 regional premieres, is now available to view at heartlandfilmfestival.org.