The 32nd Heartland International Film Festival (HIFF) announced the 2023 award winners and presented more than $60,000 in cash prizes to recipients at the Awards Presentation at The Jazz Kitchen on Saturday, Oct. 14. The 11-day festival concluded on Sunday, Oct. 15, with a sold-out screening of “The Holdovers” from Focus Features directed by Alexander Payne and starring Paul Giamatti.
In 2023, the Heartland International Film Festival was named one of the Top 25 Coolest Film Festivals in the World by MovieMaker Magazine. Living up to this recognition, the 2023 Heartland International Film Festival’s theme promised attendees “You can’t look away” from the 120 independent films including 19 world/U.S. premieres, 22 special presentations from major distributors and seven Indiana Spotlight films. More than 160 filmmakers were in town for Q&As following their screenings. The 32nd edition of the festival hosted 238 in-person screenings/events, 6,500+ virtual streams and field trips for 1,620 Indiana students, ages from kindergarten through college.
At the Awards Ceremony on Saturday evening, major cash prizes were awarded to “Simón” from Director Diego Vicentini ($20,000 Narrative Feature Grand Prize), “We Dare to Dream” from Waad al-Kateab ($20,000 Documentary Feature Grand Prize) and “Hard Miles” from Director RJ Daniel Hanna ($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.
Matthew Modine attended the Awards Celebration to accept the Pioneering Spirit Award. He has two films at the Heartland International Film Festival. He is the executive producer of the documentary “Downwind,” and he stars in “Hard Miles.”
“Congratulations to all of the 2023 Heartland International Film Festival award-winning filmmakers,” said Artistic Director Greg Sorvig. “Your films have captured the attention and admiration of our jury, and it has been an honor to showcase your work.”
Audience Choice Award Winners were announced on Monday, Oct. 16. The Overall Audience Choice Award went to “Brave the Dark.” “Rustin” from Netflix took home the Narrative Special Presentation Audience Choice Award, and “The Lionheart” from HBO and TIME Studios received the Documentary Special Presentation Audience Choice Award. The Narrative Feature Grand Prize-winning film, “Simón,” received the Narrative Audience Choice Award. The Heartland International Film Festival attendees also voted on winners in the categories of Documentary, Horror and Indiana Spotlight.
There was a tie for the Indiana Film Journalists Association (IFJA) Best Special Presentation Award. “All of Us Strangers” from Searchlight Pictures and “The Holdovers” from Focus Features share this honor.
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 and other year-round programs. More information about the festivals and programming can be found at HeartlandFilm.org.