UPDATE: Heartland International Film Festival has EXPANDED to an all-new shorts fest! All short film official selections, finalists, and High School films will now be featured at Indy Shorts from July 26-29, 2018 in Indianapolis, with winners featured at HIFF in October.

FEATURE FILMS SUBMIT HERE: Submit to Heartland International Film Festival (41 minutes or longer)

SHORT FILMS SUBMIT ONLY TO INDY SHORTS: Submissions are now closed for 2018 - more info at https://filmfreeway.com/HeartlandFilmIndyShorts


Heartland Film is a nonprofit arts organization founded in 1991 with the mission to inspire filmmakers and audiences through the transformative power of film. Since the inaugural Heartland International Film Festival (HIFF) in 1992, the fest has grown from a 5-day event with less than 20 films to an 11-day celebration featuring more than 213 independent films, 215 visiting filmmakers and 300 film screenings. HIFF has built a reputation on its impactful movies, the connections audiences make with visiting filmmakers, the overall hospitality and intimacy of the experience, and bringing big Hollywood names – like Robert Downey Jr., Jessica Biel, Rob Reiner, and Oscar® winner Geoffrey Rush – to the Hoosier state.

Top Five Reasons to Submit to the Heartland Film Festival
1. Cash prizes, ranging from $500 - $25,000 per prize.
2. Academy Award-qualifying festival in the Short Films category.*
3. One of MovieMaker Magazine’s Top 50 Film Festivals Worth the Entry Fee in 2017.
4. Artistic integrity: transparent selection process offering screener feedback by request after the Festival.
5. Regarded for our Hoosier hospitality with a strong community between filmmakers, moviegoers, and volunteers.

The 27th annual Heartland International Film Festival will take place in Indianapolis, Indiana, USA, October 11-21, 2018. Filmmakers participating in the Festival attend numerous screenings of their films and other special events designed to allow interaction between filmmakers and audiences. Filmmakers from around the world are invited to submit films; student filmmakers are welcomed in each category as well. The Heartland Film Festival selects and honors films in several categories:

- Narrative Feature
- Documentary Feature
- Social Impact Awards
- Indiana Spotlight
- Jimmy Stewart Legacy Award
- Best Premiere Awards

Awarding a combined $110,000+ in cash prizes for 2018 between HIFF and Indy Shorts, Heartland Film has bestowed more than $3.1 million to independent filmmakers since 1992 – the largest total amount awarded by any film festival in North America.

*Indy Shorts 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.

Grand Prize for Best Narrative Feature $25,000
$1,000 cash prize per non-Grand Prize-winning Finalist (four total prizes)

Grand Prize for Best Documentary Feature $25,000
$1,000 cash prize per non-Grand Prize-winning Finalist (four total prizes)

The Jimmy Stewart Legacy Award $5,000
Best Narrative Feature Premiere $3,500
Best Documentary Feature Premiere $3,500
Indiana Spotlight Competition $2,500
Social Impact Award, Narrative Feature $2,500
Social Impact Award, Documentary Feature $2,500
Best Foreign Language Contender $5,000
Audience Choice Award Winner, Narrative Feature
Audience Choice Award Winner, Documentary Feature
Audience Choice Award Winner, Special Presentation
Audience Choice Award Winner, Indiana Spotlight

Films selected as Finalists are eligible for Grand Prize Awards, the Jimmy Stewart Legacy Award, and Audience Choice Awards. Official Selections and Finalists are both are eligible for the Jimmy Stewart Legacy Award, Best Premiere Awards, and Audience Choice Awards. Indiana Spotlight selections are eligible for the Indiana Spotlight Audience Choice Award and Best Premiere Awards.

We are excited to exhibit films with ties to the Hoosier state for the fourth year of our Indiana Spotlight Competition. Films in competition for the Indiana Spotlight Award and $2,500 cash prize are films that meet at least one of the following requirements:
At least one of the filmmakers is a current Indiana resident
At least one of the filmmakers is an Indiana native
The majority of the film was shot in Indiana

The Jimmy Stewart Legacy Award will include a $5,000 cash prize for a single winner, selected from the Festival’s feature-length narrative and documentary titles. The winning film will best embody the ongoing legacy of actor and national hero Jimmy Stewart and will demonstrate the triumph of the human spirit through determination and the defiance of odds, humble vulnerability, and courage in the face of adversity.

Will honor films (Finalists or Official Selections) that showcase stories centered on the fight for equality, justice, or feature stories/subjects that have made an impact on society. One narrative and one documentary winner, $2,500 each.

Each submitted film goes through an involved judging process, and is screened in its entirety by at least one member of the selection committee. Selected films could eventually be seen more than six times by members of the screening committees, programming staff, and juries.

Films submitted to Heartland International Film Festival are judged on their overall artistic and technical quality. Additionally, each film must be engaging and entertaining, but do more than simply entertain. Selected films have a transformative power that impacts audiences by educating, inspiring, challenging or shifting perspectives - ultimately Heartland International Film Festival programs story-driven films that do much more than entertain.

Please visit http://heartlandfilm.org/festival/submit/ for a full list of 2018 Rules and Regulations

To be eligible for the Heartland Film Festival, films must comply with the following:
- The film must have been completed on or after January 1, 2017 and be longer than 40 minutes in length. Short films (40 minutes or less) must be submitted to Indy Shorts, the separate, all-short-film expansion festival (July 26-29, 2018).
- The film must be available for 3-4 screenings during the Festival, October 11-21, 2018.
- There must not be a screening fee attached to the film. Heartland will not pay a screening fee to any film featured in the Festival; there are no exceptions.
- Heartland requires a Digital Cinema Package (DCP) for every film. No Blu-rays, DVDs or 35mm prints will be screened at the Festival.
- Premiere status has no bearing on whether a film is selected. Heartland Film does not encourage your film being available on YouTube, Vimeo, theatrical release, etc. prior to the event, but that does not have any bearing on eligibility.
- The film cannot require dual projection (interlock) or separate soundtracks.
- Non-English films must be subtitled.
- Films competing for Best U.S./World Premiere must hold their U.S. or world premiere at the Heartland International Film Festival between Oct. 11-21, 2018. If it is found that the film has already played, or is scheduled to play prior to the Heartland International Film Festival, the film is no longer eligible for the Premiere Awards and may be pulled from the lineup at the discretion of Heartland Film. Once a film is confirmed as a premiere title it cannot play any other festival prior to the scheduled Heartland screening date, regardless of any other festivals or events you have submitted to before Heartland.

In addition to the eligibility requirements listed above, filmmakers must comply with the following submission rules to be considered as a Finalist in their respective category:
- The submitting filmmaker must be either the producer or director of the film.
Entries are accepted exclusively through FilmFreeway.com.
- A completed official entry on FilmFreeway.com must be digitally signed by the filmmaker.
- Payment of the non-refundable entry fee must accompany the submission. Payment can be made by credit card, check or money order payable in U.S. dollars to Heartland Film, Inc. The filmmaker will be responsible for bank fees associated with any check returned to Heartland by the bank as unpaid.
- All items on the materials checklist (below) must be provided by the entry deadline.
- Multiple submissions must be provided as individual submissions.
- Films submitted in the wrong categories to save on submission costs will be disqualified and fees will be kept by Heartland Film, Inc. (example: filmmaker submits to High School Film Competition but was not a student at the time the film was made) - this includes filmmaker claims of being a student when they are not indeed students.

All entries must submit the following information to be considered for the Festival:
- Link to a functional streaming video file (YouTube, Vimeo, etc.) in high definition 720p or 1080p. If the link is password-protected, a working password is mandatory.
- Completed and digitally signed submission on FilmFreeway.com.
- Entry fee.

Filmmakers (producer or director) for films selected as Finalists in their respective category will be notified by phone around mid-August, 2017 (via supplied email address). All other filmmakers will be notified by email after that date or before mid-September, 2017. Official Selections and Finalists will be publicly announced on September 13, 2018, at the Heartland International Film Festival Announcement Party. Heartland reserves the right to release basic information about selected films as early as August.

Films are ultimately chosen as either Finalists, which remain in competition for the Grand Prizes, or Official Selections, which screen out of competition for the Grand Prizes (though they may remain eligible for other prizes).
10 filmmakers will be selected as Finalists in the following categories:
- 5 Narrative Features
- 5 Documentary Features

Films are ultimately chosen as either Finalists, which remain in competition for the Grand Prizes, or Official Selections, which screen out of competition for the Grand Prizes (though they may remain eligible for Best Premiere or Indiana Spotlight prizes, as described below).

All submitted films that meet the below eligibility requirements are considered “in competition” to be selected as a Heartland Film Festival Finalist at the time of submission. In September 2018, Finalists are publicly announced. Only Finalists are eligible for the Grand Prize in each category. Grand Prize winners are announced at the Heartland International Film Festival Awards Party on Saturday, October 20, 2018. Filmmakers must be present to win, as described below.

Films that are not honored as Finalists may be invited to screen as “Official Selections” and are eligible for the Audience Choice Awards. Official Selections are no longer “in competition” for the Grand Prizes: only Finalists will be eligible for Grand Prizes.
Feature-length films having their U.S. or World Premiere at Heartland are eligible for Best Premiere Awards. Indiana films meeting eligibility requirements for the Indiana Spotlight competition are eligible for the award in that category.

Other films may be invited to screen at the Festival as a “Special Presentation” or in a “To Be Announced” time slot; these may be eligible for the Audience Choice Award depending on when the films are scheduled.

Films selected as Finalists will be programmed to screen up to four times during the Festival. Official Selections will screen up to three times.

In 2017, 213 films were selected from more than 3,500 submissions.

Overall Rating
  • Benjamin Dewhurst

    Heartland is THE film festival of the Midwest. The hospitality, events, and audiences are second to none. If I had to choose a "home town" film festival, e.g. a place that truly made me/my film/my crew feel at home, then it'd be Heartland. Highly recommend.

    April 2018
  • Sylvia Borges

    It was a wonderful experience with great movies, kind, caring and open people and a open-minded audience. I hope to come back to the Heartland Film Festival one day.

    November 2016
    Response from festival:

    Thank you, Slyvia, and congrats again on being a Finalist in 2016! We enjoyed having you in Indianapolis and hope to have you back again soon.