Submissions FAQ: https://www.heartlandfilm.org/faqs

Submit your feature film now for consideration to the 31st Heartland International Film Festival, set for October 6-16, 2022 in Indianapolis! Known for hospitality, cash prizes, Awards season sneak peeks, and quality programming, HIFF31 will host a range of live events and screenings and bestow $60,000 in cash prizes.

SEEKING FEATURE FILMS longer than 40 minutes. SHORT FILMS (40 minutes or shorter) SUBMIT ONLY TO INDY SHORTS: https://filmfreeway.com/HeartlandFilmIndyShorts

COVID-19 Response/Planning: Please note that the festival went hybrid in 2021 with in-person and secure virtual screenings via Eventive in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Safety is our top priority, and although plans are in place to primarily return to theaters in October 2022, the contingency plan will be a similar hybrid model of limited in-person and virtual screenings. Cash prizes WILL remain intact regardless of in-theater and/or virtual screenings.

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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 200+ 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. Heartland Film has officially signed on to the 5050x2020 Parity Pledge and 50% of the Festival’s lineup was directed by women at the 2020 edition.

Top Five Reasons to Submit to the Heartland International Film Festival & Indy Shorts
1. Cash prizes, ranging from $2,000 - $20,000 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 2021.
4. Artistic integrity: transparent selection process offering screener feedback by request after the Festival concludes.
5. Regarded for our Hoosier hospitality with a strong community between filmmakers, moviegoers, and volunteers.

The 31st Heartland International Film Festival will take place in Indianapolis, Indiana, USA, October 6-16, 2022. 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 International Film Festival selects and honors films in several categories:

- Narrative Feature ($20,000 Grand Prize)
- Documentary Feature ($20,000 Grand Prize)
- Richard D. Propes Narrative Social Impact Award ($2,000 cash prize)
- Richard D. Propes Documentary Social Impact Award ($2,000 cash prize)
- Indiana Spotlight ($2,000 cash prize)
- Heartland Horror ($2,000 cash prize)
- Jimmy Stewart Legacy Award ($5,000 cash prize)
- Humor & Humanity Award ($2,000 cash prize)
- Best Narrative Premiere Award ($2,500 cash prize)
- Best Documentary Premiere Award ($2,500 cash prize)
- Audience Choice Winners (Overall, Narrative, Documentary, Indiana Spotlight, Horror - no cash prizes)
- FIPRESCI Award for Best US Narrative Directorial Debut (no cash prize)
- Indiana Film Journalists Association Award for Best Special Presentation (no cash prize)

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WAIVER POLICY: Please do not contact us requesting waivers or reduced submission fees. As a nonprofit organization, our annual operations and the process of viewing the volume of submissions we receive are very costly. Thus, waivers are only reserved for Indy Shorts and Heartland International Film Festival alumni. We strive to keep our fees as reasonable as possible, and encourage all applicants to take advantage of our early and official deadlines to save on submission fees.

We do not offer Student waivers, but we offer discounted Student pricing for all categories.

ALUMNI WAIVERS: If you have directed a short or feature film that has screened at Indy Shorts or Heartland Film Festival in the past, please email submissions@heartlandfilm.org with your film’s title and the year it screened.

Awarding a combined $90,000 in cash prizes for 2022 between HIFF and Indy Shorts, Heartland Film has bestowed more than $3.6 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, Best Documentary Short Film, and Best Animated 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.

- Narrative Feature ($20,000 Grand Prize)
- Documentary Feature ($20,000 Grand Prize)
- Richard D. Propes Narrative Social Impact Award ($2,000 cash prize)
- Richard D. Propes Documentary Social Impact Award ($2,000 cash prize)
- Indiana Spotlight ($2,000 cash prize)
- Heartland Horror ($2,000 cash prize)
- Jimmy Stewart Legacy Award ($5,000 cash prize)
- Humor & Humanity Award ($2,000 cash prize)
- Best Narrative Premiere Award ($2,500 cash prize)
- Best Documentary Premiere Award ($2,500 cash prize)
- Audience Choice Winners (Overall, Narrative, Documentary, Indiana Spotlight, Horror - no cash prizes)
- FIPRESCI Award for Best US Narrative Directorial Debut (no cash prize)
- Indiana Film Journalists Association Award for Best Special Presentation (no cash prize)

Films selected as Official Selections are eligible for Grand Prize Awards, the Jimmy Stewart Legacy Award, Humor & Humanity Award, and Audience Choice Awards. Special Presentations (primarily major studio sneak peeks/films with major distribution) are not eligible for Grand Prizes. Films making their US or World premiere are eligible for premiere awards.

INDIANA SPOTLIGHT
We are excited to exhibit films with ties to the Hoosier state for the sixth year of our Indiana Spotlight Competition. Films in competition for the Indiana Spotlight Award and $2,000 must either include principal production (director or producer) or cast (leading actor/actress) from or currently living in Indiana and/or the film was shot in Indiana. Total number of category films to be determined to compete for one Indiana Spotlight Award.

THE JIMMY STEWART LEGACY AWARD
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. $5,000 cash prize.

RICHARD D. PROPES SOCIAL IMPACT AWARDS
Will honor films 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, $2,000 cash prize each. All films eligible.

HUMOR & HUMANITY AWARD
The winning film will best tastefully combine comedy and pathos to inspire filmmakers and audiences through the transformative power of film. Finalist and Official Selection titles are eligible. $2,000 cash prize.

HEARTLAND HORROR
The winning film from the horror category will take home the $2,000 cash prize.

Please note that cash prizes will ONLY be awarded to the film’s director and a completed W-9 or W-8BEN are required for disbursement. Cash prizes may be donated to a nonprofit/charitable cause if approved by the director.

SELECTION PROCESS
Each submitted film goes through an involved judging process, and is screened 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. Heartland Film reserves the right to stop watching your film after 15 minutes if the reviewer determines that the film’s technical quality is not at a baseline level for festival inclusion.

Films submitted to Heartland International Film Festival are judged on their overall artistic and technical quality and are generally story-driven films that do more than entertain, with the ability to shift perspectives, make an impact on audiences, or feature a fresh perspective.

ELIGIBILITY
To be eligible for Heartland International Film Festival, films must comply with the following:
- The film must have been completed on or after January 1, 2021, and be longer than 40:00:00 minutes in length.
- The film must be available for up to three in-person screenings during the Festival, October 6-16, 2022 and a secure virtual offering with an attendance cap and US geofence. Selected films cannot play theatrically in the Central Indiana area from the time of selection through the duration of the event.
- There must not be a screening fee attached to the film.
- Heartland requires a Digital Cinema Package (DCP) for every film in addition to a high-quality digital backup file. No Blu-rays, DVDs or 35mm prints will be screened at the Festival.
- The film cannot require dual projection (interlock) or separate soundtracks.
- Non-English language films must be subtitled. Please do not send us an un-subtitled version with the intention of providing a subtitled version later. Please ensure that all subtitles are hardcoded to your video file as opposed to using hidden subtitles that need to be turned on in order to display on the screen.
- Titles streaming prior to the Festival via TVOD are still eligible for consideration (SVOD titles are not eligible). Titles with a wide broadcast release/wide online availability (YouTube, PBS, etc.) at any point prior to the Festival are not eligible. Any change in release plans for invited films must be discussed with the Festival ASAP.

PREMIERE STATUS
Premiere status has no bearing on whether a film is selected. Heartland Film does not encourage your film being available on YouTube, Vimeo, streaming platforms, theatrical release, etc. prior to the event, but that does not have any bearing on eligibility. Any film invited to play at the Festival MUST communicate to the Artistic Director if release plans change once the film is programmed. Failure to communicate may result in the film being pulled from the lineup. Once a premiere status is locked in it cannot be changed.

RULES FOR SUBMISSION
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.
- A completed/paid official entry via this site.
- Multiple submissions must be provided as individual submissions.
- If submitting a film that is not yet complete, place "WORK IN PROGRESS" on a title card at the beginning of your film - but please wait and submit the most complete version of your film as possible. We cannot guarantee that updated files will be screened.
- Films submitted in the wrong categories to save on submission costs will be disqualified and fees will be kept by Heartland Film, Inc.

NOTIFICATION
All selected titles are considered Official Selections and are eligible for the Grand Prizes. Official Selections are also eligible for other prizes, such as the Jimmy Stewart Legacy Award, Best Premieres, Social Impact Awards, Humor & Humanity Award, and Audience Choice.

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. “Special Presentation” films are generally titles that already have major distribution or have had their broadcast premiere prior to the Heartland International Film Festival.

SELECTED FILMS
Heartland Film, Inc. reserves the right to withdraw any film from the lineup, before or during the event. All selected films/representatives warrant that they have all the necessary rights to exhibit all elements of my submission, including music rights. Chosen filmmakers shall indemnify and hold harmless Heartland Film from and against any and all claims, liabilities, losses, damages, and expenses (including but not limited to attorney’s fees, and costs of the court) which may be incurred by reason of any claim involving copyright, trademark, credits, publicity, screening, and loss of or damage to the exhibition files provided.

In 2021, 128 feature films were selected from more than 1,000 feature submissions.

Overall Rating
Quality
Value
Communication
Hospitality
Networking
  • Christine Weatherup

    I can't say enough wonderful things about Heartland. They are true film lovers and pulled off an amazing hybrid festival. On top of that, they've been communicative every step of the way and helped answer any question I've had. I look forward to coming back!

    October 2021
  • Carl Moberg

    It was a pleasure for our film to have been selected for Heartland! Communication was great and the festival seemed to have pulled of yet another great edition of the festival. Hopefully we can attend next time!

    October 2021
  • Diana Zuros

    Wonderful festival, exceeded my expectations. Unbelievably friendly and welcoming staff. Greg and Adam went out of their way to accommodate us last minute, from arranging an ASL interpreter to providing CC device during screenings for the lead actor. Very well organized festival. Really enjoyed evening game nights with complimentary food, where we met some wonderful people. Overall a fantastic experience. Thank you all for selecting the film and for your hospitality!!!

    October 2021
  • Aaron Hosé

    Fantastic experience overall. Great programming, state-of-the-art venues, and ample networking opportunities with fellow filmmakers. Greg, Julia and the rest of the HIFF team were warm, communicative and attentive the whole way through, from our selection, to attendance, to award win. We look forward to continuing our relationship with the Heartland family, THANK YOU!

    October 2021
  • Tarabu Betserai Kirkland

    This was a terrific festival. 100 Years From Mississippi is so honored to have been included in this year's lineup. Communication and execution of the festival by the Heartland team was outstanding. Thank you for a job well done. We look forward to participating at Heartland with our next project.

    October 2021