The Heartland Film Festival in Indianapolis isn't your typical fest. Launched in 1991, its goal is "to recognize and honor filmmakers whose work explores the human journey by artistically expressing hope and respect for the positive values of life." Uplifting and inspiring movies, in other words, not the depressing downers stereotypically associated with independent film fests.

Heartland continues through the week, but the winners of its top awards were announced on Saturday:
  • Alejandro Monteverde's Bella, about an unmarried pregnant woman in New York City, was named Best Dramatic Feature and earned $100,000 for the honor. The film also took the audience award at Toronto in 2006 and is scheduled for a limited theatrical release starting this Friday.
  • Best Documentary Feature and winner of $25,000 was Hear and Now, an extraordinarily moving film in which the director, Irene Taylor Brodsky, follows her deaf parents' decision to restore some of their hearing with cochlear implants. I saw this when it played at the Portland International Film Festival earlier this year and was completely blown away by it. It won the audience award at Sundance, too.
  • The $10,000 Vision Award for Best Short Film went to Kurt Kuenne's comedic Validation -- and I'm guessing 10 grand will make him feel plenty validated.
In addition, four student films won Jimmy Stewart Memorial Crystal Heart Awards, and 16 features, shorts, and documentaries won regular, non-Jimmy-Stewart-oriented Crystal Heart Awards. You can find the complete list of winners, and more info about the festival, here.
categories Awards, Cinematical