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Heartland & Indy Shorts listed among top 25 coolest film festivals in the world

Movie lovers gather outdoors to watch a film featured in the Indy Shorts film festival. (Provided Photo/Indy Shorts)

NOBLESVILLE, Ind. (The REPORTER) — MovieMaker Magazine has announced its 2023 list of the 25 Coolest Film Festivals in the World.

The Indy Shorts International Film Festival and the Heartland International Film Festival, the two film festivals presented by Indianapolis-based nonprofit arts organization Heartland Film, are included in the list.

One of those cool festivals, Indy Shorts, is underway now through Sunday, July 23 screenings at Living Room Theaters, Newfields, and virtually. This year, a record number of 165 filmmakers will attend. Every program will feature a Q&A after the screening. Tickets and the film schedule can be found at

Two filmmakers who live in the Hamilton County area will have films at Indy Shorts. Filmmaker Rocky Walls has the film Gun Control and Fleeing Silesia, and filmmaker Jason Drake has the short film Renegade.

“Our team at 12 Stars Media, along with the subjects of our films, are thrilled to screen alongside fellow Hoosier Spotlight films at Indy Shorts,” Walls said. As documentary filmmakers, it’s always an honor to help share another person’s story, but to have TWO films selected by one of the coolest film festivals in the world? It’s incredible! Can’t wait!”

“We’re deeply thankful to the thoughtful panel of moviemakers and film experts who handpicked these festivals,” MovieMaker Editor-in-Chief Tim Molloy said. “In addition to celebrating film, all of these beloved festivals offer the promise of new friendships, new adventures, and new experiences, on- and off-screen.”

MovieMaker’s 2023 Panel of Cool includes Katie Bignell and Ian Bignell (Festival Formula), as well as filmmakers Hanadi Elyan (Salma’s Home), Camrus Johnson (“She Dreams at Sunrise”), Aaron Hills (Cinedigm, Fish Kill Flea), Geoff Marslett (Quantum Cowboys), Sylvia Caminer (Follow Her), and Ondi Timoner (Last Flight Home).

“With thousands of film festivals in the world, this is an incredible achievement,” said Artistic Director Greg Sorvig. “This honor has been on the top of our wish list for years, and we’re incredibly fortunate to the panelists and alumni who have made our events so intimate and fun over the years.”

Heartland Film was founded in 1991 with the mission to curate, promote and celebrate thoughtful and engaging films from diverse perspectives. Over the years, the festivals have presented $3.5 million in cash prizes – the largest total amount awarded by any film festival in North America.

Last year, Indy Shorts was included on MovieMaker Magazine’s 2022 Best Short Film Film Festivals in the World list. Both festivals are annually on the 50 Best Film Festivals Worth the Entry Fee.

The shorts festival is also Academy Award-Qualifying in all three short film categories (Live Action, Documentary and Animated) – only 34 film festivals in the world hold this designation. With a track record of 33 nominations and 10 Oscar-winning shorts, there’s a good chance attendees will see the next Academy Award-contending films first in Indianapolis. Last year, an Indiana Spotlight film Stranger at the Gate won the Grand Prize for Best Short Documentary receiving its Oscar qualification. The film was then nominated for an Academy Award.

Oscar-winning director, Ben Proudfoot, is scheduled to attend Indy Shorts with his Academy Award statuette. Proudfoot’s new documentary, Forgiving Johnny, will World Premiere as part of the Spotlight: Breakwater Studios Program. This program also includes two other shorts from the director. Ben Proudfoot’s Oscar-Winning short documentary, The Queen of Basketball, is playing at the Indy Shorts International Film Festival on Friday, July 21, during the Oscar Shorts program at the Amphitheatre at Newfields.

ESPN Films, Vanishing Angle, Easterseals Disability Film Challenge, Children’s Resilience with Shine Global, and the High School Film Competition are other Spotlight Programs at Indy Shorts. Tickets and the full schedule can be found at