Path for several Oscar-nominated films began at Indy's Heartland Film Festival

Posted at 8:54 PM, Feb 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-07 15:10:25-05

Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly spelled the last name of Greg Sorvig. RTV6 regrets the error.

INDIANAPOLIS — When you think of the world's big film festivals, you'd go with Sundance, Venice, Cannes, Toronto and, perhaps, Heartland?

Indy's Heartland Film Festival has grown into an A-list destination for movies hoping to garner some big-time awards, and several movies that had a prime stop here could walk away with Oscar gold Sunday at the Academy Awards, which will begin at 8 p.m. on RTV6.

As the list of Oscar nominees came together in December, the staff at Heartland Film grew more and more excited with each category.

"We love it. It's my super bowl. An amazing fun time of the year," Heartland Film artistic director Greg Sorvig said. "Whether you have an office pool, rooting for a film you love or if you've done all the trajectory and think this film will win here."

Sorvig has seen the Heartland Film Festival grow from a regional movie showcase to a big player on the world's cinema scene.

"Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood" earned Tom Hanks a Best Supporting Actor nomination. It made its U.S. debut at Heartland as a special opening night screening.

"It's interesting to see the trajectory of films, but we pulled some strings, had some movie magic of our own after Toronto. That's gonna be the recipe from here on out," Sorvig said.

Three of the nine movies nominated for Best Picture played here. "Marriage Story" was another of Heartland's showcase films. "JoJo Rabbit" and "Parasite" were both additions that showed off the growing diversity of the festival's offerings. Three of the five Documentary Feature nominees also played at Heartland, including "For Sama," which won the grand prize last fall.

"Most festivals are industry people," Sorvig said. "Here we have real audiences that give you real input. Film reps get notes and they are genuinely interested."

Heartland's Indy Shorts summer festival has become and incubator for award winners. The top films here earn automatic qualification into the Oscar nomination process. Five shorts that played in Indy are among the 15 nominees.

"It's fun," Sorvig said. "You can make a film, get on the festival circuit and go from nowhere to being an Oscar winner. It's wild like that. It's a great time of year. We try to balance the films that are going to be big, hopefully win Oscars, with a true independent film. Truly a wide spectrum."

Heartland is already accepting film's for this year's festivals. They had more than 1,800 submissions in 2019.

Indy Shorts will take place the week of July 21, while the 29th Heartland International Film Festival opens Oct. 8.