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Awards Announced 30th Heartland Film Festival



"All These Sons” and “Americanish” win $20,000 Grand Prizes, “Mass” wins FIPRESCI Award, and “Procession” wins Richard D. Propes Documentary Social Impact Award
The 30th Heartland International Film Festival (HIFF) announced its 2021 award winners and recipients of more than $60,000 in cash prizes via its Virtual Awards Presentation this morning. The 11-day Festival continues through Sunday, October 17, with in-person and virtual screening opportunities. Encore screenings of select winners will take place today and this weekend across Indianapolis.  
“I would like to express my complete gratitude to all the filmmakers who have created the incredible lineup of films in our 30th Anniversary of the Heartland International Film Festival,” said Heartland Film President Michael Ault. “Congratulations to all the winning films; I wish we could give awards to every filmmaker as I know it takes endless hours and hard work to create the amazing films screened at our festival. Thank you to all the filmmakers for sharing your stories and inspiring our community.”   
Major cash prizes were awarded to “Americanish” from Director Iman Zawahry ($20,000 Narrative Feature Grand Prize), “All These Sons” from Academy Award® nominee Bing Liu (“Minding the Gap” 2018) and Joshua Altman ($20,000 Documentary Feature Grand Prize), and “Stay Prayed Up” from Directors D.L. Anderson and Matt Durning ($5,000 Jimmy Stewart Legacy Award). In partnership with the Stewart Family, HIFF is the only festival in the world to have an award in honor of beloved actor Jimmy Stewart with a cash prize underwritten by the Stewart Family. The Jimmy Stewart Legacy Award and $5,000 cash prize is awarded to a one film in the HIFF lineup that best demonstrates the triumph of the human spirit through determination and the defiance of odds, humble vulnerability, and courage in the face of adversity. 
The 30th Heartland International Film Festival is showcasing 143 films including 11 World Premieres, 8 U.S. Premieres, and 14 Event Titles. Screenings will continue through Sunday, October 17, at Living Room Theaters, Kan-Kan Cinema & Brasserie, and Newfields. The majority of award-winning films still have in-person and virtual screening opportunities over the weekend. Additional in-person screenings have been added to the schedule in categories: Narrative Feature Grand Prize Winner, Documentary Feature Grand Prize Winner, Indiana Spotlight Grand Prize Winner, Heartland Horror Award Winner, Humor and Humanity Award Winner, and the Jimmy Stewart Legacy Award Winner. View award-winners' screenings here.  
The full film lineup, schedule and tickets for the 30th Heartland International Film Festival can be found at


Sheila Nevins, head of MTV Documentary Films, served as the HIFF honorary head juror. Last year Nevins discovered “76 Days” while on the HIFF documentary jury, which won the HIFF Grand Prize and Richard D. Propes Social Impact Documentary Award. Nevins and MTV Documentary Films acquired the film out of HIFF before and it went on to shortlist for the Academy Awards, win a Peabody Award, and Emmy Award (among other honors). One of the directors of “76 Days,” Hao Wu, joined Nevins on the documentary jury alongside former Grand Prize/Social Impact double-winning director Edward Watts (“For Sama,” 2019). The HIFF narrative jury is comprised of Dr. Terri Francis (author of “Josephine Baker’s Cinematic Prism,” Associate Professor of Cinematic Arts and Associate Dean of Inclusion and Outreach at the University of Miami), Melina León (Director, “Song Without a Name”), and David Magdael (Owner of David Magdael & Associates, Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences [AMPAS] Member).  
HIFF is also proud to once again host a jury delegation from the Fédération Internationale de la Presse Cinématographique International Federation of Film Critics (FIPRESCI) to present a sanctioned award honoring the top directorial debut for a dramatic US film. This year’s FIPRESCI jury is comprised of international film critics Adriana Fernández, Barbara Gasser, and Wilfred Okiche.  
"The FIPRESCI Best Directorial Debut for US Narrative Feature is presented to 'Mass,' directed by Fran Kranz,” said the FIPRESCI jury. “For its unflinching and compassionate inquiry into the aftermath of a devastating tragedy, one that has sadly become all too common. Ignited by a quartet of outstanding lead performances, 'Mass' is unafraid to delve into uncomfortable places, asking difficult questions and demanding that the full complexity of feelings be dealt with squarely. A triumphant debut suffused with wisdom and uncommon empathy, "Mass” makes a simple demand of all of us, that we dare to be human, together.” 


During the Festival, Heartland Film presented Actress Ann Dowd, featured in the HIFF Showcase Event title “Mass” (Bleecker Street) with the Pioneering Spirit: Lifetime Achievement Award, and actor Woody Norman, featured opposite Joaquin Phoenix in Silver Screen Event title “C’mon C’mon” (A24) with the Pioneering Spirit: Rising Star Award for his breakout performance as Jesse. Click picture below to read the full Honoree Press Release. 



Narrative Feature Grand Prize ($20,000 Grand Prize) 

“Americanish,” Directed by Iman Zawahry (United States)   
In Jackson Heights, Queens, career-driven sisters Maryam and Sam and their newly-immigrated cousin Ameera must navigate the consistent and sometimes conflicting demands of romance, culture, work, and family.   
  • Friday, October 15 | 7:30PM | Living Room Theaters | Producer Paul Seetachitt in attendance for post-show Q&A
  • Saturday, October 16 | 7:45PM | Living Room Theaters | Producer/Writer/Actor Aizzah Fatima and Producer Paul Seetachitt in attendance for post-show Q&A
  • Available Virtually


Documentary Feature Grand Prize ($20,000 Grand Prize) 

“All These Sons,” Directed by Joshua Altman and Bing Liu (United States) 
On Chicago's South and West sides, gun violence is destroying countless lives. Two men dedicate their lives educating, empowering, and healing young Black men at high risk for being victims or perpetrators of shootings.  
  • Friday, October 15 | 8PM | Living Room Theaters | Directors Joshua Altman and Bing Liu, film subjects Marshall Hatch Sr., Marshall Hatch Jr., Isaiah Manning, and Shamont Slaughter in attendance for post-show Q&A

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FIPRESCI Best US Directorial Debut for USA Narrative Feature

“Mass,” Directed by Fran Kranz, Bleecker Street (United States)
Years after an unspeakable tragedy tore their lives apart, two sets of parents (Jason Isaacs and Martha Plimpton, Reed Birney and Ann Dowd) agree to talk privately in an attempt to move forward.  
  • No Remaining Screenings

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Indiana Spotlight Award ($2,000 Cash Prize) 

“The Addict's Wake,” Directed by Michael Husain (United States) World Premiere 
After a crippling series of overdose deaths, rural Brown County, Indiana decides to "Do Something" differently to fight addiction. The film is a powerful story of hope and recovery for individuals in use, their families, and the community as a whole.   
  • Friday, October 15 | 5:15PM | Living Room Theaters
  • Saturday, October 16 | 5:30PM | Newfields
  • *Director Michael Husain, Executive Producer Lisa Hall, Producer Amy Pauszek, and Cinematographer Bryan Boyd in attendance for both screenings for post-show Q&A
  • Available Virtually

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Heartland Horror Award ($2,000 Cash Prize) 

“What Josiah Saw,” Directed by Vincent Grashaw (United States)   
A family with buried secrets reunite at a farmhouse after two decades to pay for their past sins. Starring Robert Patrick, Nick Stahl, Scott Haze, Kelli Garner, and Tony Hale.  
  • Saturday, October 16 | 8PM | Newfields

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Richard D. Propes Social Impact Narrative Award ($2,000 Cash Prize) 

“Women is Losers,” Directed by Lissette Feliciano (United States)    
In 1960s San Francisco, Catholic school girl Celina Guerrera survives a difficult home life by following the rules, until an indiscretion creates a series of devastating consequences. As Celina faces the compounded obstacles of being young and alone, she sets out to rise above the oppression of poverty and invest in a future that sets new precedents for the time.   
  • Saturday, October 16 | 5:15PM | Living Room Theaters
  • Available Virtually

Screen Shot 2021-10-14 at 2.33.36 PM.png

Richard D. Propes Social Impact Documentary Award ($2,000 Cash Prizes) 

“Procession,” Directed by Robert Greene, Netflix (United States) 
A group of survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic priests battles for justice and collaborates to create fictional scenes depicting rituals of power in the church.  
  • No Remaining Screenings

Screen Shot 2021-10-14 at 2.32.10 PM.png

Jimmy Stewart Legacy Award ($5,000 Cash Prize) 

“Stay Prayed Up,” Directed by D.L. Anderson, Matt Durning (United States) 
Making music and making a life are one in the same in this inspiring documentary about a legendary North Carolina gospel group and their 82-year-old matron whose powerful testimony is matched only by her mighty voice.   
  • Sunday, October 17 | 5:45PM | Living Room Theaters | Directors D.L. Anderson and Matt Durning in attendance for post-show Q&A
  • Available Virtually

Screen Shot 2021-10-14 at 2.33.12 PM.png

Humor and Humanity Award ($2,000 Cash Prize) 

“See You Next Christmas,” Directed by Christine Weatherup (United States) 
When chronically single Natalie and Logan continue to run into each other at their friends' annual holiday party year after year, they begin to wonder if maybe they’re meant to be together...   
  • Sunday, October 17 | 3PM | Living Room Theaters | Actor AJ Meijer in attendance for post-show Q&A
  • Available Virtually

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Best Narrative Premiere Award ($2,000 Cash Prize) 

“The Falconer,” Directed by Adam Sjoberg, Seanne Winslow (United States) World Premiere 
Inspired by true events, "The Falconer" is about two best friends, one Middle Eastern and one Western, who conspire to steal animals from the zoo and sell them on the black market to pay for the Omani boy’s sister’s divorce from an abusive marriage.   
  • Friday, October 15 | 7:45PM | Kan Kan Cinema | Director/Producer/Writer Seanne Winslow in attendance for post-show Q&A 
  • Available Virtually

Screen Shot 2021-10-14 at 2.34.51 PM.png

Best Documentary Premiere Award ($2,000 Cash Prize) 

“One Pint at a Time,” Directed by Aaron Hosé (United States) World Premiere 
Eager to shift the historical perception of who makes and drinks beer, Black brewers and beer brand owners across the United States are reclaiming their place with the nation's multi-billion-dollar craft beer industry, where they currently share less than 1% of annual revenues.   
  • Saturday, October 16 | 5:15PM | Kan Kan Cinema
  • Available Virtually


IFJA (Indiana Film Journalists Association) Award for Best Special Presentation and Audience Choice Award Winners will be announced Monday, October 18. 
The HIFF30 Virtual Awards Presentation hosted by Emmanuel Carter is now available to watch for free virtually. This awards presentation was filmed in front of a live audience at the beautiful Cabaret Theater in Indianapolis and includes reactions videos from the filmmakers. Click image below to watch the full Virtual Awards Presentation. 



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