Heartland International Film Festival Lineup Includes The Whale, Louis Armstrong and More

The 31st Heartland International Film Festival in Indianapolis will include a maze and a mantra: “Get lost in film.” Guests can do just that in opening and closing films with Indiana connections — Sacha Jenkins’ Louis Armstrong’s Black & Blues and Darren Aronofsky’s The Whale — as well as 115 other films, including the award-season draws Women Talking, Empire of Light, My Policeman, Till and The Lost King.

Louis Armstrong’s Black & Blues, from Apple Original Films, will open the festival, one of Moviemaker‘s 50 Film Festivals Worth the Entry Fee, on October 6. The festival notes that Armstrong’s illustrious recording career began in Indiana when traveled with King Oliver’s Creole Jazz Band in 1921 to record a 78 rpm record of “Froggie Moore”/”Chimes Blues.”

The Whale, which will play on October 16, is based on the play by Samuel D. Hunter and stars Brendan Fraser, who was born in Indianapolis. The actor came to the HIFF in 2019, and earned several standing ovations at a 20th anniversary screening of his film The Mummy.

Heartland International Film Festival Lineup Includes <i>The Whale</i>, Louis Armstrong and More“Three years ago we witnessed the phenomenon known as ‘The Brenaissance’ firsthand when we hosted Brendan Fraser at HIFF28, and I have not seen a crowd reaction that passionate in my 10+ year span with HIFF,” said Heartland Film Artistic Director Greg Sorvig. “When our team saw The Whale we knew that we had just seen Fraser’s most powerful performance yet and that this film was meant to close our 31st edition. I have been profoundly impacted by the stories in this year’s lineup and cannot wait to share our slate of true independents and major contenders with audiences next month.”

The festival will include screenings at Newfields, Living Room Theaters, The Kan-Kan Cinema & Brasserie, Landmark Glendale 12, The Historic Artcraft Theatre and the Indianapolis Arts Center, where guests can watch films outdoor picnic-style.  Many of the films will also be available to view virtually. Individual tickets and Fest Passes are available at www.HeartlandFilmFestival.org

The festival also includes a special Cannes at The Kan-Kan section, featuring films that debuted at the Cannes Film Festival. Among them are Aftersun from A24, directed by Charlotte Wells and produced by Oscar winner Barry Jenkins; Broker from NEON, directed by Hirokazu Kore-eda and starring Song Kang-ho, who won best actor at Cannes; and Close from A24, directed by Lukas Dhont, which was the Grand Prix winner at Cannes.

HIFF will also hand out more than $60,000 in cash prizes at its Awards Presentation and Party on Saturday, October 15. Since 1992, Heartland Film has presented $3.5 million in cash prizes.

The festival’s list of world and U.S. premieres follows, and the full list of films will be available at www.HeartlandFilmFestival.org on Thursday, September 15, at 10 a.m. ET.


Anacoreta | Jeremy Schuetze | Canada | Narrative Feature, Horror | World Premiere

Arab Indianapolis: A Hidden History | Becky Fisher | USA | Documentary Feature, Indiana Spotlight | World

BUBBLE | Aleksi Salmenperä | Finland | Narrative Feature | U.S. Premiere

Dr. Bird’s Advice for Sad Poets | Yaniv Raz | USA | Narrative Feature | U.S. Premiere

The Grotto | Joanna Gleason | USA | Narrative Feature | World Premiere

Half an American | Bram Endedijk, Eric van den Berg | Netherlands | Documentary Feature | U.S. Premiere

The Moon & Back | Leah Bleich | USA | Narrative Feature | World Premiere

More Than Corn | Rocky Walls | USA | Documentary Feature, Indiana Spotlight | World Premiere

Rally Caps | Lee Cipolla | USA | Narrative Feature | World Premiere

SENTENCED | Connor Martin, Mark Allen Johnson | USA | Documentary Feature | World Premiere

Surprised by Oxford | Ryan Whitaker | USA | Narrative Feature | World Premiere

Waiting for the Light to Change | Linh Tran | USA | Narrative Feature | World Premiere

When My Sleeping Dragon Woke | Chuck Schultz, Judah Lev Dickstein | USA | Documentary Feature | World Premiere