Heartland International Film Festival 2021 Picks

This year, the Heartland International Film Festival (HIFF) returns with another excellent, varied selection of films to screen and many theatrical venues to showcase! Running from Thurs., Oct. 7 to Sun., Oct. 17 with virtual and in-person viewing options, there is much to enjoy as part of HIFF’s 30th anniversary festivities. While there are numerous films that pique my curiosity–truly, there is something for everyone in this lineup–the following are my must-see picks for this year’s round of HIFF:

Thurs., Oct. 7:

Julia (2021)
The Toby Theater at Newfields
4000 N Michigan Rd, Indianapolis, IN 46208
October 7, 2021, 7:00 – 9:00 PM EDT
Chef Julia Child has been a renowned chef appreciated by multiple generations. In fact, her kitchen still gets regular foot traffic at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History. This documentary utilizes archival footage of Child to honor her successes and to also document the challenges she faced while creating and publishing her highly respected book, Mastering the Art of French Cooking.

Sat., Oct. 9:

Mayberry Man (2021)
Indianapolis Arts Center
820 E 67th St, Indianapolis, IN 46220
October 9, 2021, 6:15 – 8:15 PM EDT
Virtual Option Available
As someone who is a big fan of The Andy Griffith Show and recently visited the Andy Griffith Museum as well as Mt. Airy’s homage to Mayberry, I was so excited to see this film in the lineup. In addition to the arrogant main character attending Mayberry Fest, he also happens to meet several characters along they way–most of which are direct nods to the characters from The Andy Griffith Show. Moreover the producer and lead actor hail from Indiana and several Indiana locations were used to shoot this film, including Danville (Hendricks County Courthouse, town square, Royal Theater, Mayberry Cafe, Twin Bridges Golf Club, Hendricks County Regional Airport); Avon (Fairfield Inn); Indianapolis (Old Governor’s Mansion, Perry Mansion); Fishers (Conner Prairie); and North Salem (private residence).

Spencer (2021)
The Toby Theater at Newfields
4000 N Michigan Rd, Indianapolis, IN 46208
October 9, 2021, 7:00 – 9:00 PM EDT
This film is easily one of HIFF’s greatest gems for this year. A highly-anticipated release, HIFF has the chance to show it off early-on. Kristen Stewart is already getting positive reviews for her performance as the ill-fated Princess of Wales, and there is Oscar buzz underway for this film. Viewing this film at HIFF is a great way to beat the crowds that the film is sure to draw upon general release.

Harvey (1950)
Indianapolis Arts Center
820 E 67th St, Indianapolis, IN 46220
October 9, 2021, 8:30 – 10:30 PM EDT
Now, who doesn’t love Jimmy Stewart? Easily one of his most endearing classics as the lovable Elwood P. Dowd, HIFF pays tribute to Stewart once again with their Jimmy Stewart Retrospective. This film is never to be missed, no matter how many times one has seen it. Catching it on the big screen? Even better.

Thurs., Oct. 14:

Set! (2021)
Kan Kan Cinema – Theater 3
1258 Windsor St, Indianapolis, IN 46201
October 14, 2021, 5:15 – 7:15 PM EDT
Virtual Option Available
Believe it or not, tablescaping is a HUGE deal. I’ve witnessed people both highly competitive and exceptionally creative at the endeavor, so it doesn’t surprise me that full-on competitions for table-setting exist. Learn all about “The Olympics of Table-Setting” in this delightful documentary.

West Side Story (1961)
The Historic Artcraft Theater
57 N Main St, Franklin, IN 46131
October 14, 2021, 6:30 – 9:00 PM EDT
I adore classic films and particularly musicals, so this one is a no-brainer for me. To add to the fun, this is a 60th anniversary screening on 35mm film! However, with a Steven Spielberg remake of this film well on the way, it’s a great time to revisit this masterpiece and remember why it’s so special. Filled with beautiful songs and fine cinematography, this New York Romeo and Juliet-style musical is always wonderful to behold.

Sat., Oct. 16:

Rope (1948)
Kan Kan Cinema – Theater 2
1258 Windsor St, Indianapolis, IN 46201
October 16, 2021, 7:30 – 9:30 PM EDT
While this is a lesser-discussed Alfred Hitchcock film, viewers see Stewart in his element once again, this time working for the Master of Suspense. Based upon the crimes of Leopold and Loeb, the film is as fascinating as it is creepy–a perfect film to view during the spooky season. This screening is also part of the Jimmy Stewart Retrospective.


For more information about the festival, screenings, and special events, visit the HIFF website.

About Annette Bochenek

Dr. Annette Bochenek of Chicago, Illinois, is an avid scholar of Hollywood’s Golden Age. She manages the Hometowns to Hollywood blog, in which she writes about her trips exploring the legacies and hometowns of Golden Age stars. Annette also hosts the “Hometowns to Hollywood” film series throughout the Chicago area. She has been featured on Turner Classic Movies and is the president of TCM Backlot’s Chicago chapter. In addition to writing for TCM Backlot, she also writes for Classic Movie Hub, Silent Film Quarterly, Nostalgia Digest, and Chicago Art Deco Society Magazine.
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