One of the biggest stars in Hollywood helped ceremonially kick off the 23rd annual Heartland Film Festival this weekend in Indianapolis. Robert Downey Jr. made a surprise appearance at an advanced screening of the film “The Judge,” which is set in Indiana. Heartland Film Inc. says this year's 10-day festival will officially begin October 16. October 5, 2014

News Release

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – The 23rd annual Heartland Film Festival kicked off on Saturday, Oct. 4 with a special party and advance screening of Warner Bros. Pictures' “The Judge.” Director David Dobkin (“Wedding Crashers”) traveled to Indianapolis in support of the film that opens wide on Oct. 10, 2014.

Fans were stunned when Robert Downey Jr. made a surprise introduction before show time. Downey Jr. returned after the screening for a question-and-answer session with Dobkin and Heartland Film President Stuart Lowry.

“A powerful and entertaining film set in Indiana, 'The Judge' was a perfect fit to launch the 2014 Heartland Film Festival,” said Lowry. “The surprise appearance from an actor of Robert Downey Jr.'s caliber shows that we have something very special here in Indianapolis. This was an amazing day for all the fans and supporters of the Heartland Film Festival. We want to sincerely thank Robert Downey Jr., David Dobkin and Warner Bros. Pictures for making this special event possible.”

Closing Night Title Announced

“Belle and Sebastian,” directed by Nicolas Vanier

-Saturday, Oct. 25 at 7 p.m. – Indianapolis Museum of Art

-Screening: $25, After-Party: $20, Combo: $40

A beloved story since the 1960s television series introduced resourceful young Sebastian and the giant mountain sheepdog he tames and calls Belle, this heartwarming film is set during WWII in the snowy Alps of occupied France, on the border of Switzerland. Sebastian, lonely and dreaming of the day his mother will return from America for him, befriends “the beast” the local farmers are convinced is killing their sheep – an enormous yet gentle sheepdog who quickly becomes the boy’s best friend and protector. With Nazis in the village rooting out the resistance fighters helping Jewish refugees cross the border, Belle and Sebastian’s loyalty – to each other and the village that’s embraced them both – will be put to the test. In French with English subtitles.

Audience Choice Award winners will be announced in each category, as will the winners of the Best Premiere prizes ($5,000 each for Best Narrative Feature Premiere and Best Documentary Feature Premiere). End the night at the Jazz Kitchen after-party with live music by Sarah Scharbrough.

Sponsored by The David and Betty Klapper Family Foundation

Special Presentation Features Added

In partnership with The Weinstein Co., Heartland Film will present special screenings of two upcoming feature films:

“St. Vincent,” directed by Ted Melfi

-Starring Bill Murray, Melissa McCarthy, Naomi Watts, Chris O’Dowd and Terrence Howard

-Sunday, Oct. 19 – 7 p.m. at AMC Traders Point Showplace 12

Maggie (Melissa McCarthy), a single mother, moves into a new home in Brooklyn with her 12-year old son, Oliver (Jaeden Lieberher). Forced to work long hours, she has no choice but to leave Oliver in the care of their new neighbor, Vincent (Bill Murray), a retired curmudgeon with a penchant for alcohol and gambling. An odd friendship soon blossoms between the improbable pair. Together with a pregnant stripper named Daka (Naomi Watts), Vincent brings Oliver along on all the stops that make up his daily routine – the race track, a strip club, and the local dive bar. Vincent helps Oliver grow to become a man, while Oliver begins to see in Vincent something that no one else is able to: a misunderstood man with a good heart.

The Weinstein Company, with Chernin Entertainment, present “St. Vincent,” starring Bill Murray (“The Grand Budapest Hotel,” “The Monuments Men”), Melissa McCarthy (“Tammy,” “The Heat”), Naomi Watts (“The Impossible,” “J. Edgar”), Chris O’Dowd (“Calvary,” “Thor: The Dark World”), Terrence Howard (“Lee Daniels’ The Butler”, “Hustle and Flow”) and newcomer Jaeden Lieberher (“A Many Splintered Thing”). In theaters everywhere Nov. 21, 2014.

“The Imitation Game,” directed by Morten Tyldum

-Starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode, Rory Kinnear

-Wednesday, Oct. 22 – 8:45 p.m. at AMC Castleton Square 14

During the winter of 1952, British authorities entered the home of mathematician, cryptanalyst and war hero Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch) to investigate a reported burglary. They instead ended up arresting Turing himself on charges of ‘gross indecency’, an accusation that would lead to his devastating conviction for the criminal offense of homosexuality – little did officials know, they were actually incriminating the pioneer of modern-day computing. Famously leading a motley group of scholars, linguists, chess champions and intelligence officers, he was credited with cracking the so-called unbreakable codes of Germany's WWII Enigma machine.

An intense and haunting portrayal of a brilliant, complicated man, “The Imitation Game” follows a genius who under nail-biting pressure helped to shorten the war and, in turn, save thousands of lives. Directed by Morten Tyldum with a screenplay by Graham Moore, the film stars Benedict Cumberbatch (“The Fifth Estate”, “Star Trek Into Darkness”, and TV’s “Sherlock”), Keira Knightley (BAFTA nominee for “Atonement”, Oscar® nominee for “Pride and Prejudice”), Matthew Goode (“Stoker”, “A Single Man”), Rory Kinnear (“Skyfall”), Allen Leech (“In Fear”, TV’s “Downton Abbey”), Matthew Beard (“An Education”), Charles Dance (“Gosford Park”, TV's “Game of Thrones”) and Mark Strong Strong (“Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy”). In theaters everywhere Oct. 24, 2014.

Indiana's oldest and longest-running celebration of independent film, the 2014 Heartland Film Festival will run from Oct. 16-25, 2014 across Indianapolis. Visit for full schedule and tickets.

About Heartland Film, Inc.

Heartland Film is a nonprofit arts organization founded in 1991 with the mission to inspire filmmakers and audiences through the transformative power of film. Heartland Film is a curator and supporter of purposeful filmmaking, honoring a wide variety of cinema and awarding storytellers from all over the world. The films Heartland Film selects and exhibits – whether they inspire and uplift, educate and inform, or have the ability to shift audiences’ perspectives on the world – all have one thing in common: they are entertaining films that do more than just entertain. Every October, the Heartland Film Festival gives its moviegoers access to more than 100 visiting independent filmmakers from all over the world, right in the heart of the Midwest. Heartland Film Festival showcases more than 130 entertaining movies that do much more than just entertain over 10 days of red carpet premieres and events, parties and hundreds of film screenings across Indianapolis.

The Heartland Film Festival has earned the special designation of being a qualifying festival for the Annual Academy Awards within the Short Films category. Each year, the Heartland Film Festival awards more than $115,000 in cash prizes and presents its Festival Awards to top-judged submissions. Heartland Film has awarded more than $2.6 million to support indie filmmakers over the last 23 years. Beyond the Heartland Film Festival, Heartland Film honors theatrically-released films that align with its mission via the Truly Moving Picture Award, inspires the next generation of filmmakers via the Heartland Film Institute, and exhibits films across Indiana all year long via the Heartland Film Roadshow. To learn more, visit

Source: Heartland Film Inc.

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