Heartland Film Gets a New Home at the Fort Ben Cultural Campus

Writer & Photographer / Alesha McCarty

Heartland Film has found a new home.

The Indy-based group, established in 1991, has spent the last couple of decades curating, promoting and celebrating thoughtful and engaging films from diverse perspectives. They’ve had temporary offices throughout the city. However, they now have a space that “feels like home,” proclaims Jessica Chapman, director of marketing.Heartland Film

Heartland Film’s new home is in the heart of Fort Ben in Lawrence Township – a stately, one-story Colonial Revival-style brick building built in 1906. The building has seen many lives but originally served as a leisure space and library for military enlistees. The 8,200-square-foot brick building provides space for Heartland to grow, and is an impressive space to host filmmakers, guests and the community. Enormous, arched-pane glass windows and French doors in the middle offer an inviting entrance. Six sets of columns anchor the enchanting front patio, which is a future space for guests to mingle.

The inviting entrance allows the beautiful afternoon light to pour into the main lobby, flanked by two stunning fireplaces with original dentil molding. While those renovating the structure have respected the architectural history, the building has had design updates to make it red-carpet ready. A golden ceiling sets the stage. Decor gives a contemporary take on Hollywood Regency style, mixing fine lines, saturated colors and lush fabrics. The whole space comes together elegantly understated.

A matching set of rich, wood-toned, arched-pane windows and doors lead you to the back of the building – the event space. A large, multipurpose room features a modest stage, access to the catering kitchen, a quaint outdoor patio and seating for around 300 people. The east and west wings hold office space.

Next door is the prominent Theater at the Fort and Arts for Lawrence center, creating an opportunity for showings and community involvement.

There is plenty of space outside in between their building and the Fort Ben Musical Swings that they hope to utilize this year for events like movies on the lawn.

The official ribbon cutting was on February 15. The Heartland team has been hard at work hosting the Chamber of Commerce and organizing field trips for local students interested in the arts.

Heartland FilmDuring the field trip, the Heartland Film team worked with middle school students, teaching them the ropes and giving them real-life experience in the industry. The programming team learned the ins and outs of running the film show, the operations team oversaw tasking, and the marketing team was assigned to create festival themes. “There are not many opportunities for young students interested in a career in filmmaking,” Chapman says. Heartland Film hopes to do more community outreach to drive social change.

In their High School Film Competition, students can win $2,000 in cash prizes and showings at Indy Shorts, and the winner presents at the Heartland International Film Festival (HIFF).

Heartland already has second-phase plans including adding a full kitchen with stoves, a new sound system and a new projector for the event space. They also hope to uncover more history. As the Heartland teams gear up for another exciting year, their new home will provide ample gathering space, plus all the amenities to make this year’s season better than ever.


Heartland Film – The Year at a Glance:

February 15: The Heartland Film ribbon-cutting event popped off with a champagne toast, followed by a lively open house with drinks, appetizers, live music and tours for the community.

March 3 & 4: Best of the Fest at the Historic Artcraft Theatre in Franklin – this year will be extra special as the Artcraft Theatre team celebrates its 100th anniversary. Two of the films, “Everything Everywhere All at Once” and “The Whale,” have 14 combined Oscar nominations.

July 18-23: Indy Shorts International Film Festival in Indianapolis returns for its sixth year. It’s a qualifying festival for the Academy Awards for all three short-film categories, and will include films like “Stranger at the Gate,” made in Muncie by filmmaker Joshua Seftel. The film was picked up by the New Yorker and is now being produced by Malala Yousafzai.

October 5-15: HIFF returns for its 32nd year. It features primarily independent films. However, Artistic Director Greg Sorvig says studios know they’re a viable stop for the Oscars.Heartland Film

December 1-31: Heartland Film presents Merry Movie Nights – your favorite holiday classic films at Theater at the Fort.

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