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“Welcome” wins Heartland’s top prize

by on October 18, 2009
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The Heartland Film Festival celebrated and honored some of the world’s most talented and inspiring independent filmmakers during the 18th annual Crystal Heart Awards Gala at The Murat Centre last night. Awards and $200,000 in cash prizes were presented to 17 films. Heartland announced Welcome by Director Philippe Lioret as the $100,000 Grand Prize Award Winner for Best Dramatic Feature; P-Star Rising by Director Gabriel Noble as the winner of the $25,000 Award for Best Documentary Feature and Bicycle (Jitensha) by Director Dean Yamada as the winner of the $10,000 Vision Award for Best Short Film.

Award-winning Extra correspondent and Indianapolis-native Carlos Diaz emceed the glamorous awards ceremony. Special guests Greg Paul (Trustee of The Stewart Foundation and President of Castle Rock Entertainment) and Don Hahn (Beauty and the Beast, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Waking Sleeping Beauty) presented awards. Co-founder of Pixar Animation Studios and president of Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios, Dr. Ed Catmull, was honored with the Pioneering Spirit Award for his creative spirit in filmmaking and his contribution to Heartland’s mission.

“Really this award is over due,” said Jeffrey L. Sparks, President and CEO of Heartland Truly Moving Pictures. “Every feature film from Pixar has received a Truly Moving Picture Award from Heartland. No other studio has that kind of record with us. Dr. Catmull and the entire Pixar team are true pioneers in the world of filmmaking. Their films continue to inspire and entertain everyone who sees them, and we’re thrilled to honor him with this award.”

During the program, Heartland honored 17 dramatic and documentary short and feature-length films. Two student films received Jimmy Stewart Memorial Crystal Heart Awards and 15 films were honored with Crystal Heart Awards. These films were selected from more than 600 international film submissions for best meeting Heartland’s mission and demonstrating excellence in filmmaking.

The filmmakers honored with Crystal Heart Awards were: After the Storm – Producer/Director Hilla Medalia; Bicycle (Jitensha) – Director Dean Yamada; Big John – Producer Dag Hoel and Director Håvard Bustnes; The Eagle Hunter’s Son – Director Renè Bo Hansen; Entre Nos – Directors/Writers Gloria La Morte and Paola Mendoza; The Final Inch – Producer/Director Irene Taylor Brodsky; For My Father – Producer Zvi Spielmann; Marbles With Thoreau – Producer/Director/Writer Melody George; P-Star Rising – Director Gabriel Noble; Rough Aunties – Executive Producer Debra Zimmerman; Sergio – Producer/Director Greg Barker; Seven Minutes in Heaven – Director/Writer Omri Givon; Side by Side – Director Christian Sønderby Jepsen; Small Collection – Producer/Director/Writer Jeremiah Crowell and Welcome – Director Philippe Lioret. The filmmakers honored with the Jimmy Steward Memorial Crystal Heart Award were Acholiland – Producer Daniel Harrich and Kavi – Producer/Director/Writer Gregg Helvey.

Additional highlights included Heartland recognizing recipients of the prestigious Truly Moving Picture Award, which is bestowed upon theatrically released films that uphold the values of Heartland. Also, three-time GRAMMY® Award-winner and producer of the Official Selection documentary feature, Kabul 24, Michael W. Smith was in attendance. Smith performed a song from his instrumental album and a brief medley of favorite movie scores.

Additional special guests at this year’s Crystal Heart Awards Gala included: After the Storm – Executive Producer Ed Priddy and Executive Producer/Featured Individual James Lecesne; Big John – Featured Individual Ole Klemetsen; The Final Inch – Associate Producer Sophie Harris; Kavi – Editor Chris Witt; Marbles With Thoreau – Editor Robin George; P-Star Rising – Featured Individuals Jesse and Priscilla P-Star Diaz; The Perfect Game – Star Ryan Ochoa; Rough Aunties – Featured Individuals Eureka Olivier and Ladyfair Sdudla Sibiya; Seven Minutes in Heaven – Star Eldad Prives and Small Collection – Star Chris Stack.

Also, filmmakers and stars from the following Official Selection films were in attendance: A Shine of Rainbows, Americana, Another Harvest Moon, Beauty, Being Bucky, Facing Extinction: Christians in Iraq, Fifty Cents, JesusFreaks, Kabul 24, Like Dandelion Dust, Mandie and the Secret Tunnel, The Mighty Macs, My Name is Jerry, Pearl, Quest for Honor and She’s a Fox.

In addition to the total $200,000 awarded, winning filmmakers received a Crystal Heart Award designed by Mark Aronstam and Aronstam Fine Jewelers. The $100,000 Grand Prize Award for Best Dramatic Feature was underwritten by The Joshua Max Simon Charitable Foundation, the $25,000 Award for Best Documentary Feature was underwritten by Godby Family of Services and the $10,000 Vision Award for Best Short Film was underwritten by KeyBank. To date, Heartland has awarded more than $2.2 million to support filmmakers in their quest to create uplifting and inspiring films.