During the course of a single weekend, local film buffs will have the chance to see the depth and emotion that movies can create.

Watch the transformation of a Wall Street bigwig laid low by the financial crisis, and see how a job in a small-town diner changes his life forever.

Animal lovers will melt watching an overprotective sheep dog guard an endangered flock of penguins. Audiences will marvel at the sacrifice and dedication of student cyclists training for the annual Little 500 at Indiana University.

Story continues below gallery

The top selections from 2015’s Heartland Film Festival are coming to Johnson County for an intimate screening event. The Best of the Fest will again return to the Historic Artcraft Theatre on March 4 and 5, bringing a blend of humor, heartbreak, insight and redemption to the big screen.

This is the third straight year that Heartland Film, the company which organizes the festival every year, has partnered with the Artcraft to showcase its best films.

“The festival every year in October is centered in Indianapolis, but it’s important for us to reach out to other parts of the central Indiana community,” said Tim Irwin, artistic director for Heartland Film. “We want to bring these films that you can’t see normally.”

Heartland Film started Best of the Film as an outreach program branching off from the main film festival in October. Though it draws thousands of people to the 10-day event, for most of the year, Heartland Film is out of the public eye.

What started as an effort to bring certain movies to small towns and theaters throughout Indiana has turned into a weekend-long mini-festival in Franklin.

“The partnership that we’ve had with the Artcraft and everyone down there has been great over the years. We want to keep pursuing that and bringing this art down to Franklin,” Irwin said.

For the Artcraft, it’s yet another unique event to bring people through the doors, said Dave Windisch, spokesman for the Artcraft.

“They can showcase some of their best movies, and it allows us to bring independent film to Franklin at such a high-quality caliber,” he said. “People that come to the theater don’t have to recognize the title of a movie. If they see that Heartland logo, they know it’s going to be a good movie.

Heartland Film and the Artcraft launched Best of the Fest in 2014, featuring six films over two days at the theater. Since then, the model has been used in communities such as Bedford, Nashville and Kokomo, Irwin said.

To find the right blend of documentaries and narrative features, Irwin combed through the Heartland Film Festival’s collection of 145 films shown in October.

The ones he chose were some of the most popular with judges, screeners and audiences last year.

“This is why festivals exist: to connect films we like to people who normally wouldn’t get to see them,” Irwin said. MOTION

If you go

Best of the Fest

When: 7:30 p.m. March 4; 2:30, 5 and 7:30 p.m. March 5

Where: The Historic Artcraft Theatre, 57 N. Main St., Franklin

Cost: $6 for each film

Information: historicartcrafttheatre.org

Author photo
Ryan Trares is a reporter for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at rtrares@dailyjournal.net or 317-736-2727.