Neale Johantgen

Neale Gets Real (about the Fest)

The more movies I watch, the more I crave something different. I want new perspectives, eccentric characters, and blurred genres. That’s what I came to love about Indy Film Fest and why I’m still here each year – I love to help find the films that stretch your idea of what movies can be.


We have documentaries that cover fascinating subjects you may never hear of otherwise – some truly stranger than fiction. We have international films that bring to light unique views in their homelands – just imagine what they can do here! We show films made by people who live down the street from you and also by those who live half a world away. We have tear jerkers, jaw droppers, and the just plain weird. Many are a little bit of everything.


Look, I love movies. But sometimes I just get bored and need something new. And at Indy Film Fest, it’s always new.



Checkered Past

Indianapolis is a wonderful place to be in May. We love kicking off the month with our 10-day film festival just as much we love ending it with the Indianapolis 500 on Memorial Day weekend. In honor of what we wish was another racing weekend here in Indianapolis, here is a collection of some of our favorite racing films we have had the honor of selecting for our festival over the past few years.

We’ve also screened a few great racing films outside of the festival which you can read about in More of our Checkered Past.



The Indianapolis 500 has long been hailed as “the only race” in motorsports, and in 1977, Janet Guthrie earned a prestigious place among 33 talented drivers, making her the first woman to compete in the race. After overcoming impossible odds, Guthrie had her own team and seemed destined for success. ‘Qualified’ tells her story and examines what caused her career to inexplicably stall before she was able to find the the fame and fortune she was headed for.

Qualified was an official selection in the 16th Indy Film Fest in 2019 and won best Hoosier Lens feature film.




The Eight

Follow three late-model car drivers as they run ‘The Eight’ a fast paced daredevil competition that pits drivers and machines against the treacherous figure eight.

The Eight was an official selection in the 15th Indy Film Fest in 2018.


WATCH NOW on Amazon Prime


A Sicilian Dream

The Targa Florio was a Sicilian mountain road race that, in 1906, gave birth to an era of motorsport still going today. Dreamt up by the younger son of a Sicilian Dynasty, Vincenzo Florio, it ran until 1977 and was considered both totally insane and an absolute must by drivers and manufacturers alike. Pistons Passions Pleasures – A Sicilian Dream is a film that journeys into the heart of this story – exploring its intrigue and revelations. We’re taken on this journey with one of Italy’s preeminent dreamers ‘Francesco da Mosto’ accompanied by racing driver Alain de Cadenet with his 1931 Alfa Romeo 8c supercharged racing car reputedly driven by Nuvolari in the Targa event.

A Sicilian Dream was an official selection in the 13th Indy Film Fest in 2016.


WATCH NOW on Amazon Prime


Hella Shitty Racing Team

This documentary short follows A group of hackers turn their attention to motor racing and form Hella Shitty Racing Team to participate at 24 Hours of Lemons at Sonoma Raceway in Northern California.

Hella Shitty Racing Team was an official selection in the 15th Indy Film Fest in 2018.


WATCH NOW on Vimeo


Boys Of Bonneville

Examining the life of Ab Jenkins, who set out to break every existing land speed record and establish endurance records of his own, this film brings its racing heroes back to life through vintage newsreels, photos, interviews and letters.

Boys of Bonneville was an official selection to the 8th Indianapolis International Film Festival (our original name!) in 2011.


WATCH NOW on Amazon Prime


Racing Dreams

A feature documentary following three young racers as they compete in the World Karting Association’s National Pavement Series. Clocking speeds up to 70 mph, these kids chase the National Championship title and take one step closer toward their dream of someday racing in the big show… NASCAR.

Racing Dreams was an official selection to the 6th Indianapolis International Film Festival in 2009 and was the winner of that year’s Audience Award – Best Feature! In 2020, director Marhsall Curry won the Academy Award for Best Live Action Short for his first fiction film, The Neighbors’ Window.


WATCH NOW on Amazon Prime


Looking for more racing films?  Check out our other post on More of our Checkered Past.

Neale has Something for Every Mood

Hello, friends. My name is Neale and I’m the Assistant Director here at Indy Film Fest. My main role is programming our year-round events but I’ve been doing my best to fill some time with these staff recommendations. I hope you have enjoyed them! This week, it’s my turn to post my own! My taste in movies is pretty broad and I think my recommendations here reflect that. I hope there is something here for everyone and every mood!



Short Term 12 (Amazon Prime)

My all time favorite movie. It’s a heartfelt, funny, and heavy look into the lives of those who live in and run a short term group home for troubled teenagers. It was my introduction to the wonderful Brie Larson and it’s still her best performance in my opinion.

You might recognize other familiar faces in the rest of the cast as well – John Gallagher, Jr., Kaitlyn Dever, Rami Malek, Lakeith Stanfield, and Stephanie Beatriz are all in this! It’s everything I look for in a movie. And don’t take my word for it – it won best Narrative Feature and the Audience Award for Narrative Features at SXSW in 2013.




Meru (Amazon Prime)

A documentary following Jimmy Chin, Conrad Anker, and Renan Ozturk’s ascent of the Shark’s Fin route on Meru Peak in the Indian Himalayas. The Shark’s Fin route is considered one of the most difficult challenges in the rock climbing world. If you feel trapped inside right now, this movie might help you feel like you can breathe a little more with it’s wide open spaces. The footage is absolutely incredible and their achievement is a testament to perseverance and the human spirit. Jimmy Chin and Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi co-directed this. Their next film was Free Solo, which is another great rock climbing documentary if you haven’t seen it!






Train to Busan (Netflix, Amazon Prime)

A Korean zombie movie primarily set on a train. I think that sells this movie enough. If you watched Parasite and enjoyed your introduction to Korean movies, this is one of the next movies I’d put on your list. There’s a full range of humanity on display here – jerks, helpers, and a high school baseball team? It’s so much fun!




Hunt for the Wilderpeople (Hulu)

Sam Neill is a grumpy farmer in New Zealand and Julian Dennison is a foster child in his care, mostly because of his wife being a lovely, caring person. Together, they end up on the run from the police, hiding out in the bush. It’s a classic adventure comedy from director Taika Waititi.




All Things Must Pass: The Rise and Fall of Tower Records (Kanopy)

A marvelous documentary following, of course, the rise and fall of Tower Records. Music lovers nostalgic for trips to the record store will love this one. Featuring lengthy interviews from founder Russ Solomon, this movie just makes me smile. It also makes me quite sad that I never made it to a Tower Records in their heyday. But the films final shot of Russ in Japan gives me hope!