Oklahoma’s Heartland movie premieres

Laura Spencer as Carrie playing across up-and-comer Velinda Godfrey as Lauren. Photo provided

(Los Angeles) – Heartland tells the story of a young Oklahoma artist, who while struggling with a recent death, finds escape in a reckless affair with her brother’s girlfriend. Filmed in Oklahoma in 2015, Heartland will premiere as part of the New Visions competition at Cinequest Film Festival on March 5.

The film, which began in Jeffrey Tambor’s (Transparent) workshop a few years ago, received extraordinary support from actors including Sarah Paulson (American Horror Story), Julia Stiles (Save the Last Dance), Steve Agee (The Sarah Silverman Show), Michael Rosenbaum (Smallville) and many others in the first days of funding. Beth Grant (No Country for Old Men, The Mindy Project ) later joined the project in the role of Crystal, and Laura Spencer (Big Bang Theory, Bones) came on board as Carrie playing across up-and-comer Velinda Godfrey as Lauren.

Writer/Producer Velinda Godfrey, who surprised her Oklahoma classmates by bringing a girl to her senior prom, now lives in Los Angeles, but has always wanted to tell a story about her hometown. This film alternates between the long-lasting traditions of the modern Oklahoma family and the emerging openness of the same heartland dwellers. In doing so, it presents a truthful look at the conflicted lives of ordinary people who are forced to question their allegiance to love and the value of mere tolerance.

“This film emulates a reality that we all live in now,” says director Maura Anderson. “We will always have stories about ‘coming out,’ but I think it’s important that movies start transcending this to places where central characters just happen to be gay, where it isn’t the central theme, it’s just a fact. This is the world we live in and for those people that don’t live in that reality, film is a great way to see that it can and does exist.”

Heartland tells the story of Lauren, an artist living in suburban Oklahoma, who has moved back home with her mom, Crystal, following the sudden death of her girlfriend. The arrangement leads the relentlessly chipper Crystal to believe her daughter is headed back to the straight and narrow. But Lauren is only following her mom’s traditional plans for her future in order to stave off the pain of the recent tragedy.

When Lauren’s brother Justin comes home with his uptight girlfriend Carrie to help launch a local winery, Lauren, eager for a distraction, is excited when Justin suggests she complete the artwork for the wine labels. Carrie reluctantly decides to help Lauren with the marketing concept, but the two have fun searching together for images of authentic Oklahoma.

As Lauren starts to regain her sense of adventure and Carrie starts to question her own predictable future, their excitement for the project develops into a passion for each other. And when the two take cover in a bathtub during a tornado, their closeness sparks a sexual affair that can’t remain secret for long.

The film has already been featured in Indiewire, Huffington Post, After Ellen, SheWired, OneMoreLesbian, Lesbian.com, Lezbelib, MagLes Revista, Curve and the Stamie and Tracy show. The filmmakers were included in IndieWire’s list, ‘7 Queer Filmmakers to Watch for in 2015,’ alongside veteran filmmakers Jamie Babbit and Jodie Foster.

Heartland on Twitter (@heartland_movie), web (heartlandthefilm.com) and Facebook

(@HeartlandTheFilm) will provide current updates on all festival screenings.


The Gayly- 3/4/2016 @ 12:39 PM CST