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Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival Kicks Off with Flannery O’Connor Documentary

Kody Ford

The 28th Annual Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival (HSDFF) will open with the documentary Flannery, about the legendary fiction writer, on Friday, October 18, at 7 p.m. at the Arlington Cinema, located at 239 Central Ave in Hot Springs National Park. Filmmakers Elizabeth Coffman and Mark Bosco will be in attendance along with Cinematographer Ted Hardin and Producer Chris O’Hare. Academy Award winner Diane Ladd, the festival’s honorary chair for 2019, will also be in attendance along with Executive Director Jennifer Gerber and Director of Programming Jessie Fairbanks.

One of the most distinctive Southern writers of the 20th century, the enduring legacy and creative prowess of Flannery O’Connor come to life in this documentary tribute spanning the life and times of her iconic work. Voiced by actress Mary Steenburgen, O’Connor’s singular prose jumps off the screen while archival footage, photographs, and interviews with the likes of Tommy Lee Jones, Conan O’Brien, and Alice Walker expand our understanding of this eminent and formidable American stalwart.

Running from Oct. 18 through Oct. 26, HSDFF showcases films from around the world including “One Child Nation” about China’s attempts at population control. On the Arkansas front, “State of the Art” will screen. Directed by veteran filmmakers Brent and Craig Renaud, the film highlights Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art’s famous show of artists from around the country. Panel discussions such as the “Masterclass on Documentary Filmmaking,” “Soundscapes and Storytelling’ and “The Art of the Pitch” will take place throughout the week. The festival is also known for its unforgettable parties at historic locations throughout the town. With themes like “Politics and Poker: A Speakeasy Party” and the “Heart and Soul Train Party” you definitely want to clear your schedule and come prepared to have fun.

Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival had an auspicious beginning in 1991 with the screening of 10 Academy Award® -nominated documentary films. Actor James Whitmore lent his presence to this first event and spoke of a bright future for HSDFF. The following year, James Earl Jones announced, “I see the 1990’s as holding the promise of an unparalleled era of popularity for nonfiction film, with the Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival as one of the genre’s most important venues.” Mr. Jones’ predictions have come to pass, as both the documentary genre and HSDFF continue their upward trajectories.

Each year, with the help of a small staff and over 100 dedicated volunteers, Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival attracts thousands of visitors to the 9-day multicultural and intergenerational event. Now approaching its 28th year as the oldest all-documentary festival in North America and one of the longest running non-fiction festivals in the world, the Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival remains a prominent champion and protector of the documentary film genre.

For a full schedule click here.

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At  ACS, we believe that if we provide filmmakers an arena to exhibit their talents, and film enthusiasts a healthy diet of quality programming, we can inspire more Arkansans to make and watch more films. By supporting filmmakers, festivals, theaters and young people interested in filmmaking throughout the state, we hope to create statewide network, pool Arkansas’s resources and be an umbrella organization that feeds all things film. We believe a rising tide lifts all boats.


connect to create.

To be a filmmaker, we have to connect to create. A painter needs a brush, paint and a canvas. A director needs a writer, a cinematographer, a sound mixer, production designer, editor, actors, distributors, and an audience. We cannot do it alone. This art form forces one to collaborate and thus, creates jobs. Filmmaking is unique in the arts in this way. It takes an army.