Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival celebrates 30th anniversary
The Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival will begin showing films and hosting events Friday.
Last year, the festival was a drive-in screening where social distancing was the utmost priority. This year, nearly all the films will have at least one in-person screening and be available for 48 hours online.
The festival in previous years featured around 50 to 55 films. This year there will be 35 featured films.
“The number is smaller actually for a strategic reason," said executive director of the festival Jennifer Gerber. "We found that our audience wants to be able to see as many films as possible. When we had four to five films a day, it was just very hard to keep up and there’s a lot of FOMO [fear of missing out]. We set out to do that from the beginning, to have a more focused, reduced program.”
Not only will the festival return to hosting in-person events, but they will split the screenings between the Arlington Resort Hotel & Spa’s Crystal Ballroom and their home theater, the Malco Theater, where they have not screened for over a decade.
“It’s a bit of reflecting on our past and celebrating our present,” Gerber added.
Several featured documentaries will broadcast Arkansan stories throughout the festival.
Shorts Program: Reel South Hindsight features “Udaan (Soar)”, a short about a first-generation Pakistani girl learning to be herself in Arkansas. The collection will be showing at the Malco Theater Oct. 9 at 2:30 p.m.
Kathryn Tucker and Gerard Matthews’ film “A Good Campaign” follows Clarke Tucker fight for a congressional seat in Arkansas. The in-person screening for that film will be on Oct. 10 at 11:30 a.m. at the Malco Theater.
“Broken Wings” showcases the story of the Hot Springs single-winged black vulture named Adonis, directed by Jonathan Sutak.
“This film, actually, is made by an alum of the festival, [who] came four years ago and fell in love with Hot Springs, had a really memorable moment with a waitress at The Pancake Shop and has been coming back for the last four years to make this film,” Gerber explained.
The in-person viewing for that film will be at the Malco Theater on Oct. 10 at 2:30 p.m.
Gerber recommended “Forever Majestic,” directed by Michael Schwarz, telling the story of The Majestic Hotel. There are two in-person showings of this film, on Oct. 12 at 7 p.m. and Oct. 15 at 11 a.m.. Both events are at the Malco Theater.
“I certainly think one of the most talked about films this festival is going to be 'Forever Majestic,' Gerber said. “It shows incredible history of Hot Springs, of the hotel itself, a lot of the culture, and just follows the progression of that building and all that has gone on around it. It’s definitely going to be a film that our town and community are excited to see.”
In-person attendees will be required to either present proof of full vaccination or a negative COVID-19 laboratory test result within 48 hours of attendance. The festival will have events and in-person screenings until the festival closes on Oct. 16.