The Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival begins tonight, kicking off more than a week of screenings of documentary shorts and feature films from around the world. KUAR spoke with Jennifer Gerber, the executive director of the festival on what to expect this year. You can hear KUAR's entire inteview with Gerber below.
Over 60 feature length documentaries will play during this year's festival. In addition to showing the films, it also awards films in the categories of Best U.S. Documentary Feature, Best International Documentary Feature, Best Documentary Short as well as an Audience Award.
According to Gerber, the Documentary Short award is especially a big deal.
"We’re Oscar accredited in the short category. So whichever film wins Best Documentary Short at our festival is eligible to be nominated for an Oscar this year," Gerber said. She says the track record for the festival when it comes to Academy Award-winning short films is pretty good.
"The last two years we’ve had the films in our festival. And there’s probably been more, but those are the last two that I’ve been tracking personally. So we’ve had actually a pretty fantastic track record," Gerber said.
The films vary in genre, with some considered comedies, some more person-focused and others labeled as dramas. Gerber says there are plenty of films that would appeal to those who may find documentaries boring.
“There’s some really high energy, high stakes films. So there’s a film called "Sea of Shadow" that’s dealing with poaching and dealing with whales. It is a fast paced, high energy journey and it’s dealing with drug smugglers. It’s insane, their access. So that’s one that’s very very high energy,” Gerber said. Already critically acclaimed and award-winning films such as "For Sama" and "One Child Nation" will also be screening during the festival. Gerber said that helps raise their profile as a festival.
"It really just shows our rigorous programming and that we have the reputation that people are willing to travel this far to attend their screenings in Hot Springs."