Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival announces world premiere

Local News

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. – The Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival (HSDFF) announced today Academy Award nominated Diane Ladd as the festival Honorary Chair and three world premiere films as the Opening, Closing and Centerpiece Films for the 28th edition of the festival in Hot Springs, Arkansas beginning October 18 – 26.

Award winning and Oscar nominated actress Diane Ladd will serve as this year’s HSDFF Honorary Chairperson.

“I am so excited and proud to be part of this fantastic festival of non-fiction films and real stories,” says Ladd. “I am a huge fan of documentary films, as these are the last bastion of truth telling art. This year’s line up is incredible and this festival, organized by some amazing female filmmakers, is inspiring and impressive. I look forward to meeting the filmmakers and the audience, as we take in some of this year’s best films and are introduced to the world premieres from some great new artists.” 

“We are thrilled to have Ms. Ladd kick off our 28th annual festival! As a native of the South and a descendant of Tennessee Williams, her presence will amplify our mission to celebrate powerful voices of this region while shining a spotlight on the groundbreaking work presented by the filmmakers at our festival,” says Executive Director, Jen Gerber.

The complete feature lineup was announced last week and is listed below. Tickets are now on sale. Festival All-Access Passes are available for $400, plus processing. All passes can be purchased through the festival website here.

Leading off the world premiere films, HSDFF is pleased to announce Elizabeth Coffman and Mark Bosco’s feature film: FLANNERY, a tribute to Southern literary icon Flannery O’Connor as the Opening Night Film. Coffman and Bosco will both be in attendance for the Opening Night World Premiere of the film on October 18th.

“We are delighted and honored to hold our World Premiere at the Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival,” states Coffman and Bosco. “This festival makes perfect sense for FLANNERY. It is prestigious, historical, southern and wonderfully intimate. As O’Connor once wrote, ‘When in Rome, do as you done in Milledgeville’.”

For the centerpiece film and the second of the world premieres, HSDFF will present Molly Stuart’s debut feature, OBJECTOR, an intimate profile of Atalya Ben-Abba, a 19 year-old Israeli, who refuses conscription and becomes an accidental activist. Stuart’s film provides a rare window into the Israel-Palestinian conflict through the perspective of a Jewish woman.

As one of the mainstays of HSDFF, the festival will present a number of insightful panel discussions with filmmakers from around the globe. These talks include a fireside chat with the award winning directors – Nanfu Wang (ONE CHILD NATION) and Waad Al-Kataeb (FOR SAMA); a Masterclass in best practices for documentary filmmaking with Tim Horsburgh and Risé Sanders-Weir of Kartemquin Films; an in-depth conversation with renowned Academy Award® winning sound editor and designer Cecelia Hall and Richard Anderson, with the director of MAKING WAVES: THE ART OF CINEMATIC SOUND – Midge Costine and Glenn Kiser – Director of the Dolby institute. 

In addition, HSDFF is launching an official press program led by programmer and fellow critic, Abby Sun. The press program will include a critics jury and panel titled DEMYSTIFYING FILM CRITICISM. Featuring Vikram Murthi (The A.V. ClubVulture, RogerEbert.comFilmmaker Magazine, and The Nation)Noel Murray (The A.V. ClubThe Los Angeles TimesThe New York TimesRolling Stone, and The Week) as well as other guests.

Once again, HSDFF will hold its second annual filmmaker retreat, bringing together a group of first-time feature documentary directors to share ideas and resources, create community, and discuss issues facing documentary filmmakers now. Featuring a series of intimate, closed-door sessions with industry insiders, this is an incredible opportunity for artists to think about their work and objectives holistically in a safe and nurturing environment. This year’s participants include: Jude Chehab with Q, Lagueria Davis with BLACK BARBIE: A DOCUMENTARY, Gerard Matthews with SECOND DISTRICT, Hanna Miller with MISSISSIPPI MERCEDES, Michael Nayna with GRIEVANCE SCHOLARS, Allison Otto with THE HEIST, Tiago Santo with ON THE ROW (working title), and Meg Smaker with JIHAD REHAB.

HSDFF is proud to be an Academy Award® qualifying Festival for the Short Documentary Oscar. Recipient(s) of the Film Festival’s Grand Jury Prize for Best Short Film will be eligible for consideration in the Best Documentary Short Subject category of the Academy Awards®.  The full shorts program can be found on the festival website. For more information, please visit here.

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