HSDFF by Filmmaker Magazine

Lauren Wissot of Filmmaker Magazine covered the entire festival and wrote it up in Gangsters, Baseball, Bathhouses and Bill: The 22nd Annual Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival

Now in its impressive 22nd year, the Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival exceeded my expectations and then some, its programmers bringing in high-quality nonfiction fare – not to mention topnotch filmmakers and colorful characters – that perfectly aligned with the city’s oddball Southern charm.

hsdff hot springs Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival Filmmaker Magazine

22nd Annual HSDFF Award Winners

We’d like to thank all of the filmmakers who screened and attended this year’s 22nd annual Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival. And the winners are:

Spa City Best Documentary Feature: American Promise Michele Stephenson, Joe Brewster

Spa City Best Documentary Short: The German Who Came to Tea Kerry Kolbe

Special Jury MentionMercy Mercy: A Portrait of True Adoption Katrine W. Kjaer

Spa City Lifetime Career Achievement: Peter Coyote

Spa City Audience Award: (Tie) Bridegroom Linda Bloodworth Thomason, Harry Thomason and Getting Back to Abnormal Peter Stekler, Peter Odabashian, Andy Kolker, Louis Alvarez

Spa City Moxie Award: Jose Canseco: The Truth Hurts Bill McAdams, Jr.

The Clyde Scott Award for Best Sports Feature: (Tie) The Big Shootout: Life and Times of 1969  Mike Looney and The Medicine Game Lukas Korver

103.7 The Buzz Audience Favorite: The Identity Theft of Mitch Mustain Matthew Wolfe

Hope Award for Impact on Humanitarianism: Bridegroom Linda Bloodworth Thomason, Harry Thomason, Shane Bitney Crone

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Student Selects: A Young Filmmakers Showcase

The Arkansas Educational Television Network (AETN) has partnered with the Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival (HSDFF) to present a two-day, multi-phase workshop that will allow young filmmakers to learn more about documentary filmmaking. The workshop, which is free and open to all students, will be held Friday, Oct. 18, from 2:30-5:30 p.m. and Saturday, Oct. 19, from 9:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. at Low Key Art, 118 Arbor Street, Hot Springs.

“Filmmaking encourages students to think analytically, communicate effectively, work collaboratively and solve complex problems.” Casey Sanders, AETN producer and workshop coordinator, said. “Student workshops and screenings are designed to immerse young filmmakers in the art and craft of the documentary form.

“Our goal is to help students use filmmaking as a way to explore their world, uncover history, understand culture and express through film the issues important to them.”

Among those presenting at the workshop will be: Myles David Jewell, an award winning filmmaker; Barton Weiss, co-founder of the Dallas Video Festival and the Video Association of Dallas; and Marek Dojs, assistant professor of digital cinema at Southern Arkansas University.

Student Selects: A Young Filmmakers Showcase short films will be screened at the HSDFF Friday, Oct. 18, at 9:30 a.m. at the Arlington Hotel, 239 Central Avenue, Hot Springs. “Student Selects” is an annual event that highlights the creativity and talent of the state’s kindergarten through 12th grade students.

Student Selects films to be screened include:

  • Why El Dorado? – Washington Middle School. This film defines and illustrates the many wonderful features of El Dorado, Ark. It answers questions like why someone would want to live in El Dorado, the kinds of people who live there, and what is unique and special about the town.
  • Three Buddies Farm – Searcy High School. This film looks at the life of a mushroom farmer. David Owens had never farmed anything until he decided to open up a business with his buddies – Three Buddies Farm in Searcy.
  • Shred It – Springdale District TV. This intense action sports video features filmmaker Lane McCall participating in two extreme sports: motocross and BMX racing. Viewers ride along with McCall as he jumps through the air and takes white-knuckling turns.
  • Precision Machining – Heritage High School (Rogers). This news story about Mr. Knight’s precision machining class was done to promote the course as students registered for the new year.
  • PCA Jewels – Springdale District TV. This documentary examines Power Cheer Athletics: Jewels program and tells an inspiring story of a coach who started her career in her parents’ living room.
  • Confidence – Heritage High School. In this short confessional, filmmaker Meagan Simmons reveals the insecurities of herself and others, and she encourages young people to accept themselves for who they are. Simmons hopes this positive message will change someone’s life.
  • Bike Bentonville – Bentonville High School. This film follows the story of 540 bikes, 467 hours of bike construction and more than $100,000 from the Walton Family Foundation used to provide kids more physical education in school.
  • Best Small Town – Marion High School. This is a music video for Bailey Bigger’s original song “Best Small Town,” written about her hometown of Marion.
  • Modern Knifemaking – Homeschool in Nashville, Ark. This film, made by homeschool student Logan Wilson, follows the filmmaker’s grandfather, who is a professional knifemaker.
  • Rodeo of the Ozarks – Springdale High School. This film tells the story of how this particular rodeo got started.

hsdff hot springs Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival AETN student selects arkansas shorts

Strongman Chris ‘Wonder’ Schoeck

Strongman from Bending Steel will be literally bending steel for the audience following the Sunday Oct 13 at the 5:45 screening of the film. That Chris is only 5”7 and weighs just under 155 lbs but routinely performs mind-blowing feats of strength with the power of both his body and his mind must be seen to be believed.


To see more about Chris visit his website.

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The Project
Shawn Efran and Adam Ciralsky / Somalia
(90 min)
Regional Premiere

The Project profiles the precarious, real-life story of the Puntland Maritime Police Force (PMPF), a shadowy group of pirate hunters. Taking the hijacking of the world’s waterways and the kidnapping on innocent citizens into its undertrained hands, the PMPF faces mutiny, murder, and diplomatic mischief in its dangerous quest to rid a country and its coastal waters of terror. The mercenaries’ epic battle makes for an intense, gripping and groundbreaking ride.

  • Official Selection: Tribeca Film Festival

hsdff hot springs Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival features Somalia regional premiere

7 Things You Absolutely Must Have On Your Film’s Web Site
Winter Film Awards, winterfilmawards.com
As a film­mak­er, you prob­a­bly already know that your film needs a web site. And if you don’t, then hear this: you do. (Yes, even for short films, though a sub-page on your main com­pa­ny or per­son …

Anyone’s who’s made a film and wants to effectively promote it, pay attention to this. All good advice here, and don’t skip a step.

7 Things You Absolutely Must Have On Your Film’s Web Site
Winter Film Awards, winterfilmawards.com

As a film­mak­er, you prob­a­bly already know that your film needs a web site. And if you don’t, then hear this: you do. (Yes, even for short films, though a sub-page on your main com­pa­ny or per­son …

Anyone’s who’s made a film and wants to effectively promote it, pay attention to this. All good advice here, and don’t skip a step.

Central Fusion Happy Hour

Central Park Fusion, conveniently located near the Arlington Hotel, is one of Hot Springs’s best locations for great food, cocktails, and wine. Join us Tuesday night for happy hour at 5:00 to 7:00 PM for free appetizers and fun! Mingle with other festival goers and experience one of the best culinary delights in Hot Springs! Stick around for dinner and Central Park Fusion will donate 10% of your meal back to HSDFF. AND anytime you dine at Central Park during the week, 10% of all proceeds from your dinner (closed on Sunday and Monday) will benefit the Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival. Just be sure to let your waiter know! Central Park Fusion is located within walking distance from The Arlington Hotel in a modern, unique atmosphere that diners will enjoy. Matt Fuller and his team start with exceptional products that are crucial to delivering a memorable culinary experience. Classical French culinary techniques form the foundation of Central Park Fusion dishes and are enhanced by introducing and fusing together flavors from around the world. This restaurant offers something for everyone and also offers one of the best wine lists in the area. Open to all. (501) 623-0202.


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Petrella: Shine on Me
Bob Pollefeyt / USA
(43 min)
World Premiere

A 43-minute narrative depicting 25 years of turbulence of a black woman whose love for country music led her to fight against all odds including race, poverty and gender to become “The First Lady of Country Soul” and reap jubilation at is best as an independent recording artist.  

Petrella has recorded with noted producers Jack Gale of Playback Records Nashville (Tammy Wynette, Waylon Jennings, Tanya Tucker, Crystal Gale, Willie Nelson, Charley Daniels, Johnny Paycheck, Little Jimmie Dickens, George Jones and Tommy and Johnny Cash), Anthony Smith (Clay Walker, Neil McCoy and Donna Summer) and Jason Miles (Sting and Suzy Bogguss) and David Scheffler.  Petrella has been vocally coached by Kevin Dorsey (Music Director for Michael Jackson tour) and Oren Waters (famed Waters Family back up singers).

Filmmakers and Petrella attending.

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American Master: Billie Jean King
James Erskine/ UK
(83 min)

American Masters looks back to the 12-year-old Long Beach, California, girl who played tennis on public courts, observed disparity and, as she soared athletically, never stopped trying to remedy inequality. During her professional tennis career King won 39 Grand Slam titles, and now presents her own story with perspective from fellow tennis stars that played alongside her or were influenced by her, among them Margaret Court, Chris Evert, Ilana Kloss (King’s partner), Maria Sharapova, Serena and Venus Williams, Caroline Wozniacki, and members of the Virginia Slims Circuit “Original 9.” This film also features new interviews with a diverse cast of characters from King’s unparalleled life including former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, friend and fellow activist Sir Elton John, feminist Gloria Steinem, and Valerie Jarrett, Senior Adviser to President Obama, who chose King as the first female athlete to be awarded with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.


Photo credit: AP/Press Association Images.

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Special Sneak Preview
Beth B / Germany
2 hrs including performance and Q & A

After Hours SECRET SCREENING and PERFORMANCE. Following smash screenings in Berlin, Nuremberg, Copenhagen, Tel Aviv, Helsinki, Budapest, Moscow, South Korea, Taiwan, Cannes, Transylvania, attend the first screening in North America of the new documentary that has set Europe on fire. Director Beth B reveals a secret world that will challenge traditional views of body, morality and sexuality. It will blow your mind. Strictly no one under 18 admitted.

  • Filmmaker as well as featured performer attending

hsdff hot springs Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival secret screening performance

Fight for Chicago
Brent Renaud, Craig Renaud / USA
(60 min)

Fight for Chicago: A Report from the Frontlines
Forum Runtime: 1 hr: 30 mins
With special guests Derek “Shotgun” Brown and Reverend Robin Hood

Award winning filmmakers and Arkansas natives Craig and Brent Renaud screen and discuss their most recent television work Fight for Chicago aired recently during the launch of Al Jazeera America. Fight for Chicago takes you to the dangerous streets of Chicago’s West and South sides to explore how the city became the most violent in the country and what’s being done to stop its gang-related violence. Joining the Renaud Brothers in the discussion will be subjects of the series, Derek “Shotgun” Brown, a former leader of the feared Chicago street gang, the Vice Lords, and Reverend Robin Hood, a well known anti-violence activist in Chicago.

The Renaud Brothers, along with correspondent Christof Putzel, spent months filming in neighborhoods in Chicago that have become inner city war zones, reporting on each side’s perspective: the police, the advocates, the churches, the schools, the families, and the gang members themselves. From inside access to violent gangs like the Vice Lords and Gangster Disciples, to heart wrenching moments with a mother whose son was gunned down by police, Fight for Chicago gives viewers a front seat look into the war that has claimed more American lives than the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan combined.

  • Filmmaker and cast members Derek T ‘Shotgun’’ Brown, Reverend Robin Hood attending

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