Light Fly, Fly High

D: Beathe Hofseth and Susann Østigaard | Norway | 80 min

Thulasi may have been born an “untouchable” outside of India’s caste system, but she refuses to let circumstances get in the way of ambition. A talented twenty-something boxer – ranked third in the Light Fly category – her life is a never-ending series of challenges, in which she must decide whether to fight or to throw in the towel. (LW)

HSDFF HSDFF2014 Hot Springs Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival Light Fly Fly High

The Apothecary

D: Helen Hood Scheer | USA | 18 min

THE APOTHECARY is a documentary short film about Don Colcord, the beloved druggist in remote former mining town the America Southwest. It’s a hardscrabble place, where the folks who haven’t fled barely eke out a living. One oasis of activity is The Apothecary Shoppe, the sole pharmacy within 4,000 square miles. Don is the owner and gamely occupies multiple roles as surrogate doctor, life counselor and community benefactor. His sanguine public persona, however, belies a long-suffered private pain for which there is no drug, no cure and no relief.  Thematically, THE APOTHECARY explores notions of individual duty and obligation in the face of privately held grief and ambivalence.

2014 Student Academy Award

Gold Medal Winner, Documentary Short

HSDFF HSDFF2014 Hot Springs Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival The Apothecary

An Honest Liar

D: Justin Weinstein, Tyler Measom | USA | 93 min

Magician. Escape artist. Exposer of faux psychics and trickster preachers alike. For over half a century James “The Amazing” Randi has been all this and more, charming the audiences of Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show, while simultaneously invoking the wrath of his spoon-bending nemeis Uri Geller. Get up close and personal with this legendary showman whose greatest lesson in deception may lie closer to home. (LW)

HSDFF HSDFF2014 Hot Springs Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival An Honest Liar

Songs for Alexis

D: Elvira Lind | Denmark | 75 min

With wild hair, lip ring, and T-shirts proclaiming his affinity for 70s punk and 80s hardcore, 18-year-old Ryan looks and acts the part of rock star in the making. He’s a talented, up-and-coming musician with a loyal following, a supportive family and a girlfriend named Alexis that he adores. He’s also a 21st century transman, out and proud. Which is a problem for his 16-year-old sweetheart’s parents, who disapprove of their relationship. A modern day, coming-of-age tale that reminds us of what it feels to be young and in love. (LW)

HSDFF HSDFF2014 Hot Springs Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival Songs for Alexis

Little White Lie

D: Lacey Schwartz and James Adolphus | USA | 65 min

Raised by her upper-middle-class Jewish parents in upstate NY, Lacey Schwartz was a typically happy-go-lucky kid – except for a nagging question surrounding the color of her skin. Did she inherit those striking dark looks from her Sicilian grandfather? Or was there an even darker secret buried in her loving parents’ past? (LW)

HSDFF HSDFF2014 Hot Springs Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival Little White Lie

First to Fall

D: Rachel Beth Anderson and Tim Grucza | UK, USA | 80 min

Hamid and Tarek are two average Canadian students – until together they decide to cast away their safe and secure western lives to take up arms in the fight to overthrow their Libyan homeland’s dictator. An unflinching look not just into the struggle that would eventually oust Gaddafi, but a cinematic, exacting account of how war turns boys into men. (LW)

HSDFF HSDFF2014 Hot Springs Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival First to Fall

Stray Dog

D: Debra Granik | USA | 105 min

The documentary debut of Winter’s Bone director Debra Granik, this riveting road movie follows burly biker Ron “Stray Dog” Hall as he makes his way from his small town Missouri digs to Washington, D.C. to honor his fallen brothers at the Vietnam Memorial. Through his eyes, and that of his Mexican wife and her two sons, we come to question the very notion of what it means to be home. (LW)

HSDFF HSDFF2014 Hot Springs Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival Stray Dog

Deadly Ponies Gang

D: Zoe McIntosh | New Zealand | 65 min

My Pimped Out Pony may not be an entertainment franchise (yet) but never underestimate the power of the Deadly Ponies Gang. That would be Clint and Dwayne, best friends in rural New Zealand who decide to outfit their rides in glitter and bling to impress the chicks. (Or at the very least, horses in oversized sunglasses make for good conversation starters.) Now follow the drug-dealing, gangsta Kiwis as they prepare for their biggest challenge – a fundraiser to get Dwayne some teeth. (LW)  

HSDFF HSDFF2014 Hot Springs Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival Deadly Ponies Gang

Song from the Forest

D: Michael Obert | Germany | 96 min

Taking its title from Newark, New Jersey-raised subject Louis Sarno’s book about living with the Bayaka Pygmy clan in the Central African Republic and recording their music – and never leaving – this doc follows Sarno as he fulfills a promise he made to his teenage son Samedi. To show him where he comes from. So off they go from the lush tropical rainforest to steel and concrete NYC.  (LW)  

HSDFF HSDFF2014 Hot Springs Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival Song from the Forest

Waiting for August

D: Teodora Ana Mihai | Belgium | 88 min

Nabbing best international feature at this year’s Hot Docs, this subtle stunner follows a small town Romanian family headed by 15-year-old Georgiana, who acts as fulltime caregiver to her six siblings while their single mother works in Italy to provide for them. Without moralizing or providing easy answers, the film gives us a glimpse into the complicated everyday reality of a remarkable child forced to take on adult responsibilities even while she blossoms into a teenager. (LW)

HSDFF HSDFF2014 Hot Springs Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival Waiting for August