“Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Toronto, Sheffield – Hot Springs, Arkansas? …...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.”

–Filmmaker Magazine, October 2013



The Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival (HSDFF) is the oldest non-fiction festival in North America and an Academy-qualifying festival in the category of Documentary Short Subject.  Veteran actor James Whitmore lent his presence to festival's first year and the following year, actor James Earl Jones proclaimed, “I see the 1990's as holding the promise of an unparalleled era of popularity for nonfiction film and video, with the Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival as one of the genre’s most important venues.” In 1992, the Hot Springs Documentary Film Institute (HSDFI)  incorporated as a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization and remains one of the few film institutes in the United States dedicated solely to the documentary film genre. Each yearthe Institute presents the annual Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival with the help of over 200 dedicated volunteers, the institute’s board, and staff members. The festival's screening committee views nearly 1,000 films submitted from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, and selects roughly 100 to be presented each year. 


Hosted by the spa city of Hot Springs, Arkansas and held on the doorstep of a national park, HSDFF is a culturally diverse and intergenerational event. The city’s colorful past as the 1930’s playground of Al Capone lingers in the air amidst the majestic turn-of-the-century buildings that make up Bath House Row.  In the 1950’s, Hot Springs served as the boyhood home of former President Bill Clinton. The 27th Annual Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival will be held October 7th through 16th, 2016 at the Arlington Hotel and Spa in the Historic Downtown District of Hot Springs.  Through screenings, panels, forums and special events, HSDFF brings cultural and social enrichment to all ages.

Support for Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival is provided, in part, by the Arkansas Arts Council, an agency of the Department of Arkansas Heritage, and the National Endowment for the Arts.