HOT SPRINGS DOCUMENTARY FILM FESTIVAL
2016 FEATURE LINEUP

 

Accidental Courtesy: Daryl Davis, Race & America

D: Matthew Ornstein | USA | 75 min | ARKANSAS PREMIERE

Musician Daryl Davis has an unusual hobby, particularly for a black man. He likes to meet and befriend members of the Ku Klux Klan. In this digital age of personal disconnection, Daryl’s journey takes him cross country, meeting old friends face to face, both former and current Klan members.  And when many eventually leave the Klan with his help and support, Daryl gathers their robes and other artifacts, building an historical collection, piece by piece, person by person, story by story.

 

After Spring

D: Ellen Martinez and Steph Ching | USA | 101 min | Arabic, Korean and English with English subtitles | ARKANSAS PREMIERE

With the Syrian conflict now in its sixth year, millions continue to be displaced. The film powerfully reveals the state of limbo experienced by many. Following two refugee families in transition and aid workers struggling to maintain standards, life in Zaatari, a camp in Jordan that is the largest for Syrian refugees, is revealed. With no end in sight for the conflict or this refugee crisis, Zaatari’s inhabitants must decide if they can rebuild their lives in a place that was never meant to be permanent. 

Filmmakers in attendance

 

The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years

D: Ron Howard | USA | 129 min | ARKANSAS PREMIERE

The Beatles: Eight Days A Week - The Touring Years is based on the first part of The Beatles’ career (1962-1966) – the period in which they toured and captured the world’s acclaim. Ron Howard’s film will explore how John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr came together to become this extraordinary phenomenon, “The Beatles.”  It will delve into their inner workings – how they made decisions, created their music and built their collective career together – all the while, highlighting The Beatles’ extraordinary and unique musical gifts and their remarkable, complementary personalities. The film will focus on the time period from the early Beatles’ days at The Cavern Club in Liverpool to their last concert at Candlestick Park in San Francisco in 1966. Contains 30 minutes of remastered footage from the Beatles’ Shea Stadium Concert, that will not be available on streaming platforms.

Special Guest Freda Kelly

Sponsored by Triumph Airborne Structures

 

The Big Flip

D: Isabella Vincent Chan | USA | 65 min | ARKANSAS PREMIERE

Over an 18-month period, follow the lives of four “flipped” families; the wife wins the bread while her husband takes care of home and kids. In a society where the majority of Americans still believe kids are better off with mom at home instead of at work and divorce is 40% more likely when the wife is the breadwinner, follow the quest of these ‘flipped’ families to discover what it takes in these circumstances for love to endure

Filmmaker and featured subject in attendance

 

Breaking Point: The War for Democracy in Ukraine

D: Mark Jonathan Harris, Oles Sanin  | USA/Ukraine | 98 min | Ukrainian with English Subtitles | WORLD PREMIERE

Just days after the Maidan Revolution led to the toppling of the country’s leader, President Viktor Yanukovych, Ukraine was invaded by Russia. Ukrainians of all backgrounds rallied to the country’s defense, in the process creating a new sense of Ukrainian nationhood and national identity. Breaking Point depicts these turbulent events, at times heroic, at times tragic, through the eyes of people who lived them – a doctor, a soldier, a children’s theater director, a rabbi, and an investigative reporter.

Filmmaker in attendance

 

Bright Lights: Starring Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds

D: Alexis Bloom and Fisher Stevens | USA | 95 min | SOUTHEAST REGION PREMIERE

An intimate portrait of Hollywood royalty in all its eccentricities, featuring Debbie Reynolds and her offspring Carrie Fisher and Todd Fisher.  Frank, funny and revealing, the project began when Carrie Fisher enlisted her friend, actor and documentarian Fisher Stevens and Steven’s wife Alexis Bloom to chronicle the final performances in her mother’s nightclub act. What emerged was an intimate look inside a Hollywood family, enlivened by Carrie Fisher’s sharp wit and brutal honesty, and by Debbie Reynolds’ determination to fly in the face of her own mortality. Bright Lights is an unfailing look at a mother and daughter who are polar opposites but for whom love is clearly a bond, a warm salute to a remarkable pair of women and the people around them.

Special Guest Todd Fisher

 

Brothers

D: Aslaug Holm | Norway | 95 min | Norwegian with English subtitles | SOUTHEAST REGION PREMIERE

Markus and Lukas are brothers, and the sons of the Norwegian filmmaker Aslaug Holm, who over the course of more than eight years has filmed their childhood and youth. Holm’s astute eye manages to reveal the tiny details that sometimes make way for big changes in the brother's relations. Holm's beautiful film views the boys' dreams and expectations with both the tenderness of youth and directness of the adult eye, and follows the brothers straight into the wildness of teenage life.

 

Burden

D: Richard Dewey, Timothy Marrinan | USA/UK/Belgium | 88 min | English  | SOUTHEAST REGION PREMIERE

In the 1970s, performance artist Chris Burden had himself shot, locked up, electrocuted, cut, and crucified. As the ‘70s progressed, Burden became disillusioned with the expectations and misconceptions based on his art and as the pressure grew, the line between his life and his art blurred. After walking away from his art in the late ‘70s, Chris Burden was faced with reinventing himself artistically. Burden follows the creation of new works in the artist’s studio and with access to his personal archive of images, video and audio recordings, stands as the first feature documentary to fully explore the life and work of this seminal artist who often risked his life in the name of art.

 

The Caged Bird: The Life and Music of Florence B. Price

D: James Greeson | USA | 58 min | ARKANSAS PREMIERE

In 1933, Arkansas native Florence Price made music history as the first African-American woman to have her music performed by a major symphony orchestra when the Chicago Symphony played her Symphony in E minor at the Chicago World's Fair. Throughout her life, Price interacted with many important African-American leaders, including W.E.B. DuBois, Langston Hughes, Kathryn Dunham, and particularly singer Marian Anderson. This film tells the inspirational story of this gifted woman who triumphed over prejudice and preconceptions. Preceded by short documentary “Somethin’ ‘Bout Saturdays”

 

City of Trees

D: Brandon Kramer | USA | 90 min | ARKANSAS PREMIERE

During the recent Great Recession, joblessness exceeded 20% east of the Anacostia River in Washington, D.C. Follow the highly personal stories of Charles, Michael and James, three long-term unemployed D.C. residents struggling to gain employment through 'shovel ready' green projects. When stimulus dollars run out, short term idealism clashes with day-to-day survival in the struggle to find a sense of purpose and place in a recovering economy. 

Filmmaker in attendance

 

Opening Night Film Event (Special Ticket Event)
Command and Control

D: Robert Kenner | USA | 92 min | ARKANSAS PREMIERE

A chilling nightmare plays out at a Titan II missile complex in Damascus, Arkansas, in September, 1980. A worker accidentally drops a socket, puncturing the fuel tank of an intercontinental ballistic missile carrying the most powerful nuclear warhead in our arsenal. The incident ignites a series of frantic efforts to avoid a deadly disaster. This white-knuckle account of a long-hidden story through eyewitness accounts — from the man who dropped the socket, to the man who designed the warhead, to the Secretary of Defense—chronicle nine hours of terror that prevented an explosion 600 times more powerful than Hiroshima. 

Filmmaker, Author Eric Schlosser and featured subjects in attendance

 

Company Town

D: Natalie Kottke,  Co-Director Erica Sardarian | USA | 90 min | SOUTHEAST REGION PREMIERE

A modern tale of David and Goliath in Crossett, Arkansas, as pastor and community leader, David Bouie, fights to save his neighbors from the pollution of big business in a company town, as one by one, they are dying. Filmed over a period of four years, this investigative film gives a rare look inside one American town where the company rules, but its citizens are insisting on answers. 

Filmmaker as well as featured subjects in attendance

 

Crossing the Line

D: David Tryhorn | UK | 94 min | WORLD PREMIERE

The powerful story of the rise, fall and eventual redemption of athletic prodigy Danny Harris, exposing the fine line between sports greatness and addiction. Harris was orphaned at 14, Olympic hurdler at 18, crack cocaine addict at 22, world number-one at 25, and finished at 30. Featuring some of the biggest names in track and field including Carl Lewis, Edwin Moses and Jackie Joyner-Kersee.

 

Do Not Resist

D: Craig Atkinson | USA | 75 min | ARKANSAS PREMIERE

Starting on the streets of Ferguson, Missouri, as the community grapples with the death of Michael Brown, Do Not Resist offers a stunning look at the current state of policing in America and a glimpse into the future. The film puts viewers in the center of the action – from a ride-along with a South Carolina SWAT team and inside a police training seminar teaching the importance of “righteous violence” to the floor of a congressional hearing on the proliferation of military equipment in small-town police departments – before exploring where controversial new technologies including predictive policing algorithms could lead us next.

 

Farmer/Veteran

D: Alix Blair and Jeremy Lange | USA | 82 min | ARKANSAS PREMIERE

A multi-dimensional portrait of Iraq War veteran Alex Sutton. Surprisingly fresh in its tone and approach, Sutton’s story unfolds in unexpected ways. Home from three combat tours, Sutton forges a new identity as a farmer in rural North Carolina. He dives into life on the farm with his new love, Jessica, but cannot shake the lingering traumas of war. His stories about battlefield experiences become unmoored from reality, cycling between states of heightened awareness and “feeling zombified” from a cocktail of prescriptions meant to keep him stable. For us, as for Alex, what to believe about his past is uncertain. The farm becomes a terrain to unearth what is buried, what it truly means to be “the perfect soldier," and where to find the way forward. 

Filmmaker as well as producer D.L. Anderson in attendance

 

First Lady of the Revolution

D: Andrea Kalin | United States/Costa Rica | 71 min | In English and Spanish with English subtitles | ARKANSAS PREMIERE

While visiting an aunt and uncle in the exotic countryside of Costa Rica, a young Southern belle from Alabama accepted a ride on the back of a motorcycle belonging to a charismatic local farmer—a ride that would propel her down narrow mountain roads and into history. The remarkable story of Henrietta Boggs, a Southern belle who takes a life-altering journey through marriage, civil war and audacious democratic reforms to become the First Lady of Costa Rica. 

Filmmaker in attendance

 

Following Seas

D: Tyler J. Kelley and Araby Williams | USA | 94 min | ARKANSAS PREMIERE

Bob Griffith sailed into Honolulu Harbor in 1960 and met fellow iconoclast Nancy Hirsch. From that moment, they were wedded to the sea. Steering their 53-foot cutter, Awahnee, to places no small boat had been before, they spent decades navigating the relentless pull of family and adventure. Combining recent interviews with exquisitely textured archival 16 millimeter film shot by Nancy on location in the 1960s and 1970s, from Antarctica to Polynesia, this is not only a story of world records and sailing feats, but of a family who truly lived a self-determined life and made the sacrifices their dream demanded. 

Filmmakers in attendance

 

For the Love of Spock

D: Adam Nimoy | USA | 111 min | ARKANSAS PREMIERE

The compelling story of Star Trek’s Mr. Spock and Leonard Nimoy, the actor who played him for nearly fifty years. The film’s focus began as a celebration of the fifty-year anniversary of Star Trek: The Original Series, but after Nimoy passed away in February 2015, his son, director Adam Nimoy, was ready to tell another story: his personal experience growing up with Leonard and Spock. Adam not only shares details on the creation, evolution, and universal impact of Mr. Spock, but also about the ups and downs of being the son of a TV icon.

Filmmaker in attendance via Skype

 

The Founders

D: Charlene Fisk and Carrie Schrader | USA | 85 min

They were not supposed to be athletes. They were not supposed to get paid to play. They were not supposed to call the shots. But in 1950, thirteen amateur women golfers battled society, finances and sometimes even each other to stake their claim on becoming professional sportswomen by creating the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA.) Long overdue, these unseen efforts are finally recognized, and the founders are identified as true icons of sport and equality. Not just a film for those who frequent the golf course, but for anyone who believes in the transformative power of defying the odds.

 

Good Ol’ Freda

D:  Ryan White | UK/USA | 86 min

The story of Freda Kelly, a shy Liverpudlian teenager hired to work for a young local band with ambitions to make it big. As the fame of The Beatles multiplies, Freda bears witness to music and cultural history but never exploits her insider access. Their loyal secretary from beginning to end, after 50 years, Freda finally tells her tales for the first time. One of few documentaries with the support of the living Beatles and featuring original Beatles music, the film offers a unique perspective on the beloved band that changed music forever. 

Special Guest Freda Kelly

Sponsored by the Gooch Family: Don, Dana, Scarlett, Georgia and Corinne

 

Harold and Lillian: A Hollywood Love Story

D: Daniel Raim | USA | 94 min | SOUTHEAST REGION PREMIERE

A fascinating and deeply moving account of the romantic and creative partnership of storyboard artist Harold Michelson and his wife, film researcher Lillian Michelson. Harold and Lillian were a talented couple once considered “the heart of Hollywood.” Although the couple was responsible for some of Hollywood’s most iconic examples of visual storytelling, their contributions remain largely uncredited. Through an engaging mix of love letters, film clips and candid conversations with Harold and Lillian themselves, Danny DeVito, Mel Brooks, Francis Coppola and others, this warm and engaging documentary chronicles their remarkable relationship and two extraordinary careers spanning six decades of movie-making history.

Filmmaker in attendance

 

The Heart of Nuba

D: Kenneth A. Carlson | USA | 86 min | WORLD PREMIERE

Welcome to the war-torn Nuba Mountains of Sudan, where the only surgeon within 200 miles, Dr. Tom Catena does his best to save lives in the midst of carnage and terror, treating as many as 400 patients a day at Mother of Mercy Hospital. He selflessly and courageously serves the needs of a forgotten people, as the region is bombed relentlessly by an indicted war criminal, Omar Al-Bashir. Surrounded by a country at war, living under the constant shadow of aerial bombardment, two things remain constant: Dr. Tom’s faith and his enduring love for the Nuba people.

Sponsored by CHI St. Vincent

 

Hit It Hard

D: Gabe Spitzer and David Terry Fine| USA | 50 min | SOUTHEAST REGION PREMIERE

When University of Arkansas golfer, John Daly, burst onto the scene in 1991 “gripping it and ripping it” all the way to the top, he was not an easy fit into the world of golf. An immense natural talent, he had improbable highs on golf's biggest stages and brutal lows ranging from suspensions and divorces, to rehabs and relapses. Through it all, this "rockstar of golf” has remained legendary to his loyal fans. Look back at Daly’s tumultuous career two decades after his glory days, exploring why, despite his myriad of mistakes, he is still so universally loved. (ESPN)

 

Hotel Dallas

D: Sherng-Lee Huang, Livia Ungur | USA/Romania | 75 min | Romanian and English with English Subtitles | ARKANSAS PREMIERE

The true story of how the soapy series Dallas – the only American program allowed to be aired in Ceaușescu’s Romania because it served as a cautionary tale on the evil, capitalist West (yes, really) – became must-watch TV that influenced an entire generation. It also tells the fuzzier tale of how Livia, who fell in love with Patrick “Bobby Ewing” Duffy as a youngster, and her father, Ilie, who fancies himself a wheeler-dealer much like J.R., pursued their Dallas dreams after the fall of the regime. While Ilie built Hotel Dallas (a Southfork replica and a means to embezzle millions in taxes,) Livia left for America, eventually deciding to return to her homeland to take her adolescent obsession, Duffy, on a wild ride through the new 80s-inspired Romania.

 

I Am Sun Mu

D: Adam Sjoberg | China/South Korea/USA | 87 min | Korean with English subtitles

After fleeing his native North Korea to defect to the south, Sun Mu works under his defiant alias meaning “no boundaries”, to criticize the repressive regime. A former propaganda artist, he subverts familiar images which once glorified the leadership, transforming them into satirical political pop art. Offered an unlikely and dangerous solo exhibition in China, the anonymous artist prepares his show undercover, potentially risking his own freedom and safety to expose the truth through art. While he may be physically free of the shackles of North Korea, the evil forces there could overshadow his art and jeopardize his promising career.

Filmmaker in attendance

 

I Am the Blues

D: Daniel Cross | USA/Canada | 106 min | ARKANSAS PREMIERE

I Am the Blues provides a musical journey through the swamps of the Louisiana Bayou, the juke joints of the Mississippi Delta and Moonshine soaked BBQs in the North Filmmaker in attendanceHill Country, visiting some of the last original blues devils, many in their 80's, still living in the deep south, working without management and touring the Chitlin' Circuit. Let Bobby Rush, Barbara Lynn, Henry Gray, Carol Fran, Lazy Lester, Bilbo Walker, RL Boyce, Jimmy 'Duck' Holmes, Lil Buck Sinegal, LC Ulmer and their friends awaken the blues in all of us.

Filmmaker in attendance

 

Jackson

D: Maisie Crow | USA | 92 min | ARKANSAS PREMIERE

What is life like in a place where the anti­-abortion movement has made access to legal abortion almost impossible? Since the ruling in Roe v. Wade over four decades ago, the self-labelled “pro-­life” movement has won significant legal, cultural, and political battles. Now, the stigma of abortion is prolific in the American South, leaving women living in poverty and women of color particularly vulnerable. Set against the backdrop of the fight over the last abortion clinic in Mississippi, the film takes a close look inside the issues surrounding abortion.

Filmmaker as well as producer Jamie Boyle in attendance

 

Jerry Lewis: The Man Behind the Clown

D: Gregory Monro | France, USA | English and French with English subtitles | SOUTHEAST REGION PREMIERE

From his early days, Jerry Lewis – in the line of Chaplin, Keaton and Laurel – had the masses laughing with his visual gags, pantomime sketches and signature slapstick humor. Yet Lewis was far more than just a clown. He was also a groundbreaking filmmaker whose unquenchable curiosity led him to write, produce, stage and direct many of the films he appeared in, resulting in such classics as The Bellboy, The Ladies Man, The Errand Boy, and The Nutty Professor. Lewis broke boundaries with his technical innovations, unique voice and keen visual eye. American critics and the cultural elite, however, tended to view Lewis as nothing more than a clown, while the French recognized him as a true auteur, giving rise to questions that have perplexed American pop culture for over 50 years: Why do Europeans love Jerry Lewis? Is he just a brash, anything-for-yuk buffoon? Or is he a creative genius? Who is the man behind the clown?

 

The Joneses

D: Moby Longinotto | USA/UK | 80 min | SOUTHEAST REGION PREMIERE

Jheri Jones, is a 74 year-old transgender divorcee in Bible Belt Mississippi. Reconciled after years of estrangement, and now living with two of her four sons in their trailer park home, Jones embarks on a new path to reveal her true self to her grandchildren while her son Trevor begins a surprising journey of his own. Director Longinotto’s incisive, fascinating portrait invites viewers to pull up a seat at the lively dinner table for an intimate, multi-generational look at the unforgettable Joneses, as they come together to deal with unresolved issues, shattered dreams, seething resentments and redefined realities. 

Filmmaker as well as featured subjects Jheri Jones in attendance

 

Juanicas

D: Karina Garcia Casanova | Mexico/Canada | 78 min | English,Spanish and French with English subtitles | ARKANSAS PREMIERE

An intimate portrait of a Mexican immigrant family affected by mental illness. Using material shot over almost 10 years, filmmaker Casanova documents her complex relationship with her mother and brother, both suffering from bipolar disorder. She begins filming when her brother, Juan, returns to live in Canada after several years in Mexico. At first, the camera provides a distance that helps them reconnect with each other, but soon old patterns return. As her brother’s downward spiral unravels, the viewer is taken on a journey as heart-wrenching as it is illuminating.

 

Kampai! For the Love of Sake

D: Mirai Konishi | Japan/USA | 95 min | English and Japanese with English subtitles

Discover the art of sake. An age-old staple of Japanese culture and cuisine, the fermented rice wine has recently been winning fans all over the world. Kampai! For the Love of Sake journeys from rice paddies in Japan to breweries around the globe as it chronicles three passionate exponents of the increasingly popular beverage: a British ex-pat who has become Japan's first foreign master brewer, an American journalist known as the 'Sake Evangelist,' and a fifth-generation Japanese brewer determined to shake up the industry. Together, their stories form a fascinating snapshot of how ancient traditions are adapting to the demands of a growing global market.

Sponsored by the Hot Springs National Park Sister City Foundation

 

The Last Laugh

D: Ferne Pearlstein | USA | 85 min | SOUTHEAST REGION PREMIERE

Proceed from the premise that the Holocaust would seem to be an absolutely off-limits topic for comedy. But is it? History shows that even the victims of the Nazi concentration camps themselves used humor as a means of survival and resistance. Still, any use of comedy in connection with this horror risks diminishing the suffering of millions. So where is the line? Mel Brooks, Rob Reiner, Sarah Silverman, David Steinberg and others raise the question that “If we make the Holocaust off limits, what are the implications for other controversial subjects—9/11, AIDS, racism—in a society that prizes freedom of speech?”

 

Le Moulin

D: Huang Ya-li | Taiwan | 160 min | In Taiwanese with English subtitles | NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERE

Huang Ya-li’s Le Moulin is a trippy time warp of avant-garde filmmaking, in which the style of this Taiwanese director thrillingly mirrors his surrealist subject. The doc’s title refers to “Le Moulin,” a group of Western-leaning poets in 1930s Taiwan that banded together in artistic protest against Japan’s cultural hegemony. From faceless bodies cast in shadow, to grainy historical footage, to the artists’ calligraphy-rendered letters, to images of Picassos, Huang bombards us with eye-catching visuals that also serve as a tribute to the classic (Western) experimental filmmakers, from Buñuel to Deren. Indeed, every cut of this tour de force leads to a delightful cinephile surprise. COURTESY OF ABLAZE IMAGE LTD. – LW

 

Looking for Exits: Conversations with a Wingsuit Artist

D: Kristoffer Hegnsvad | Denmark/France | 62 min | English | NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERE

Wingsuit base jumping is an extreme sport in which the pilot jumps from high peaks often above cloud level, navigating their way back to earth through forests and past cliff faces at speeds of up to 150 mph. The film combines stunning photography with a podcast-inspired conversation with Ellen Brennan who is known within the wingsuit-community as a true artist. She is the fastest flying woman in the world, residing amongst the mountains in Chamonix Mont-Blanc, she spends her days and sometimes nights looking for suitable cliffs (exits) from which she can soar. Preceded by short documentary

 

Lost and Beautiful

D: Pietro Marcello | Italy | 84 min | Italian with English Subtitles | SOUTHEAST REGION PREMIERE

Italian director Pietro Marcello’s Lost and Beautiful is a jaw-dropping, Pasolini-influenced melding of Campanian myth with the true story of Tommaso Cestrone, a.k.a. the “Angel of Carditello,” the caretaker of an abandoned palace who succumbed to a heart attack during Marcello’s filming. Lost and Beautiful is also an intoxicating work of timeless magical realism - and a fine example of the exhilarating possibilities within today’s realm of cinematic nonfiction. – LW

 

Maya Angelou and Still I Rise

D: Bob Hercules and Rita Coburn Whack | USA | 114 min | ARKANSAS PREMIERE

The first documentary about Maya Angelou, the iconic writer, poet, performer and activist, who overcame racism and devastating abuse while growing up in the deep south, to become one of American culture’s greatest voices. Rare footage and photos unveil an intimate and often unknown view of her public and personal life with the power of her own words. Reflections and perspectives come from figures such as former President Bill Clinton, whose inauguration she distinguished with a stirring poem, Oprah Winfrey and Louis Gossett, Jr. 

Special Guest Louis Gossett, Jr

 

Memories of a Penitent Heart

D: Cecilia Aldarondo | USA/ Puerto Rico | 77 min | SOUTHEAST REGION PREMIERE

Originating from filmmaker Cecilia Aldarondo’s suspicion that there was something ugly in her family’s past, the film charts her excavation of the buried family conflict around her uncle Miguel’s death, and her search for Miguel’s partner Robert a generation later. Dealing with the mistakes of the past and the second chances of the present, MEMORIES OF A PENITENT HEART is a cautionary tale about the unresolved conflicts wrought by AIDS, and a nuanced exploration of how faith is used and abused in times of crisis.

Filmmaker in attendance

 

The Memory of Fish

D: Jennifer Galvin, Sachi Cunningham | USA | 54 min | SOUTHEAST REGION PREMIERE

Dick Goin and his family have been fed by the Elwha River's salmon since migrating to Washington's Olympic Peninsula during the Dust Bowl. Dick has never forgotten his debt to the fish — who have been steadily disappearing.  A pulp mill worker and master fisherman turned salmon advocate, Dick uses his memories and persistence to battle for the biggest dam removal project in U.S. history in order to reach his ultimate goal, to bring the salmon home. The Memory of Fish is a documentary portrait of one man, the wild salmon he loves and his fight to free a river. Narrated by actress Lili Taylor.

Filmmaker in attendance

 

Midnight Return: The Story of Billy Hayes and Turkey

D: Sally Sussman Morina | USA/Turkey/United Kingdom | 99 min | English | SOUTHEAST REGION PREMIERE

Explore the enduring and emotional power of film as seen through the lens of the blockbuster success, Midnight Express. When Billy Hayes, one of the most infamous names of his generation and on whom the picture is based, returns to Turkey thirty years after his daring escape from prison, he faces a country still haunted by the film. Turkey suffered tremendous economic and psychological damage as a result of Midnight Express and more than thirty years later the country is still trying to escape the stigma. Filmmaker as well as

Special Guest Billy Hayes in attendance

 

Closing Night Film Event (Special Ticket Event)
Special Guest: Ed Asner
My Friend Ed

D: Sharon Baker | USA | 56 min | SOUTHEAST REGION PREMIERE

Ed Asner is one of the most celebrated actors of his generation, delighting audiences of all ages, from The Mary Tyler Moore Show and Lou Grant to Elf and Up. But he's also an all-American activist who refuses to budge on his ideals, no matter what anyone thinks. Beneath the tough skin of this crotchety 85-year-old crusader lies the heart of a true warrior for justice. My Friend Ed is a funny and poignant exploration of the notion of 'hero' versus 'celebrity' and the role of this artist as activist.

Filmmaker, and Special Guests Ed Asner, Robert Walden in attendance

Sponsored by Heifer International

 

Naledi: A Baby Elephant’s Tale

D: Ben Bowie and Geoffrey Luck| USA/Botswana | 90 min | In English | SOUTHEAST REGION PREMIERE

The incredible, true-life story of a baby elephant born into a rescue camp in the wilderness of Botswana. When Naledi is suddenly orphaned at six weeks of age, it is up to the men who look after her herd to save her and set the direction of her life. Much more than a nature documentary, the tale of Naledi (which means “star” in Setswana), born on a brilliant starry summer night in 2013, is the fascinating coming-of-age of an African elephant and the deep bonds that unite humans and animals.  

 

The Nine

D: Katy Grannan | USA | 98 min | U.S. PREMIERE   

The Nine depicts the hustling desperation of a small community living the antithesis of the American Dream on Modesto’s South Ninth Street (nicknamed “The Nine”). The film is a rare view into a very real and brutal world where prostitution and addiction are the norm. Yet, told through the child-like voice of Kiki—the film’s narrator and main character—this reality recedes into themes of fantasy, escape, and the possibility that tomorrow will be better. The Nine is not a film about prostitution, poverty, or addiction; instead, it is a quiet and lyrical portrait of an isolated and forgotten community that is yearning to be heard.

Filmmaker as well as producer Marc Smolowitz in attendance

 

Obit

D: Vanessa Gould | USA | 93 min | SOUTHEAST REGION PREMIERE

Obit looks into the world of editorial obituaries, via the legendary obit desk at The New York Times. The film invites some of the most essential questions we ask ourselves about life, memory and the inevitable passage of time. What do we choose to remember? What never dies? These skilled writers de-emphasize death, and tell stories of lives lived in extraordinary ways. The process brings uncommon insights – insights only the rare obituary writer could have – into the passage of generations, the astonishing cycle of life, the ebb and flow of time, and culture as it appears to accelerate and vanish at the same time.

Filmmaker in attendance

 

Off The Rails: The Darius Mccollum storY

D: Adam Irving| USA | 86 min | ARKANSAS PREMIERE

The remarkable true story of Darius McCollum, a man with Asperger's syndrome whose overwhelming love of transit has landed him in jail 32 times for the criminal impersonation of NYC subway drivers, conductors, token booth clerks, and track repairmen. Although Darius has never damaged any property or hurt anyone in his decades of service, he has spent 23 years in maximum security prison. Darius’ recidivism embodies the criminal justice system’s failure to channel the passions of a harmless, mentally challenged man into a productive career and purposeful life.

 

Olympic Pride. American Prejudice

D: Deborah Riley Draper | USA | 90 min | SOUTHEAST REGION PREMIERE

Olympic Pride, American Prejudice explores the experiences of 18 African American Olympians who defied Jim Crow and Adolf Hitler to win hearts and medals at the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin.  Set against the strained and turbulent atmosphere of a racially divided America, a country torn between boycotting Hitler’s Olympics and participating in the Third Reich’s grandest affair, the film follows the 16 men and 2 women before, during and after their heroic turn at the Summer Olympic Games in Berlin. Narrated by Blair Underwood.

Filmmaker in attendance as well as Special Guest 2016 Olympic Gold Medalist and Arkansas native Jeff Henderson

 

Paper Lanterns

D: Barry Frechette | USA | 60 min | SOUTHEAST REGION PREMIERE

On August 6, 1945, the atomic bomb exploded over Hiroshima. A little known fact is that among the estimated 140,000 casualties of that day, were 12 American prisoners of war. For decades, many of the families of these 12 Americans were never informed as to the fates of their loved ones. Thanks to the tireless efforts of Mr. Shigeaki Mori, himself a hibakusha (A-bomb survivor,) the names of these 12 are now included in the Hiroshima Peace Museum, and the relatives have learned the truth. The film documents the story of Mori and his dream of reaching out to the relatives of these lost U.S. airmen. Filmmaker in Attendance. Preceded by short documentary “Journey to Japan.” 

Sponsored by Hot Springs National Park Sister City Foundation

 

Relocation, Arkansas: Aftermath of Incarceration

D: Vivienne Schiffer | USA | 81 min | WORLD PREMIERE

Relocation, Arkansas explores the effect of the Japanese American incarceration experience in Arkansas during WWII on the generation that was born after the camps closed.  It is an unlikely tale of those Japanese Americans who remained behind, and the even more unlikely tale of how a small town Arkansas mayor of Italian descent became a legend in the Japanese American community. With its themes of the complexity and hypocrisy of race relations in America, journeys toward forgiveness and healing, and cross community understanding, Relocation, Arkansas transcends regional and cultural constraints to offer an in depth view of the incarceration experience.

Filmmaker in attendance

 

The Rocky Horror Picture Show (Special Ticket Screening Event)
In Person: Actor Barry Bostwick

D: Jim Sharman | USA | 100 min

In this cult classic, sweethearts Brad (Barry Bostwick) and Janet (Susan Sarandon,) stuck with a flat tire during a storm, discover the eerie mansion of Dr. Frank-N-Furter (Tim Curry,) a transvestite scientist. As their innocence is lost, Brad and Janet meet a houseful of wild characters, including a rocking biker (Meat Loaf) and a creepy butler (Richard O'Brien.) Through elaborate dances and rock songs, Frank-N-Furter unveils his latest creation: a muscular man named Rocky. It is definitely not a documentary, but it is the return of an HSDFF tradition. 

Special Guest Barry Bostwick. 

Sponsored by Little Rock’s Club Sway

 

Seed: The Untold Story

D: Jon Betz and Taggart Siegel | USA | 94 min | English and Hindi, Spanish with English Subtitles  | ARKANSAS PREMIERE

Few things on Earth are as miraculous and vital as seeds, worshipped and treasured since the dawn of humankind. Follow passionate seed keepers protecting our 12,000-year-old food legacy. Over the last century, 94% of our seed varieties have disappeared. As biotech chemical companies control the majority of our seeds, farmers, scientists, lawyers, and indigenous seed keepers fight a David and Goliath battle to defend the future of our food. In a harrowing and heartening story, these reluctant heroes rekindle a lost connection to our most treasured resource and revive a culture connected to seeds. 

 

Seven Songs for a Long Life

D:  Amy Hardie | UK | 83 min | SOUTHEAST REGION PREMIERE

Hospice care is rarely associated with singing and laughter, but at Strathcarron, it's different. At this remarkable Scottish hospice center, we follow five remarkable patients who face pain, uncertainty and the possibility of life's end with song and humor. Just as it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a community to help face your own mortality, making the process of dying itself safe, individual, and as gentle as possible. Seven Songs for a Long Life is an intimate story behind our changing relationship with death and those who provide end of life care.

Filmmakers in attendance

Sponsored by Legacy Termite and Pest Control, Inc

 

Small People. Big Trees

D: Vadim Vitovtsev | Russian Federation | 48 min | Be-bayaga with English subtitles | WORLD PREMIERE

The Republic of South Africa. Here in the shade of sub-panel rainforests lives a tribe of the shortest people on Earth - the Baka pygmies. As it was hundreds of years ago, the Baka hunt for meat and gather gifts of big trees. They pray to the spirits of the forest and teach their children to respect the forest, to take from it only what is of great need. But little by little their traditional mode is changing under the pressure of the "Big World" culture and the influence of one Baka family’s rebellious teenage son.

Filmmaker in attendance

 

Sonita

D: Rokhsareh Ghaem Maghami | Iran/Germany/Switzerland | 90 min | Farsi and English with English subtitles | ARKANSAS PREMIERE

Sonita, an 18-year-old Afghan refugee in Iran, loves Michael Jackson and Rihanna and dreams of becoming a big-name rapper. For the time being, her only fans are the other teenage girls in a Tehran shelter. And her family has a very different future planned for her: as a bride she’s worth $9,000. Sonita poignantly shifts from observer to participant, altering expectations, as the story unfolds in an intimate and joyful portrait or creativity and womanhood. The film highlights the rarely seen intricacies and shifting contrasts of Iranian society through the lens of an artist who is defining the next generation.

 

Spandex Sapiens

D: Oskari Pastila | Finland | 87 min | Finnish, Japanese and English with English Subtitles | NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERE

This wrestling doc is an odd cinematic portrait of an even odder man. It doesn’t get much weirder than a fantasy sequence supermarket-to-wrestling ring to Ikea parking lot showdown set to a cover of Alphaville’s Big in Japan. The film follows Michael “Starbuck” Majalahti, a Canadian-Finnish wrestler/hard rock singer/sometime actor who heads up Fight Club Finland. (And yes, he is big in Japan.) He is also the son of a preacher – whose main adversary in the ring is Jessica Love, a standout transgender woman with the killer looks and attitude to match her formidable skills. Love also happens to be a young rising star, while the nearly 40-year-old Starbuck is in physical decline.

 

Starless Dreams

D: Mehrdad Oskouei | Iran | 76 min | Persian with English Subtitles | ARKANSAS PREMIERE

Follow a group of under 18-year-old Iranian girls taken into care for a variety of reasons, ranging from drug dealing and trafficking, to pick-pocketing and manslaughter. Director Oskouei pursued the Iranian authorities for a period of seven years, urging them to allow him access to an imprisoned population, otherwise hidden from view. The result is an incredibly personal film about the dreams, nightmares and hopes of the young women in this all-female facility. Their individual stories reveal a desire to again be free, to lead normal lives, but the fear of what is waiting for them outside the walls is never far from their minds. 

 

Strike a Pose

D: Ester Gould,  Reijer Zwaan | Netherlands/Belgium | 83 min | SOUTHWEST REGION PREMIERE

In 1990, seven young male dancers joined Madonna on her most controversial world tour. Their journey was captured in Truth or Dare. As a self-proclaimed 'mother' to her dancers, six gay and one straight, Madonna used the film to make a stand on gay rights and freedom of expression. The dancers became paragons of pride, inspiring people all over the world to dare to be who you are. Twenty-five years later, the dancers share their own stories about life during and after the tour. What does it take to express yourself? 

Special Guest Jose Gutierrez

Sponsored by Little Rock’s Club Sway

 

Swim Team

D: Lara Stolman | USA | 100 min | WORLD PREMIERE

What would you do if your community gave up on your child? In New Jersey, the parents of one autistic boy take matters into their own hands. Swim Team tells the extraordinary story of the Jersey Hammerheads, a competitive swim team made up of autistic teens from diverse backgrounds, trained with high expectations and zero pity.  The film is a moving exploration of the impact that inclusion, independence, and a life that feels winning can have on the lives of these boys, changing the narrative about what sort of life is possible for those living with autism.

Filmmaker and featured subjects in Attendance

 

Tempest Storm

D: Nimisha Mukerji | USA/Canada | 82 min | U.S. PREMIERE

Tempest Storm was mistress to both Elvis and JFK, and became an international star on the stage and screen in the 1950s. At the age of 88, she is considered to be the greatest living burlesque dancer, but her success came at a great personal cost. Exploring her dramatic rise to fame as an entertainer and her swift fall from grace after an interracial marriage, Tempest Storm bares all to tell the controversial life story of an American icon.

Filmmaker as well as producer Kaitlyn Regehr, and Special Guest Tempest Storm, in attendance

 

They Call Us Monsters

D: Ben Lear | USA | 82 min | SOUTHEAST REGION PREMIERE

Antonio, Juan, and Jarad, all between 14 and 16, face decades in adult prison. To pass the time, they sign up for a screenwriting class, and collectively digest their own lives through the creation of a movie script. What immediately becomes apparent is that while the gravity of the violent crimes of which they are accused haunt every frame, each young man is still simply a teenager. Do they deserve a second chance?  The question is a societal conundrum beyond legislation and data. To their advocates, they're kids. To the system, they're adults. To their victims, they're monsters.

Filmmaker in attendance

 

Two Trains Runnin’

D: Sam Pollard | USA | 80 min | ARKANSAS PREMIERE

On the eve of the civil rights movement, two separate groups of bright-eyed, white college kids set off to Mississippi, the segregated South, in hopes of finding their blues idols Son House and Skip James. Their intersecting stories run parallel to one about the harsh racist realities of 1960’s America. Two Trains Runnin’ is a must-see film about hot-button issues - police brutality, racism, civil rights, and the legacy of black country music - that are as urgent today as they were in 1964.

Special Guest blues artist Chris Thomas King

 

Under the Radar: The Mike Edmonds Story

D: Simon J Frith | UK | 58 min | NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERE

Since his first break in Ken Loach's Black Jack (1979,) Mike Edmonds has stolen scenes in some of cinema's biggest movies (Return of the Jedi, Harry Potter, Time Bandits) and has worked extensively in theatre, TV and radio. A true "actor's actor" who is also a huge hit with fans, he has met the challenges imposed by achondroplasia (dwarfism) with his immense talent and a true dedication to the craft. This fascinating and warm-hearted documentary follows Edmonds from his early life in rural Essex, U.K. (and dreams of joining the circus) to a life-changing decision to answer an advert for "midgets" in the British show business publication, The Stage. What followed has been a truly remarkable career. 

Producer Grant Philpott as well as Special Guest Mike Edmonds in attendance

 

Wings of Change

D: Tuvi Arbel | Israel | 53 min | Hebrew with English Subtitles | NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERE

The primary defender of Israeli nature is virtually the only person breaking ground in the talks between Israelis, Palestinians and Jordanians. A religious scholar who lives in the territories, Professor Yossi Leshem is waging an uncompromising battle for coexistence between the parties with the aid of birds. Through a project that he initiated, barn owls are used as exterminators in the fields to prevent pollution of the groundwater for everyone. But Prof. Leshem dreams of implementing the project even further in the entire Middle East, enabling the birds of prey to survive instead of becoming extinct while simultaneously bringing together the divided peoples.