#HSDFF25 Day 10 Highlights

Today we wrap-up the 25th Anniversary Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival with screenings of our award winning films!  

10 AM

Deltic Timber Corporation Best Environmental Story & SPA CITY BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT


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.

Spa City Best Stories of the South Award


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

A multi-dimensional portrait of Iraq War veteran Alex Sutton. Suprisingly 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.

12 PM

Mountain Valley Spring Water Best U.S. Documentary Feature


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, Jackson takes a close look inside the issues surrounding abortion.

Spa City Best International Documentary Feature

Starless Dreams (Iran)

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

Starless Dreams follows a group of under 18-year-old girls taken into care for a variety of reasons ranging from drug dealing and trafficking  to pick-pocketing and manslaughter. We gradually get to know what brought them there. Though bored with their incarcerated life they are, nevertheless, scared about what might happen to them once outside. As the New Year approaches they all hope to celebrate it with their families.

2 PM

Arvest Audience Award

Bright Lights: Starring Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds (Audience Award)

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.

Spa City Best Sports Documentary ( "The Buzzy Award”)

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.