HSDFF hosts free screenings for school groups between middle and high school age. HSDFF might be the first place a young person could watch a documentary and it is likely that the festival is the first time these young people will have the chance to meet a working filmmaker.



HSDFF makes a significant effort to schedule as many of our visiting filmmakers to visit local classrooms to give inspirational guest lectures about their career and creative work. Nearly every single industry member that attended the 2017 festival visited at least one classroom in Arkansas. HSDFF received daily reports from teachers and students about the life-changing impact our guests had on their students. It is evident that by connecting young people with working filmmakers, students can be challenged, inspired and motivated to see the value in their own stories.

HSDFF Emerging Filmmakers Workshop

The Emerging Filmmakers program is a collaboration between HSDFF and the Arkansas Education Television Network (AETN). This program is designed for middle and high school students from around the state who are invited to take part in hands-on workshops. Staff for the program includes top film department professors, industry professionals and Oscar-winning filmmakers. To date, over 30 schools and hundreds students have participated in this free program.

HSDFF Filmmaker Retreat

This year, the festival plans to expand our educational component by hosting our first ever HSDFF filmmaker retreat to take place during the run of the festival. This year HSDFF is partnering with organizations such as the International Documentary Association, Southern Documentary Fund and Industry experts to host a closed door workshop series that provides specialized training for documentary filmmakers.


Last October HSDFF hosted over 90 industry guests including jury members, actors and documentary film legends. This year we had in attendance former Oscar nominee director Rebecca Camissa (Atomic Homefront) and Oscar winner producer Michael Hausman (Brokeback Mountain, Gangs of New York), legendary actors including the great Kathleen Turner (Romancing the Stone, Body Heat Peggy, Sue Got Married), Zazie Beetz (Atlanta, Deadpool, Easy) and Robert Davi (License to Kill, The Goonies). Arguably the most memorable experience for HSDFF 2017 was the presence of two of the greatest documentarians for our time, Werner Herzog & Stanley Nelson.

HSDFF Family

HSDFF Family invites children and families to free family-friendly screenings, interactive events, and film-themed art workshops. Children from toddlers to teenagers have participated in this part of the festival, creating their own experiences while learning about the relevance of documentary film to the arts.