HSDFF IS now accepting applications for our



HSDFF invites applications from first time documentary directors in development, pre-production, or currently in production with their first or documentary feature or episodic series.

The HSDFF Filmmaker Retreat will feature workshops; screenings of some of the best non-fiction films of the year followed by engaging Q&As with the subjects and acclaimed filmmakers; and, of course, parties!

It all culminates in a “Retreat Day” on the first Monday of the festival (Oct 21st) — an intimate gathering of filmmakers and industry experts at a gorgeous lakeside residence.

The HSDFF Filmmaker Retreat is designed to help foster discussion, collaboration, and encouragement through a series of intimate, closed-door sessions with notable and inspiring mentors from different aspects of the field.

This is an incredible opportunity for artists to not only develop ideas and make vital connections in order to build a sustainable career, but also to think about their work and objectives holistically in a safe and nurturing environment.

Dates: Oct 18th (festival opening night) - Oct 22nd
Monday, October 21st will take place off-site from the festival.

Participants will receive a travel stipend as well as hotel accommodations at our festival location, The Arlington Resort Hotel & Spa, plus an All-access pass to attend all festival events. Production teams are able to apply but a travel stipend and accommodations will only be granted to one member of the team.

Deadline to Apply, May 31st (11:59 pm Central)

Hsdfi Fiscal Sponsorship

The Hot Springs Documentary Film Institute welcomes applications for fiscal sponsorship of documentary features, shorts, and series. We are interested in projects that provide educational and cultural opportunities and advance the documentary genre as meaning art form and welcome both veteran and first time filmmakers to apply.


  • The applicant must be 18 years of age or older.

  • Student films being produced through a college or university are ineligible.

  • The applicant must be a primary producer and/or director of the submitted work.

  • Narrative films or any projects not directly related to the documentary genre are ineligible.

  • The applicant must reside in North America in order to be eligible for a fiscal sponsorship through HSDFI. We cannot sponsor filmmakers outside outside of North America.

  • The project may be in any stage of development, production and or post production or distribution

    Review criteria

    HSDFI staff will review applications and accompanying materials. Some of the questions that staff and committee members will use in evaluating proposals include:

  • Do the Project Director and the project presented meet program eligibility requirements?

  • Does the project tell a compelling story?

  • Has the story been told before and if so, does this project's approach bring something new to the story?

  • Does the Project Director have the access necessary to tell the story in a compelling way?

  • Is the proposal well written and does it give a clear picture of the film's story and themes?

  • Is the Project Director and the production team assembled experienced and capable of completing the project as described?

  • Does the proposal identify an audience and a realistic plan for reaching and engaging that audience? Does the project reasonable chance of reaching its intended audience?

  • Does the proposal have a realistic and well thought out fundraising strategy and a reasonable chance of raising sufficient funds to complete the project as described.

  • Is the budget thorough and realistic? Are line items in the budget within industry norms and standards?


    We strive to review all applications within 1 month of submission. However, this time frame is not guaranteed.

    Please budget our review process into the timeline when you are considering grant application deadlines. We are sometimes able to do rush reviews to meet specific funding related deadlines. Contact us before submitting if you have a specific deadline you need to meet.

    If you don't hear from us within one month of submitting your completed application, please give us a call for an update on the status of your application.

    Reviewers may contact you directly with questions or feedback about your application during the review process.