27th Annual Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival

Oct 19-27th

The Longest Running All-Documentary Film Festival in North America


2018 Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival


(Tickets & Schedule will be available Monday, Oct 1st)

US Films

93Queen, Dir. Paula Eiselt (90 mins)

Set in the Hasidic enclave of Borough Park, Brooklyn, 93Queen follows a group of tenacious Hasidic women who are smashing the patriarchy in their community by creating the first all-female volunteer ambulance corps in New York City.

Behind the Curve Dir. Daniel J. Clark (96 mins)

Meet real Flat Earthers, a small but growing contingent of people who firmly believe that there is a centuries' long conspiracy to suppress the truth that the Earth is flat.

Big Time Dir. Kaspar Astrup Shröder (92 mins)

This philosophical portrait follows the “starchitect,” Bjarke Ingles over a six-year period as he opens a New York office and starts to redesign the iconic Manhattan skyline through his biggest projects yet: the W57 skyscraper and Two World Trade Center.

Blowin’ Up Dir. Stephanie Wang-Brea (94 mins)

Working within a broken criminal justice system, a team of rebel heroines work to change the the way women arrested and prosecuted for prostitution.

Chef Flynn Dir. Cameron Yates (82 mins)

Ten-year-old Flynn transforms his living room into a supper club using his classmates as line cooks. With sudden fame, Flynn outgrows his bedroom kitchen, and sets out to challenge the hierarchy of the culinary world.

The Devil We Know Dir. Stephanie Soechtig (88 mins)

A group of citizens in West Virginia challenges a powerful corporation to be more environmentally responsible.

Dons of Disco Dir. Jonathan Sutak (85 mins)

A character-driven documentary about a 1980s lip-syncing scandal that escalates into a bitter war between an American singer and an Italian male model.

Eating Animals Dir. Christopher Quinn (94 mins)

Based on Jonathan Safran Foer's best-selling memoir and narrated by Natalie Portman, this eye-opening film eulogizes the billions of animals that lead lives of misery and mourns a world changed for the worse by factory farming.

Farmsteaders Dir. Shaena Mallett (60 mins)

A love story, a farm story, and a story of contemporary rural America. Set in the verdant foothills of Ohio, this intimate portrait about a young family and their independent dairy farm is as much a study of place as it is a study of persistence.

Far From the Tree Dir. Rachel Dretzin (93 mins)

Based on the NY Times bestselling book by Andrew Solomon, Far from the Tree examines the experiences of families in which parents and children are profoundly different from one another in a variety of ways.

Freaks and Geeks: A Documentary Dir. Brent Hodge (64 mins)

The creators and stars of the TV show Freaks and Geeks share their untold stories and pivotal moments from the making of the series that only aired for one season.

General Magic Dir. Sarah Kerruish & Matt Maude (90 mins)

A documentary about a business that Forbes described as the "greatest dead company in Silicon Valley." It is a tale of how great vision and epic failure changed the world as we know it.

The Gospel According to André Dir. Kate Novack (93 mins)  

From the segregated American South to the fashion capitals of the world, operatic fashion editor André Leon Talley's life and career are on full display.

Hal Dir. Amy Scott (90 mins)

Director of the cult hits Harold and Maude, Shampoo, and The Last Detail, Hal Ashby was New Hollywood’s most countercultural and socially-oriented creative mind. This new documentary treats us to a treasure trove of archival footage and A-list recollections exploring Ashby’s tenure.

The Heat: A Kitchen (R)evolution Dir. Maya Gallus (75 mins)

A look at the women currently at the head of some of the world's top restaurants, and the next generation unwilling to submit to the brutal, macho conditions of the kitchen that were once considered the norm.

Joseph Pulitzer: Voice of the People Dir. Oren Rudavsky (84 mins)

Joseph J. Pulitzer came to America as a penniless immigrant but he became a wealthy and influential publisher who fought for the freedom of the press and whose newspaper The World became known as “The Friend of the People.”

The Last Race Dir. Michael Dweck (74 mins)

A portrait of a small-town stock car racetrack and the tribe of blue-collar drivers that call it home, struggling to hold onto an American racing tradition as the world around them is transformed by globalization and commercialization.

A Murder in Mansfield Dir. Barbara Kopple (87 mins_

In her latest documentary, Oscar-winning filmmaker Barbara Kopple takes on the “true crime” genre to explore the after-effects of tragedy when a convicted murderer is confronted by his son 26 years later.

No Greater Law Dir. Tom Dumican (89 mins)

The state of Idaho takes freedom of religion to extremes with a law that protects the rights of a Christian sect to withhold medical treatment for their children in lieu of prayer and faith-healing.

Our New President Dir. Maxim Pozdorovkin (77 mins)  

When it comes to fake news on steroids, Russia wins the Gold Medal. This nightmarishly distorted take on the 2016 Presidential campaign is told entirely through clips of Russian government-controlled news footage and the YouTube videos from mind-controlled Russian citizens.

Personal Statement Dir. Juliane Dressner (87 mins)

Three Brooklyn high school seniors pull double duty as they attempt to get themselves, as well as their peers, into college. Karoline, Christine, and Enoch struggle to break the barriers that prevent so many low-income students from attending and graduating from college.

Pick of the Litter Dir. Don Hardy Jr. & Dana Nachman (81 mins)

This adorable documentary follows a litter of puppies from the moment they're born and begin their quest to become Guide Dogs for the Blind, the ultimate canine career.

Quiet Heroes Dir. Jenny Mackenzie, Jared Ruga, Amanda Stoddard (68 mins)

Receiving care for HIV/AIDS in 1980s Salt Lake City was staggeringly difficult due to the Mormon Church’s political and social influence. Kristin Ries and Maggie Snyder were two crusading healthcare professionals who served as the area’s only means of medical support.

RBG Dir. Julie Cohen & Betsy West (98 mins)

A portrait of the exceptional life and career of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who has developed a breathtaking legal legacy while becoming an unexpected pop culture icon.

Roll Red Roll Dir. Nancy Schwartzman (80 mins)

When social media, "boys will be boys." and vigilante justice collide, Steubenville, Ohio will never be the same.

Science Fair Dir. Cristina Costantini & Darren Foster (90 mins)

Nine high school students from around the globe navigate rivalries, setbacks and, of course, hormones, on their journey to compete at The International Science and Engineering Fair.

Studio 54 Dir. Matt Tyrnauer (98 mins)

Studio 54 was the epicenter of 70s hedonism — a place that not only redefined the nightclub, but also came to symbolize an entire era. A tantalizing glimpse into the real story behind the velvet ropes.

This Changes Everything Dir. Tom Donahue (90 mins)

An investigative look and analysis of gender disparity in Hollywood, featuring accounts from well-known actors, executives, and artists in the Industry.

This Is Home Dir. Alexandra Shiva (91 mins)

Four Syrian refugee families attempt to resettle in Baltimore during the eight months before they become ineligible for financial assistance.

Time for Ilhan Dir. Norah Shapiro (89 mins)

This inspiring and suspenseful political documentary follows the campaign of Ilhan Omar, a young Somalian Muslim immigrant woman who attempts to unseat a 43-year incumbent and other challengers.

United Skates Dir. Dyana Winkler & Tina Brown (89 mins)

When America's last standing roller rinks are threatened with closure, a community of thousands battle in a racially charged environment to save an underground subculture — one that has given rise to some of the world's greatest musical talent.

Won’t You Be My Neighbor? Dir. Morgan Neville (94 mins)

An exploration of the life, lessons, and legacy of iconic children's television host, Fred Rogers, and a plea for more civility in this world.

The World Before Your Feet Dir. Jeremy Workman (96 mins)

A sublime journey inside authentic New York City as seen through the eyes and adventures of "walker" Matt Green, who has taken on the personal project of walking every street and path in NYC.

International Films

América Dir. Erick Stoll & Chase Whiteside (76 mins)

Mexican brothers Rodriguez, Bruno, and Diego are unexpectedly tasked with caring for their 93-year-old grandmother despite growing familial tensions and disagreements.

Ask the Sexpert Dir. Vaishali Sinha (80 mins)

Ninety-three-year old Dr. Watsa is a popular sex advice columnist in India despite sex being a taboo topic there and political activists trying to censor him.

Call Her Ganda Dir. PJ Raval (98 mins) 

When Jennifer Laude, a Filipina trans woman, is brutally murdered by a U.S. Marine, three women intimately invested in the case — an activist attorney, a transgender journalist, and Jennifer's mother — galvanize a political uprising, pursuing justice, and taking on hardened histories of US imperialism.

Facing the Dragon Dir. Sedika Mojadidi (80 mins)

Afghan-American filmmaker Sedika Mojadidi follows two extraordinary Afghan women, a politician and a journalist, to examine what is happening to women as American troops and international aid pull out of Afghanistan.

From All Corners Dir. Ryusuke Okajima (93 mins)

Artist Fuyuki Shimazu will redefine your idea of what "precious" means with his meticulously crafted wallets, upcycled from discarded cardboard boxes.

The Interpreters Dir. Andres Caballero & Sofian Khan (76 mins)

Local interpreters were key to the US war effort in the Middle East, but now these unsung heroes face danger in their countries because of their affiliation.

Letter From Masanjia Dir. Leon Lee (75 mins)

After a woman in Oregon opens up a package of Halloween decorations to discover a note inside written by a political prisoner from a Chinese labor camp, she publishes the story which gets worldwide media attention resulting in labor reform in China.

The Next Guardian Dir. Arun Bhattarai & Dorottya Zurbó (74 mins)

The contrasting dreams of two generations clash within the microcosm of an ancient Buddhist monastery in Bhutan, when Gyembo an ordinary teenager is chosen as the next guardian of the family monastery.

Patrimonio Dir. Lisa F. Jackson & Sarah Teal (83 mins)

Located on the coast of Baja, California, the small Mexican town of Todos Santos is threatened by a multinational corporation that is building a gigantic hotel and condo complex that will deplete the water supply and force the fishermen off the beach.

The Silence of Others Dir. Almudena Carracedo & Robert Baha (96 mins)

The victims of Spain's 40 year dictatorship under General Franco continue to seek justice and and try to prosecute the criminals of the Franco regime in a country that forbids it.

Whispering Truth to Power Dir. Shameela Seedat (86 mins)

Filmmaker and human rights lawyer Shameela Seedat tracks Thuli Madonsela, South Africa’s first female Public Protector, as she builds her second case against the country’s President, Jacob Zuma.

A Woman Captured  Dir. Bernadett Tuza-Ritter (89 mins)

A European woman has been kept by a family as a domestic slave for 10 years. Drawing courage from the filmmaker's presence, she decides to escape the unbearable oppression and become a free person.

Southern Stories

Daughters of the Sexual Revolution: The Untold Story of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders Dir. Dana Adam Shapiro (80 mins)

**Closing Night Film**

Seen by many as regressive and exploitative, this diverse sisterhood of small-town "girls next door" became a controversial pop culture phenomenon at the height of the Sexual Revolution.

The Gospel of Eureka Dir. Donal Mosher & Michael Palmieri (75 mins)

**Centerpiece Film**

Love, faith, and civil rights collide in the south as evangelical Christians and drag queens step into the spotlight to explore the meaning of belief.

Hale County This Morning, This Evening Dir. RaMell Ross (76 mins)

Composed of intimate and unencumbered moments of people in a community, this film is constructed in a form that allows the viewer an emotive impression of the Historic South — trumpeting the beauty of life and consequences of the social construction of race, while simultaneously a testament to dreaming.

Hillbilly Dir. Sally Rubin & Ashley York (77 mins)

**Opening Night Film**

An examination of the iconic hillbilly image in media and culture throughout the years, offering an urgent exploration of how we see and think about rural America in the aftermath of the 2016 Presidential election.

Ingrid Dir. Morrisa Maltz (51 mins)

An intimate look at a woman who left her life as a successful fashion designer in Dallas, Texas, to become a reclusive hermit in the Ouachita Mountains, immersed in nature, focused solely on creating art.

Make Room for Pie Dir. Larry Foley (44 mins)

Food writer Kat Robinson hosts this tour across Arkansas, from the Delta to the Ozark hills, where colorful characters create sweet masterpieces with just the right amount of love and creative soul.

Man on Fire Dir. Joel Fendelman (54 mins)

Grand Saline, Texas was a sleepy, unremarkable town — until a white preacher lit himself on fire to protest the town's racism in 2014.

Rodents of Unusual Size Dir. Quinn Costello, Chris Metzler, Jeff Springer (61 mins)

The residents of Louisiana never know what will attack them next: floods, hurricanes, even monstrous swamp rats. Gigantic orange-toothed nutria are eating up the coastal wetlands, destroying the landscape, and threatening the very existence of the human population

While I Breathe, I Hope Dir. Emily Harrold (75 mins)

What does it mean to be young, Black, and Democrat in the American South? While I Breathe, I Hope follows South Carolina Politician Bakari Sellers as he runs to become the first African American elected statewide in over a century.

Sports Films

Bethany Hamilton: Unstoppable Dir. Aaron Lieber (98 mins)

At age 13, Bethany Hamilton survived a shark attack that severed her right arm yet she was back on the competitive circuit in just a year. Now more than a decade later, Hamilton is a mother undertaking her most daunting challenge — chasing a toddler as well as the biggest wave of her career.

Free Solo Dir. Jimmy Chin & Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi (97 mins)

Follow Alex Honnold as he becomes the first person to ever free solo climb Yosemite's 3,000ft high El Capitan Wall. With no ropes or safety gear, he’s completed arguably the greatest feat in rock climbing history.

Jacks & Jills Adam Harbottle (55 mins)

The Lumberjack World Championships is beautifully captured on film by local Arkansas filmmaker Adam Harbottle, in all of its log-rolling, tree-climbing glory. It’s like the rural, nature version of American Ninja Warrior.

Momentum Generation Dir. Jeff Zimbalist & Michael Zimbalist (103 mins)

A group of teenagers in Hawaii enter the world of professional competitive surfing in the 1990s and rise to superstardom.

This Mountain Life Dir. Grant Baldwin (77 mins)

Undefined by age, gender, profession or background, a group of adventurous people sacrifice comfort and personal safety for a life of recreation in the peaks of British Columbia, Canada.

Too Beautiful: Our Right To Fight Dir. Maceo Frost (75 mins)

The film captures the tireless battle of Namibia Flores Rodriguez, the only known female boxer in Cuba who aspires to represent the Caribbean Nation in the Olympics despite the country’s ban on women’s competitive boxing.

Transformer Dir. Michael Del Monte (78 mins)

Matt Kroc was the ultimate alpha-male, a football player in high school, and a former marine who set a world record for combined powerlifting. But in 2015 he transitioned to become Janae Marie Kroczaleski, a trans-woman who continues life as a competitive weightlifter.

Wrestle Dir. Suzannah Herbert (96 mins)

An intimate and nuanced documentary that follows the wrestling team at JO Johnson High School in Huntsville, Alabama. As they fight their way towards the State Championship and the doors they hope it will open, wrestlers Jailen, Jamario, Teague, and Jaquan each face injustices and challenges on and off the mat.


Adventure Before Dementia – dir.  Thomas Grainger

The Artifact Artist – dir. Russ Kendall

Baby Brother – dir. Kamau Bilal

Beneath the Ink – dir. Cy Dodson

Big Elvis – dir. Paul Stone

A Butcher’s Heart – dir. Marijn Frank

The Changing Same – dir. Joe Brewster & Michele Stephenson

Chula, With Invisible Strings – dir. Emily Collins

Community Patrol – dir. Andrew James

Death Metal Grandma – dir. Leah Galant

Earthrise – dir. Emmanuel Vaughan-Lee

The End of Weed – dir. Kristy Guevara-Flanagan

Erasing the Border – dir. Laura Herrero Garvin

Fake News Fairytale – dir. Kate Stonehill

Ferryman at the Wall – dir. David Freid

Fight for the First - dir. Sharon Liese

The Girl and the Picture – dir. Vanessa Roth

Guns Found Here – dir. David Freid

Hoan Alone: Personal Stories from the Bridge – dir. Aaron Johnson

Homeless: The Soundtrack – dir. Irene Taylor Brodsky

Hula Girl - dir. Riess Hill

I Heart NY - dir. Andre Andreev

Kafka Shrugged– dir. Anne S. Lewis

Last Dance at Johnson’s Barn – dir. Clay Haskell

The Last Storm – dir. Liam Saint-Pierre

Let My People Vote – dir. Gilda Ann Brasch

Little Fiel – dir. Irina Patkanian

Lonesome Willcox – dir. Ryan Maxey & Zack Wright

Look Up – dir. David Freid

Lotte that Silhouette Girl – dir. Carla Patullo & Elizabeth Beecherl

Mama – dir. Nicholas Brennan

Matthew’s Gift – dir. Jon Watts

Mining Phosphorus – dir. Alan Toth

My Dead Dad’s Porno Tapes – dir. Charlie Tyrell

My Grandfather’s Memory Book – dir. Colin Levy

My Indiana Muse – dir. Jennifer Serena and Ric Serena

A Night at the Garden – dir. Marshall Curry

Notes from Dunblane: Lessons from a School Shooting – dir. Kim A. Snyder

Nueva Vida – dir. Jonathan Seligson

Period. End of Sentence – dir. Rayka Zehtabchi

Rebuilding in Miniature – dir. Veena Rao

Rescate – dir. Mark Bone

Saul’s 108th Story – dir. Joshua Carlon

Sidelined – dir. Galen Summer

Sununu: The Revolution of Love – dir. Olivia Crellin

The Thomas Fire Architect – dir. Nicholas Weissman

Tomnoddy – dir. Charles Poekel

Tracing Addai – dir. Esther Niemeier

Tungrus – dir. Rishi Chandna

An Unexpected Christmas – dir. Michi Marosszeky

Unforgivable – dir. Giosue Petrone

The Water Slide – dir. Nathan Truesdell

Zaza Rising – dir. Lena Strothe

Zion – dir. Floyd Russ

41x – dir. Brian Carlson

49 Mile Scenic Drive – dir. Bradley Smith

Made in Arkansas SHORTS

Conway Pride – dir. Stephen Stanley

Cotton Plant – dir. Matthew Michaud

DeLuca’s Pizza – dir. Scarlett Gooch

Frank Broyles, Arkansas Legend – dir. Larry Foley

Happy Destiny Homes – dir. Michael Mueller

The Under3 Series – dir. Kevin Clark

In 2017, HSDFF had a record year for attendance and we were honored to host some of the world’s most influential storytellers of our time!

2018 Special Guest Announcement Coming Soon!


World Class Film Screening

The Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival offers an extraordinary mix of documentary features and shorts, both domestic and international, as well as exclusive film panels, tributes to industry greats, and local access to a host of celebrity guests and visiting professionals. Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival is one of only 38 festivals worldwide that has been designated an Oscar-qualifier in the category of Documentary Short Subject by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.



The Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival is fueled entirely by the support of a thriving community of filmgoers and film lovers and we hope that you will consider supporting the 27th annual Festival either through a sponsorship or by joining our team of dedicated volunteers!