Standout Lineup for Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival


The lineup for the 23rd annual Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival, held October 10-19 in Hot Springs, has been set.  This year includes a standout list of not only documentary films, but of celebrity guests including actor George Takei, Academy Award-nominated actresses Tess Harper (who was born in Arkansas and is a member of the Arkansas Entertainers Hall of Fame), Joey Lauren Adams (born in Arkansas and famous for many roles including Chasing Amy), director/producer Harry Thomason (an Arkansas native) Olympic diving champ Greg Louganis (who will be attending the screening of  Back on Board—a film about his life), actor/director Luke Wilson (who is showing his mockumentary Satellite Beach) and more.


The festival, which is the longest running documentary film festival in the U.S. and serves as an Academy Award qualifier in the Documentary Short Subject category, is being held at the Arlington Hotel, located at 239 Central Ave. Film screenings will be on the second story of the hotel. In addition to films, filmmaker receptions and parties will take place in venues up and down Central Avenue and beyond. Panels and forums are also on the lineup including one by the Emmy nominated documentary filmmakers The Renaud Brothers (Craig and Brent), who serve as directors of the Little Rock Film Festival and are founders of the Arkansas Motion Picture Institute.

The film Glen Campbell…I’ll be Me, will open the festival. The documentary tells the story of famed country singer Glen Campbell, who was born and raised in Delight, Arkansas. Following the film will be a Q&A with both the director and producer of the film, as well as Campbell’s wife and children.


Closing out the festival will be a screening of the documentary To Be Takei, which profiles the life of actor and activist George Takei.  Recognized for his role on Star Trek, Takei will be in attendance at the screening for a Q&A following the film. On a side note, Takei was in Arkansas last year for the opening of the World War II Japanese American Internment Museum in McGehee and the Rohwer Relocation Center in Rohwer.


A few highlights of the festival include a 20th anniversary screening of the Oscar nominated Hoops Dreams, which was named the best film of 1994 by Siskel and Ebert when it was first showcased. Arthur Agee Jr., who was featured in the film, will a special guest.

Others who will attend include writer and director Debra Granik, of Winter’s Bone fame. She will be there to show Stray Dog, which follows biker and Vietnam vet Ron ‘Stray Dog’ Hall. Both she and Hall will be at the screening. Illusionist James Randi will also be at the festival to show the film, An Honest Liar, which profiles the life of the famed magician. He will attend a Q&A session after the screening.

Overall, many standout documentaries are on the lineup to be shown at the festival.  For more details on the program, visit or their facebook page at or call 501-538-2290. On  a side note, the executive director of the festival is Courtney Pledger and journalist Lauren Wissot, who is a contributing editor at Filmmaker Magazine, is this year’s programming director. Wissot wrote about HSDFI last year for the publication. It made such an impression on her that she signed on to be part of the team this year.