Hot Springs Film Festival Set To Return

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HOT SPRINGS – The organizers of the Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival, returning for its 30th edition next month, announced the 2021 film lineup on Wednesday, featuring chefs, tennis players, a daring rescue and several local sites.

The opening of the festival will be “Citizen Ashe”, from directors Sam Pollard and Rex Miller, on tennis legend Arthur Ashe. The film “details the development of Ashe, from revolutionary tennis legend to prominent public figure,” a press release read.

There will be two flagship films, one international and one national. The international film, “The Rescue”, is by Oscar-winning duo E. Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin, who won the Oscar for “Free Solo”. The film “viscerally tells the story of the unprecedented endeavor of saving a boys’ football team trapped in a flooded cave,” the statement said.

The other flagship film, “The Neutral Ground”, by filmmaker CJ Hunt, “explores the social upheaval caused by the planned removal of Confederate statues in New Orleans.”

The festival ends with “Julia”, a film from the creators of “RBG” which looks at chef Julia Child.

“It’s so awesome to release the lineup. I’m so proud of every movie on the show,” said Jen Gerber, executive director of the festival, noting that this year’s lineup is “one of my personal favorites.”

Gerber has named six must-see movies, including the four already named and two that focus on Hot Springs. She said the festival will feature “some truly amazing stories from Arkansas,” including “Forever Majestic” by director Michael Schwarz and “Broken Wings” by director Jonathan Sutak.

“For a city like Hot Springs, Arkansas, the Majestic was more than just a hotel – it held an important place in the collective memory of citizens. Despite several owners and frequent promises of renovation, the building would remain empty and eventually catch on fire in 2014. Complicated and deeply personal, ‘Forever Majestic’ considers the financial opportunity created by this fateful fire and wonders who is best served by its demolition, ”according to the festival’s website.

Gerber said that for “our Hot Springs community this will really resonate”.

This year has been “the most difficult year ever” to reduce the festival’s programming, she said.

Due to the festival’s return, in part, to the Malco Theater, she said they were forced to have a smaller lineup than usual with 35 feature films scheduled. She noted that they usually have between 50 and 55 movies.

“We’ve had to give up a lot of movies that we really love,” Gerber said.

About half of the films will be screened at the Malco, while half will be screened in the Crystal Ballroom at the Arlington Resort Hotel & Spa.

Due to the ongoing pandemic, Gerber said screenings will have reduced capacity and recommended people buy their tickets early because she can see “a lot of events sell out.”

The festival opens October 8 with “Citizen Ashe” at 7:00 p.m. at Horner Hall at the Hot Springs Convention Center, and will run until October 16, when “Julia” will screen at 7:00 p.m. at the Malco.


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