'Documentaries Are Truth': Hot Springs Festival Gets Underway in Arkansas Resort Town
One Child Nation's Nanfu Wang earns Impact Award and Flannery gets world premiere on festival's opening night
Director of Programming Jessie Fairbanks (left) moderates a panel with the filmmakers of "Flannery" on the Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival's opening night. L-R director Mark Bosco, director Elizabeth Coffman, cinematographer Ted Hardin, co-producer Christopher O'Hare. Friday, October 18, 2019. Photo by Matt Carey
The Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival is underway in the spa resort town of central Arkansas, the 28th annual edition of the longest-running all-documentary festival in North America.
The event running from October 18-26 kicked off with the world premiere of Flannery, the documentary by Elizabeth Coffman and Mark Bosco about the renowned Southern "gothic" writer Flannery O'Connor.
The filmmakers headed to Hot Springs from Washington DC, where on Thursday night their documentary received the inaugural Library of Congress Lavine/Ken Burns Prize for Film, which comes with a $200,000 award.
This is a huge and powerful moment not just for Hot Springs but for the festival circuit in general.
Introducing the film, Coffman likened the process of filmmaking to an observation O'Connor made about the craft to which she dedicated her life.
"'Writing is like giving birth to a piano sideways,'" she quoted O'Connor as saying. "'Those who persevere are either talented or nuts.'"
The evening began with a welcome from HSDFF executive director Jen Gerber, who noted the range of programming in store for festival attendees.
"This week we have 123 films from all around the world. We have almost a hundred filmmakers in attendance," she said, adding that more than a thousand films were submitted for consideration.
In addition to Flannery, the festival will host the world premieres of Objector, director Molly Stuart's "intimate profile of Atalya Ben-Abba, a 19 year-old Israeli, who refuses conscription and becomes an accidental activist," and Quest of the Muscle Nerd, directed by Jared Young and Matthew Young. The latter film focuses on Jerry Peacock, who aims "to organize the first ever Cosplay/Bodybuilding competition" in the U.S.
Matthew Carey is a documentary filmmaker and journalist. His work has appeared on Deadline.com, CNN, CNN.com, TheWrap.com, NBCNews.com and in Documentary magazine.