World Premiere of 'Flannery,' Film on Writer Flannery O'Connor, to Kick Off Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival
Arkansas-based festival adds two more world premieres to lineup, including Objector and Quest of The Muscle Nerd
The Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival today announced the world premiere of Flannery, a film about beloved Southern gothic author Flannery O'Connor, will open the 28th edition of North America's longest-running documentary festival.
Directors Elizabeth Coffman and Mark Bosco are expected to be on hand October 18 for the opening night event in the Arkansas spa resort of Hot Springs. Their film explores the life and literary legacy of the essayist and short story specialist whose work includes "A Good Man Is Hard to Find," "The Life You Save May Be Your Own," and "Everything That Rises Must Converge."
This festival makes perfect sense for Flannery. It is prestigious, historical, southern and wonderfully intimate.
"We are delighted and honored to hold our World Premiere at the Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival,” Coffman and Bosco said in a statement. “This festival makes perfect sense for Flannery. It is prestigious, historical, southern and wonderfully intimate. As O'Connor once wrote, ‘When in Rome, do as you done in Milledgeville’ [Georgia]."
HSDFF also announced the world premiere of Objector as the Centerpiece event of the festival, which runs from October 18-26. Objector, directed by Molly Stuart, offers "an intimate profile of Atalya Ben-Abba, a 19 year-old Israeli, who refuses conscription and becomes an accidental activist," according to festival programmers. "Stuart’s film provides a rare window into the Israel-Palestinian conflict through the perspective of a Jewish woman."
"Objector takes place on the other side of the world, but its themes of political awakening and youth activism are deeply relevant to the heartland of America,” the filmmaker said in a statement. “We’re thrilled to be able to share them at a festival with such a long history of excellence in documentary curation."
The festival announced its closing night selection will be the world premiere of Quest of the Muscle Nerd, directed by Jared Young and Matthew Young.
The film centers on Jerry Peacock, who aims "to organize the first ever Cosplay/Bodybuilding competition at the largest fandom based convention in the US where thousands of patrons flock to the convention entering costume competitions based solely on their outfits," according to HSDFF. "Jerry wants to offer something different. Why not have a competition that rewards both sides of the equation – costume and physique?"
The brothers Young describe their documentary "unconventional by most standards, while supremely entertaining. There is also a tenderness to this film that we hope the Hot Springs audiences will appreciate."
“It is a real honor to present the World Premieres of Flannery, Objector and Quest of the Muscle Nerd as our spotlight films,” affirmed Jessie Fairbanks, HSDFF director of programming. “As my first year leading the programming team, my goal has been to curate stories showcasing brave, unique individuals overlooked by mainstream media. All of the subjects in our spotlight films are charismatic outsiders who live life on their own terms."
Oscar-nominated actress Diane Ladd will serve as this year's HSDFF Honorary Chairperson, the festival also revealed today.
"We are thrilled to have Ms. Ladd kick off our 28th annual festival!" executive director Jen Gerber said in a statement. "As a native of the South and a descendant of Tennessee Williams, her presence will amplify our mission to celebrate powerful voices of this region while shining a spotlight on the groundbreaking work presented by the filmmakers at our festival."
“I am so excited and proud to be part of this fantastic festival of non-fiction films and real stories,” Ladd said. “I am a huge fan of documentary films, as these are the last bastion of truth telling art. This year’s line up is incredible and this festival, organized by some amazing female filmmakers, is inspiring and impressive."
Ladd will be joined at the festival by many of the filmmakers whose work will be showcased at HSDFF, including the aforementioned Coffman and Bosco, along with Nanfu Wang (One Child Nation), Waad Al-Khateab (For Sama), Jenifer McShane (Ernie & Joe: Crisis Cops), David Charles Rodrigues (Gay Chorus Deep South), Eva Mulvad (Love Child), Kristof Bilsen (Mother), Andre Hormann (Ringside), Tim Tsai (Seadrift), Jacob Hamilton (Jump Shot), Midge Costin (Making Waves: The Art of Cinematic Sound), Peter Michael Dowd (Mr. Jimmy). Guitarist Akio Sukurai, main subject of Mr. Jimmy, will perform an acoustic set at the festival.
Wang and Al-Khateab will participate in a fireside chat, one of many panels to be held during the festival. Tim Horsburgh and Risé Sanders-Weir of Kartemquin Films will hold a master class in best practices for documentary film. Costin, director of Making Waves: The Art of Cinematic Sound, will take part in a discussion with Glenn Kiser, director of the Dolby Institute, and Oscar-winning sound editors/designers Ceclia Hall and Richard Anderson, who appear in the film.
For more information on the HSDFF program, click here.
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.