27th Annual

Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival

October 19, 2018 to October 27, 2018

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659 Ouachita Ave.
Hot Springs National Park AR 71901
Phone: 501-538-0452

CLOSED FOR THE SEASON • Information may be outdated. Add this event to your Watch List and set a Remind-Me if you want to be notified when the next Call For Entries is posted.

Documentary Shorts
Non-fiction, maximum 40 minutes
Documentary Features
Non-fiction in all forms, minimum 40 minutes
Spa City Sports Series
Feature-length documentaries covering indoor and outdoor sports.
Virtual Reality Projects
Submissions in this category are eligible to be selected for the Festival’s VR Showcase. We encourage the diverse creative community of storytellers and technologists to submit inventive, independently produced works of documentary for consideration. Projects must be viewable via one of our accepted VR platforms (360° video, Oculus, HTC Vive, Google Daydream, Samsung Gear VR). We request that you provide a 2D version or documentation of the project via Withoutabox’s Secure Online Screener system. Virtual Reality Projects may have been previously made available, either for free or for purchase, via any existing distribution platform or exhibited at other festivals, industry trade shows, and/or conventions and still retain their eligibility for open submission to the Festival.
Episodic Content
Projects submitted in this category must be documentary series only. Applicants may submit single or multiple episodes of the same project. Multiple episodes should be uploaded as one continuous video file. We accept both short-form and long-form content, but individual episodes may not exceed 60 minutes in length. Open submissions in this category are not eligible for the Festival if the submitted content has been made available to the general public via any platform (broadcast television, Blu-ray, DVD, streaming, VOD, etc.) prior to Oct 19th, 2018. Projects originating from outside of the United States are still eligible provided that the content has only been released within their country of origin. If the submitted content is a continuation of an existing series that has previously been made available to the public, only new episodes are eligible for open submission to the Festival.


The mission of the Hot Springs Documentary Film Institute is to advance the documentary genre as a meaningful art form, to encourage innovation within the genre, to provide unique educational and cultural opportunities, and to preserve the Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival as one of the premiere documentary film festivals in the world.


The Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival is the oldest non-fiction festival in North America. HSDFF offers multiple awards categories, and is a designated Academy-Award© -qualifying festival for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in Documentary Short Subject. MovieMaker Magazine has named HSDFF to its global list of “50 Festivals Worth the Entry Fee”. Each year, HSDFF presents multiple special sidebar programs, one of the most recent being Women Behind the Lens:Diverse Perspectives in 2016, funded by a grant from the Academy®. Hot Springs presents the annual breakout Spa City Sports Series showcasing a selection of powerful human stories played out against the fields, arenas, rings and courts of competitive sports across the globe.

HSDFF, a 9-day all-pedestrian festival, makes its home in one of the most unique vacation destinations of the American South, the Historic Spa City of Hot Springs, Arkansas, with all screenings and parties held within easy walking distance. Each October, the city comes alive as film-lovers and filmmakers gather to immerse themselves in over 100 of the best international features and shorts the documentary world has to offer, and to attend unforgettable events. HSDFF offers one-of-a kind forums, tributes to industry greats, and numbers of noted guests and visiting professionals. Over the years, Hot Springs has hosted many of the greats in documentary film, and is known for its warmth and hospitality to filmmakers.


Annie Gerber (HSDFF Managing Director); Jennifer Gerber; Jennifer Gerber (Executive Director); Jennifer Gerber (Executive Director); Mara Bresnahan; Sheryl Santacruz (Associate Director); Sheryl Santacruz (Associate Director)


The Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival exhibits in a variety of program categories. Not all categories are competitive.

*Short Films: 40 minutes or less
*Features: Over 40 minutes
*Fees are non-refundable.
*Competition is open to U.S. and International entries.
*Films not in English must be subtitled in English

ELIGIBILITY: Feature and short documentary films completed after January 1, 2018 are eligible for HSDFF 2017 with preference given to films premiering after May 1, 2018.

Feature length films that have been released theatrically or broadcast on television nationally prior to the festival or are available on DVD or VOD are not eligible for competition status and will be considered for non-competitive sections only under special circumstances determined by the festival.

SUBMISSIONS will be received between January and August of 2018, with notification of acceptance no later than September 21st, 2018.


You may submit multiple entries but must fill out a separate entry form and pay an entry fee for each.

UPDATED CUTS: Our programming team will review the original screener received. HSDFF is unable to guarantee a review of the updated versions of your film, but links to new cuts can be emailed to courtney.hsdff@gmail.com

FEEDBACK: Unfortunately, due to the volume of submissions, we are unable to provide individualized feedback to filmmakers at this time.
Have additional questions about submitting? Please email info@hsdfi.org
Once accepted, if distribution plans accelerate and you find that your film will be released, theatrically or otherwise, before October 19, 2018, we ask that you notify us immediately.

Great care will be taken with entries while with us, however we cannot accept responsibility for loss or damage incurred en route, or due to normal wear and tear. HSDFF is held harmless from any and all claims, liabilities, losses, damages, and expenses that may be incurred by reason of any claim involving copyright, trademark, credits, publicity or screening of any film.


* The nonrefundable processing fee is payable in US dollars to HSDFI, check, money order or credit card.
* By submitting this material you acknowledge HSDFI's right to copy any submitted material for non-commercial use only.
* I, the undersigned, acknowledge and agree that, to the best of my knowledge, all of the statements in this document are true and that I am duly authorized to submit this film to the Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival. I further agree that if this film is selected, the Hot Springs Documentary Film Institute has permission to screen the film in the 2018 Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival, October 19th-27th, 2018