Favorite

Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival back, in the black 

The Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival, launched in 1992, seemed to be doing a financial rail grind on the rim of oblivion some years back. But in recent years, having shed some debt and moved its screenings to the Arlington Hotel and Low Key Arts, festival director Courtney Pledger says the HSDFI is comfortably in the black and better than ever, returned to doing what the festival does best: sharing real-life stories that would put the human drama found in any novel to shame.

This year's festival screens from Oct. 9-18, with tickets running from all-access VIP passes at $250, day passes at $25 and single-screening general admission for $7.50. Hit hsdfi.org for more information on ticket prices and the complete festival schedule coming soon.

Highlights of the festival are too numerous to list here, but I'll try to hit a few bright spots. For Hot Springs, the big news this year is the world premiere of the new documentary "The First Boys of Spring," by director Larry Foley. The film, narrated by Arkansas native Billy Bob Thornton, chronicles the surprising role Hot Springs played in the development of spring training for major league baseball teams, which figured out that going somewhere warm to get a head start on training made them better all season. Everybody who was anybody in the golden age of baseball came to Hot Springs, partaking in the city's thermal baths and well-known debauchery, so the documentary should be enlightening for both baseball fans and lovers of the high-rolling history of the Spa City. Foley and legendary, El Dorado-born St. Louis Cardinal Lou Brock will be on hand for the screening.

Tickets for the "First Boys of Spring" premiere are $25 and include ballpark-style food and drink.

Another promising film is "The Primary Instinct," featuring character actor Stephen Tobolowsky. Tobolowsky, who has played memorable (though probably not memorable enough to remember his name) roles in everything from "Groundhog Day" to "Mississippi Burning," to Christopher Nolan's "Memento," will be on hand to introduce the film, which explores his love and mastery of the tricky art of oral storytelling. Tobolowsky's podcast, "The Tobolowsky Files," has been around since 2009, and, like the film, features the know-the-face-when-you-see-him actor telling stories and his fascination with the form.

As a reporter who often digs into the terrible intricacies of crime, I'm understandably drawn to the documentary "dream/killer." It's the story of Bill Ferguson, a doting father who fights to save his son, Ryan Ferguson, from prison for the senseless 2001 murder of a Columbia, Mo., newspaper reporter. The case was unsolved for two years, until Ryan Ferguson's friend Kent Heitholt dreamed he'd done the killing, became convinced he was the murderer, confessed to the police, and implicated Ryan as an accomplice. What happened from there turns out to be a riveting story of a father's love, the reality of false confessions and the myriad ways the justice system can go haywire.

Fans of country music and quirky comeback stories might want to check out "Made in Japan." It's the story of Tomi Fujiyama, a singer brought up in the thoroughly weird Japanese subculture of country-western music fanatics. In 1964, already a star in Japan, Fujiyama came to the U.S. to play the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville. Sharing the stage with the likes of Earl Scruggs, Lester Flatt and Johnny Cash, Fujiyama got the only standing ovation of the night. Fifty years and a long career later, she returns to America in the hopes of playing the Opry one more time. Looks to be a whole lotta fun. Fujiyama will be on hand.

Another film that looks great is "Can You Dig This" by director Delila Vallot. The film, executive produced by singer John Legend, explores the minds and motives behind urban garden plots in Watts, South Central, Compton and other inner-city L.A. communities, where people can find hope and promise in a handful of dirt. The film has an local connection: One of the gardeners featured is Hosea Smith, an Arkansas native who spent 30 years in prison before moving to California. Others featured include an 8-year-old trying to help her family make ends meet, and a young man who starts working at his community garden to pick up tips on growing marijuana, but soon finds his own green thumb and a love of the soil.

Favorite

From the ArkTimes store

Speaking of...

Comments

Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

More by David Koon

  • For lovers

    We put our usual cynicism and grousing on hold as we genuflect in the direction of Aphrodite, with highly questionable sex and relationship advice from our staff, much sounder advice from an honest-to-God sex therapist and entertainment editor Stephanie Smittle's survey of two of the state's finer rubber schlong and porno emporiums.
    • Feb 8, 2018
  • Desperation and doubt on display as Ark. State Medical Board considers rules to help curb over-prescription of opioids.

    At a meeting of the Arkansas State Medical Board this morning, board members heard from doctors, patients and state leaders on proposed rules changes for physicians, designed to help curb the state's opioid epidemic.
    • Feb 1, 2018
  • Rutledge: AG's office will investigate drug makers over opioid addiction in Arkansas

    Citing what she called "staggering statistics," including Arkansas's #2 ranking for overall opioid prescriptions, and top ranking in the number of teens abusing prescription painkillers, Attorney General Leslie Rutledge announce today that her office will investigate the corporate manufacturers of opioid drugs, bringing on extra help from private firms, with an eye toward potential litigation or prosecutions.
    • Jan 24, 2018
  • More »

Readers also liked…

Most Shared

  • In the margins

    A rediscovered violin concerto brings an oft-forgotten composer into the limelight.
  • Donald Trump is historically unpopular — and not necessarily where you think

    My colleagues John Ray and Jesse Bacon and I estimate, in the first analysis of its kind for the 2018 election season, that the president's waning popularity isn't limited to coastal cities and states. The erosion of his electoral coalition has spread to The Natural State, extending far beyond the college towns and urban centers that voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016. From El Dorado to Sherwood, Fayetteville to Hot Springs, the president's approval rating is waning.
  • Arkansans join House vote to gut Americans with Disabilities Act

    Despite fierce protests from disabled people, the U.S. House voted today, mostly on party lines, to make it harder to sue businesses for violating the Americans with Disabilities Act. Of course Arkansas congressmen were on the wrong side.

Latest in Cover Stories

  • Locked away and forgotten

    In 2017, teenagers committed to rehabilitative treatment at two South Arkansas juvenile lockups did not receive basic hygiene and clothing supplies and lived in wretched conditions.
    • Feb 14, 2018
  • The frontier of X-rated

    Peddling porn in Johnson County.
    • Feb 8, 2018
  • For lovers

    We put our usual cynicism and grousing on hold as we genuflect in the direction of Aphrodite, with highly questionable sex and relationship advice from our staff, much sounder advice from an honest-to-God sex therapist and entertainment editor Stephanie Smittle's survey of two of the state's finer rubber schlong and porno emporiums.
    • Feb 8, 2018
  • More »

Event Calendar

« »

February

S M T W T F S
  1 2 3
4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28  

Most Viewed

  • Locked away and forgotten

    In 2017, teenagers committed to rehabilitative treatment at two South Arkansas juvenile lockups did not receive basic hygiene and clothing supplies and lived in wretched conditions.

Most Recent Comments

 

© 2018 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation