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Arvest Bank is working with the Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival to find a way to keep the Malco Theater out of foreclosure, the festival director says.

Carol Kimery was vague on what assistance Arvest is offering the HSDFI, but said "we've been working on this a long time."

Arvest began foreclosure proceedings on the Malco last month, claiming in court documents that the HSDFI owes it $330,000. The board in 2008 used the Malco as collateral on an Arvest loan of $150,000 to buy the parking lot next door to the theater. The three-year loan had a final balloon payment of $140,000, which the festival could not pay. It still owes $185,000 on the theater itself. The HSDFI is trying to sell the parking lot.

Kimery insists this year's Documentary Film Festival, scheduled Oct. 12 through 21, will go on at the Malco as planned. Jim Miller, a volunteer and former assistant director of the festival, told the Times the HSDFI failed to obtain grants and private funds but hopes that the festival "will be able to continue to rent or have access to the Malco in the future."

Keith Pike, an attorney with the Wagoner Law Firm, which is representing the Hot Springs Documentary Film Institute, contends the Malco is not in real jeopardy of being lost to the bank.

"The theater is not at risk," Pike said. "There are four buildings and a parking lot [owned by the HSDFI]. Technically there's a lien against the theater, but the amount of the loans that are owed to Arvest are a lot less than the property that's securing those loans. The other properties, if need be, can be sold without the theater." The other buildings owned by the HSDFI, Pike said, are office buildings adjacent and attached to the theater, but are separated by walls, meaning they could be sold individually.   

"It's very simple," Pike said. "There was a commercial loan, the commercial loan expired at a balloon payment, and they couldn't meet the time frame to get it paid off or refinanced. They're still working on it, but it'll happen."

Pike is scheduled to file a response to the Arvest foreclosure filing in Garland County Circuit Court later this week.

For now, the HSDFI is still holding events at the Malco. At 7:30 p.m. March 9, the HSDFI will host a benefit screening there of the documentary "Patriot Guards," and the film "NRA's Life of Duty: A Tribute to Adam Brown, Navy SEAL," the story of a graduate of nearby Lake Hamilton High School who died in 2010. 

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