The 32nd Annual The Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival is the longest running 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®.

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.

Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival hosts multiple juries made up of industry professionals. Awards have been given in the categories of Best U.S. Documentary Feature, Best International Documentary Feature, Best Documentary Short and Audience Award as well as additional recognitions determined by the juries.

The winning short film in the Documentary Short Film Competition is eligible for Academy Award® consideration without the standard theatrical run, provided the film otherwise complies with the Academy rules.

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
*Episodic Series
*Fees are non-refundable.
*Competition is open to U.S. and International entries.
*Films not in English must be subtitled with English subtitles

ELIGIBILITY: Feature and short documentary films completed after September, 1 2022, are eligible for HSDFF 2023.

SUBMISSIONS will be received between December 2022 and June of 2023, with notification of acceptance no later than September 30th, 2023.

Feature and Short films that are available on VOD or a streaming platform may not be eligible for competition at the festival. HSDFF will decide on a case by case basis about competition status.

Feature length films that have been released theatrically or broadcast on television nationally prior to the festival will be considered for non-competitive sections only under special circumstances determined by the festival.


You may submit multiple entries but must fill out a separate entry form and PROVIDE 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

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.

Overall Rating
  • Alexander Jeffery

    It was an absolute honor to debut our Arkansas-based documentary, You Have No Idea, in October of 2022. The festival was incredibly well-run, the Q&A was fantastic, and the selection of films was absolutely stellar. Downtown Hot Springs is a lot of fun, highly recommend this festival!

    November 2022
  • Johanna Gustin

    It was such an honour to have "Dicks That I Like" premiere at HSDFF. We were lucky enough to be able to stay for the entire festival and had such an amazing time. It was so clear to me why HSDFF has the good reputation it does: communication was clear and helpful; programmers, staff and volunteers were all incredibly kind, professional and knowledgeable; our screening was well-attended and the Q&A was great; the festival itself (screenings, parties, etc) were all well-organized and immensely fun. I can't wait to come back again!

    October 2022
  • What an incredible honor it was to screen "You are Me & I am You" at this festival which screens some of the best documentaries made each year. I only wish we could have attended the festival in person. Perhaps on a future film.

    March 2022
  • It was an honor to premiere "Regeneration of Land and Culture" at the Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival! Sharing the documentary on the ancestral land of the Quapaw Nation was extra special. I loved how the HSDFF programming team reached out to have Chairman Byrd of Quapaw Nation share a land acknowledgement that we recorded and was played before every film. The team was so hospitable, kind, and thoughtful in their event curation. There is a reason HSDFF is such an acclaimed film festival!

    November 2021
  • Jonathan Bryant Crawford

    A must on the non fiction circuit. One of my favorites and a very cool city to visit.

    October 2021