The 31st 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 are 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 November, 1 2021, are eligible for HSDFF 2022.

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

Feature and Short films that are available on VOD or a streaming platform may not be eligible for competition at the festival.

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.

Short films that are available on VOD or a streaming platform will not be eligible for competition at the festival.

SUBMISSIONS will be received between December and June of 2022, with notification of acceptance no later than September 30th, 2021.


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

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
Once accepted, if distribution plans accelerate and you find that your film will be released, theatrically or otherwise, before October 16, 2022, 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.

Overall Rating
  • 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
  • clay pruitt

    The Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival was top notch. With 2020 being such a difficult year for everyone the Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival went above and beyond to make this virtual year the absolute best it could be. It wasn't as nice as being able to be there in person, but I truly felt their efforts to make it something special for everyone involved says so much for the film festival as a whole. Much thanks and respect for allowing me to be a part of it.

    January 2021
  • Megan Daniels

    The crew at HSDFF put together an excellent online film festival this year. Despite the pandemic, they worked tirelessly to maintain the integrity of their festival even though they had faced huge challenges unlike they've ever experienced. They gave filmmakers updates every few days, invited us to Q & As via Zoom, and provided audiences with an incredible selection of award-winning and notable, lesser-known films. I was humbled to have my film chosen for this festival. It was an honor to be a part of it.

    November 2020