The 33rd annual Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival (October 18 - 26, 2024) is
the longest-running nonfiction film 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”. HSDFF, a 9-day event, makes its home in one of the most unique
vacation destinations of the American South, the historic Spa City of Hot Springs,
Arkansas, with almost all screenings and parties held within easy walking
distance. Each October, the city comes alive as film lovers and filmmakers gather
to participate in screenings of over 100 of the best international features and
shorts, and to attend unforgettable events. Along with Gala screenings and
events, including Opening and Closing Night and Centerpiece Galas, HSDFF also
honors filmmakers and top industry leaders with various on-stage award
ceremonies, including the Career Achievement Award and the Impact Award.
Over the years, Hot Springs has hosted many legends in documentary film and is
known for its warmth and hospitality to filmmakers.

At the 2023 festival, HSDFF launched the first ever Filmmaker Forum, a two-day
filmmaker/industry conference. Held on October 9 and 10, the conference offered
dynamic programming focused on the business, art and craft of documentary
filmmaking. The Forum, with a major focus on public media, aims to become a
major annual convening of filmmakers and industry leaders from throughout the
South and Mid-South regions and from across the U.S. Over 100 filmmakers and
40-plus top industry leaders attended the inaugural Filmmaker Forum. The
Filmmaker Forum is expected to return in 2024 as an integral part of HSDFF.

Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival hosts multiple juries made up of
filmmakers, critics/journalists and industry leaders. Awards are given in the
categories of Best Documentary Feature, Critics Prize, Best Documentary Short
and Audience Awards, as well as additional recognitions determined by the
juries. In partnership with PBS’ Reel South, HSDFF also presents the Reel South
Award to a short film. Audience Choice Awards are given to Best Feature, Best
Short and Best Southern Feature/Episodic.

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,
2023, are eligible for HSDFF 2024. 
SUBMISSIONS will be received between December 2023 and July of 2024, with
final notifications of acceptances anticipated to be by September 30th, 2024.

Overall Rating
  • Wish I could give 6 or 9 stars for hospitality. Screening at Hot Springs is an amazing experience. The Filmmaker Forum was top notch. The community of Hot Springs is unlike anywhere in America and they pack screenings. I hope to have the opportunity to return to this special festival. I have been given the tools and insight to produce a debut feature because of my experience in Hot Springs, Arkansas. Thank you!

    October 2023
  • 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