Our submission are closed. We hope you will join us virtually for the 29th Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival this October, 9-17th. Tickets will be on sale the week of September 21st.

Best wishes,
The team at HSDFF

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The Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival, celebrating its 29th Anniversary October 9th-October 17th is the oldest 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
*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 2019, are eligible for HSDFF 2020 with preference given to films premiering after May 1, 2020.

SUBMISSIONS will be received between January and July of 2020, with notification of acceptance no later than September 30th, 2020.

Feature and Short films that are available on VOD or a streaming platform will 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 January and July of 2020, with notification of acceptance no later than September 30th, 2020.

SUBMISSION FORMAT: ENTRIES MUST BE SUBMITTED FOR PRE-SCREENING WITH VIMEO OR YOUTUBE LINK. You are required to keep us updated with passwords.

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 hsdfi@hsdfi.org

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 hsdfi@hsdfi.org
Once accepted, if distribution plans accelerate and you find that your film will be released, theatrically or otherwise, before October 17, 2020, we ask that you notify us immediately.

LIABILITY
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
Quality
Value
Communication
Hospitality
Networking
  • 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
  • Hot Springs were truly amazing - they did everything in their power to bring the filmmakers together and to try and create the in-person festival vibe during these covid times. A film line up of staggeringly awesome films. We felt honored to included. Great festival!

    October 2020
  • Joseph Pelegreen

    In the midst of the craziest year possible for festivals, HSDFF stood out and raised the standard. Their focus on their filmmakers and their constant effort to build the community was so appreciated. This truly has been our best fest of 2020, easily.

    October 2020
  • Brianne Berkson

    Hot Springs is an incredible festival. We felt so supported and appreciated, and the caliber of Films selected is really top notch. We were honored when we learned we’d be part of this Festival, and felt this even stronger after. Thank you for a great experience and a fabulous Festival! We will see you in Hot Springs as soon as we can.

    October 2020
  • Tal Amiran

    It was an honour to screen at HSDFF. The festival in its virtual incarnation this year was so well organised and put together with Q&As, special events and a robust programme of shorts and features. Communication was fantastic and as a whole I cannot recommend the festival highly enough.

    October 2020