New convening aims to bring sharp focus to regional filmmaking and spotlight pivotal role of public media

Hot Springs, AR (August 25, 2023) – Now in its 32nd year, the 2023 Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival (HSDFF), to be held October 6 – 14, 2023, will launch a Filmmaker Forum to connect filmmakers and industry leaders on October 9 – 10 in Hot Springs, Arkansas. The Filmmaker Forum, funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), will serve as a major convening of documentary filmmakers and industry leaders from throughout the South/Mid-South and across the U.S. Through its dynamic programming and extensive networking opportunities, the Forum will establish stronger ties between filmmakers and public media. A partial list of public media organizations expected to participate includes ITVS, Arkansas PBS and Reel South.

For three decades, the Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival, the longest running documentary film festival in North America, has supported the work of Southern-based filmmakers. The Filmmaker Forum is designed to offer a vital new resource for filmmakers in the region. Through various partnerships with regional organizations, the Forum is intended to contribute to the work being done by organizations throughout the South and Mid-South. Invited participants also include IF/Then Shorts, a national fund and mentorship program for short documentaries, and the Video Consortium, a global nonfiction community.

At a time when the path to audiences has become more difficult, the Forum aims to increase access to information, resources, and a wide array of perspectives on the best path forward for documentary filmmakers.

“Given the disruption caused by the pandemic, which led to several key events in the South shutting down, as well as the obvious current distribution challenges faced by all filmmakers, we feel the time is right to start a new initiative for filmmakers throughout the South and Mid-South to deepen connections between filmmakers here and industry everywhere,” said incoming HSDFF Executive Director Ken Jacobson, who championed the Filmmaker Forum. “Partnering with public media puts our best foot forward toward supporting a burgeoning community of Southern filmmakers, shining a light on creative storytelling, and building new bridges with audiences.”

The Filmmaker Forum will offer dynamic programming on the business, art, and craft of documentary storytelling and take a wider-lens approach to the nonfiction ecosystem. The gathering will include keynotes, panels, workshops, one-on-one meetings with executives, and other opportunities for filmmakers to connect and foster community. Participants will include public and commercial media leaders, who will meet with filmmakers during scheduled industry meetings.

Intended for filmmakers at all stages of their careers, the Forum is open to directors, producers, editors, and cinematographers who have a major credit on at least one completed film (short or feature). Registration is free for Arkansas-based filmmakers and HSDFF alumni, with a nominal fee for others to attend.

Scroll to top