27th Annual Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival Announces this Year's Award Winners

27th Annual Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival Announces this Year's Award Winners

The Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival (HSDFF), presented by Mountain Valley Spring Water, announced today the winners for this year's festival. Awards were given to films in the U.S. Documentary, International, Sports, Southern and Short Feature categories as well as an Audience Award for overall documentary at the festival.

Below is the full list of awards presented by the Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival juries:

Best U.S. Documentary Feature: Time for Ilhan

Honorable Mention: United Skates

Jury Statement:

"Before announcing Best US Documentary, the Jury would like to extend an additional honor. For the focus it brings to a shrinking but enduring US past time, its relevance to the broader conversation about zoning and racism, and for its exquisite cinematography, the US Feature Jury of the Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival awards United Skates an Honorable Mention."

"For its dramatic structure and cinematography, for its timeliness and message of diversity on all levels, and for its emotional center at the heart of a dramatic election, the US Feature Jury of the Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival awards Time for Ilhan "Best US Feature Documentary."

Best International Feature: A Woman Captured

Jury Statement:

"The International Feature competition winner is visceral in its revelation of a shocking social ill, yet the film is not intrinsically a social issue film. It has a lot more on its mind-namely, the unwritten covenant between filmmaker and protagonist, one defined both by trust, empathy and honesty and by the necessary distance a filmmaker maintains at the service of artistic integrity. In this film, the director breaches that distance in deference to the moral implications of not doing so. The films pulls and pushes you in many directions-dropping you, from the onset, into a disorienting environment, then immersing you in a scenario that is both deeply engrossing and horrific in its circumstances. And yet, despite the dread and despair, a faint ray of hope and resilience emanates from the protagonist. We, the jury, are honored to give the award for Best International Feature to A Woman Captured, by Bernadett Tuza-Ritter."

Best Sports Feature: Wrestle

Jury Statement:

"This documentary's intimate and personal cinematography and elegant editing impressed us and revealed a true mastery of craft. Through a contained story, the directors illuminated global truths and displayed tremendous patience, allowing the viewer to lean in and engage with both flawed and remarkable people at once. This film tells the story of Alabama teenagers attempting to overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles through one historic wrestling season, but it's also the story of how sports can transcend mere competition and play an active role in coping with the world's ills. At times thrilling, frustrating, thoughtful, and funny, Wrestle is both a technical achievement and a film of urgency, with potential to start some much-needed conversations about race, privilege, class, and education in America."

Best Southern Feature: The Gospel of Eureka

Jury Statement:

"For celebrating the tolerance and love among the glorious eccentrics of Eureka Springs, Arkansas, a very special town where the gay and Christian communities live in evident harmony, in a lovely and joyful humanist examination, the award for Best Southern Feature Documentary goes to Donal Mosher and Michael Palmieri's Gospel of Eureka."

Best Short Film: The Last Storm

Jury Statement:

"For its astonishing visuals and empathetic and well-crafted story of a humbly courageous cancer survivor chasing his dreams, The Last Storm."

Audience Award: Wrestle

"We had a wonderful year showcasing some of the best documentaries of 2018," said Jennifer Gerber, Executive Director of the Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival. "This year's winners represented a range of world views including female empowerment, overcoming insurmountable obstacles and finding the strength of love, compassion and understanding within humanity. These films showed us that there is still work to be done, but that we can continue to have faith in one another and build a better tomorrow."

The HSDFF awarded Director Brett Morgen, Jane, and Sally Jo Fifer, President and CEO of ITVS (Independent Television Service) with the 2018 Impact Awards, which were presented to individuals who have made a positive, valuable impact in the documentary world through their extensive contributions, artistic innovation or fearless dedication. Additionally, Billy Redden was presented the 2018 "Unsung Hero Award". Actress Missi Pyle served as this year's festival honorary chair.

The U.S. Documentary Features Jury is comprised of Aaron Soffin, documentary editor of seven feature length documentaries including Hell on Earth: The Fall of Syria and the: Rise of Isis, The Blood of My Brother and When Adnan Comes Home; Mimi Edmonds, documentary journalist and educator and former producer with CBS Reports and 60 Minutes; and Scott Mantz, film critic and President of the LA Online Film Critics Society.

The International Features Jury includes Tom White, Editor of Documentary Magazine and Josè F. Rodriguez, Director of Documentary Programs at Tribeca Film Institute.

The Sports Features Jury includes William Smith, content producer and a 2018 Impact Partners Producing Fellow for his work on Sanctuary; Aaron Katz, Head of Acquisitions for Oscilloscope Laboratories; and April Wolfe, filmmaker and film critic, with writing in The Village Voice, Film Comment, The Wrap, The Washington Post, Rolling Stone and other publications.

The Southern Features Jury includes Eseel Borlasa, veteran PR executive and Partner at After Bruce PR; Dr. Nate Kohn, professor at the University of Georgia, Associate Director of the George Foster Peabody Awards; Festival Director of Roger Ebert's Film Festival (Ebertfest); and an award-winning producer; and Rachel Raney, Director of National Productions & UNC-TV Original Content at UNC-TV, Public Media North Carolina.

The Shorts Features Jury includes Naomi Walker, Executive Director of the Southern Documentary Fund; Lauren Domino, a producer and writer; and Carroll Gelderman, domestic sales division at Cinetic Media.

The 27th annual HSDFF was held over the course of 9 days, October 19th-27th, at the historic Arlington Resort Hotel & Spa and kicked off with an Opening Night celebration and screening of the film Hillbilly (d. Ashley York and Sally Rubin), which takes a political, philosophical, and personal journey into the heart of the Appalachian region. The festival hosted a Centerpiece Screening of Gospel of Eureka (d. Donal Mosher and Michael Palmieri) and closed with a screening of Daughters of the Sexual Revolution: The Untold Stories of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders (d. Dana Adam Shapiro), which featured members of the original Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders in attendance.

About The Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival

Hosted by America's "First Resort Town" and held on the doorstep of a national park, the Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival is a culturally diverse and intergenerational event. The city's colorful past as the 1930's playground of Al Capone lingers in the air amidst the majestic turn of the century buildings that make up Bathhouse Row. In the 1950's, Hot Springs served as the boyhood home of President Bill Clinton.

Every October, this 9-day event takes over the town of Hot Springs, Arkansas. Film lovers from all over the country come to participate in our one-of-a-kind festival. With over 100 of the world's best documentary films screening, HSDFF continues to bring the best in documentary film to Arkansas along with free educational panels and workshops that provide unique opportunities for students and film lovers to grow in their craft and network with prominent figures in the documentary space.

Now approaching its 27th year as the oldest all-documentary festival in North America and one of the longest running non-fiction festivals in the world, the Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival remains a prominent champion and protector of the documentary film genre.

For additional information, please visit http://www.hsdfi.org or http://www.wrestlefilm.com/.

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