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2018 fall Arkansas film preview

Film offerings come into focus.

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SPREADING THE GOSPEL: Michael Palmieri and Donal Mosher's "Gospel of Eureka," followed by a live drag performance, is on the schedule for the 27th annual Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival.
  • SPREADING THE GOSPEL: Michael Palmieri and Donal Mosher's "Gospel of Eureka," followed by a live drag performance, is on the schedule for the 27th annual Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival.

The Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival, the crown jewel and elder statesman of our state's film festival circuit, returns to the Spa City Oct. 19-27 for nine days of features, shorts, episodic content and nonfiction virtual reality experiences. This marks the 27th year for America's oldest documentary film festival, and next month's installment is coming off the heels of last year's record-breaking attendance numbers for what was arguably the strongest lineup of films and guests in the festival's history.

Opening the festival this year is "Hillbilly," a personal and political look into the gap between media depiction of the Appalachians and real life. The centerpiece film this year is "The Gospel of Eureka," the buzzed-about documentary exploring the clash between LGBTQ and evangelical cultures in Eureka Springs. "Daughters of the Sexual Revolution: The Untold Stories of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders" closes the fest. General admission tickets are $12 a pop, day passes will run you $30, and three-day opening and closing passes are $120 each. For $225, the Film Buff Pass offers admission to all regular films during the festival, but the $400 All-Access Pass is the definitive way to go, with priority admission to screenings, awards ceremonies, the legendary HSDFF parties and a place to catch your breath in those cushy filmmaker and special guest lounges. For information on this year's screenings, passes and volunteer opportunities, go to hsdfi.org

If your tastes run more toward the sanguinary, Garland County still has you covered with the Hot Springs International Horror Film Festival, which raises the curtain Sept. 20 for a four-day run. It will feature 40 bloody, binge-ready films. R.A. Mihailoff, paranormal investigator, former professional wrestler and one of the honored few to slide into the Leatherface mask, leads a motorcycle ride from Rodney's Cycle House in Little Rock to Central Avenue for a private screening of his new biker flick, "Ride Hard Live Free." The immediately recognizable Michael Berryman ("One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest," "The Hills Have Eyes," and the 1991 video store classic "The Guyver") will attend his new film, "The Evil Within." Single tickets are $11, day passes are $20, four-day passes are $40. The VIP pass for all films and seminars is priced right at $95. 

If you find yourself in Northwest Arkansas that same weekend, slide into the Fayetteville Film Festival. From Sept. 20-22, FFF offers local and international shorts, experimental film, documentaries, virtual reality, block parties and after-parties — the whole shooting match — all on the Fayetteville square. Highlights include "All Square," starring Emmy-nominated Michael Kelly ("House of Cards") as a bookie running numbers on Little League games; "Wild Nights With Emily," featuring Molly Shannon ("Saturday Night Live") as — yes, you're reading this right and, yes, it is awesome — Emily Dickinson; "Fail State," an expose on the rise of for-profit colleges; 2018 SXSW Grand Jury Prize winner "Thunder Road"; and, happily for those who missed the sold-out Arkansas Cinema Society screening of the LR-made "Antiquities," it screens Friday night.

Little Rock's repertory film screenings seem to get more reliable by the year, too. Crush Wine Bar in Argenta now hosts a monthly series by the Film Society of Little Rock: Mel Brooks' "History of the World Part I" screens at 8 p.m. Sept. 13, and 1986's "Aliens," the sequel to James Cameron's 1979 high-water mark in sci-fi horror/thriller/action, comes to its back deck on Oct. 11. 

This newspaper's own monthly film series, programmed by "No Small Talk" podcast co-host Omaya Jones, keeps on rolling at the Riverdale 10. This month features Bob Fosse's spectacular 1979 film "All That Jazz" on Tuesday, Sept. 18. The venue also hosts radio-head Dave Elswick's long-running series: Oct. 9 is your chance to see "The Exorcist" on the big screen. Diamond Bear Brewery, now in the movie programming game, takes to the same theater for John Hughes' best movie (don't @ me), "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" on Oct. 23. 

And, as ever, keep your eyes open for announcements from the Arkansas Cinema Society. There are no officially announced ACS events for the fall just yet, but, we're told lots of exciting things are in the works. When it announces it, you know we'll run it — so stay tuned to the Rock Candy blog, check arkansascinemasociety.org, and follow the ACS Facebook page to find out what Little Rock's next hot film ticket will be. 

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