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Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival

Film synopses for films opening Oct. 22-27.


We’ll publish capsules on films opening Oct. 28 and later next week. 49? — Celebrated poet and filmmaker Sherman Alexie queries the residents of Seattle on the origins of the Indian 49. (5 minutes.) Oct. 25, 1:50 p.m.; Oct. 28, 6:35 p.m. Albert Alcalay: Self Portraits — Allen Moore and Rob Tranchin document the life of Albert Alcalay, a Serbian Jew who was hunted in fascist Italy and sent to a concentration camp, then emigrated to the U.S. after World War II. (56 minutes.) Oct. 25, 10:00 a.m.; Oct. 30, 1:35 (with filmmaker). Alone Across Australia — Jon Muir and his dog Seraphine live off the land in a 2,500-kilometer odyssey crossing Australia from the south to the north coast. (52 minutes.) Oct. 23, 2:00 p.m.; Oct. 27, 1:30 p.m. America’s Heart and Soul — Louis Schwartzberg captures the beauty and spirit of America in a cross-country trip. (84 minutes.) Oct. 22, 7:00 p.m. (filmmaker and panel); Oct. 31, 1:55 p.m. Arctic Crime and Punishment — A look at two violent crimes in a tiny fishing village in northern Greenland. (60 minutes.) Oct. 24, 10:05 a.m. The Arkansas Rockefeller — The story of Winthrop Rockefeller, the millionaire who came to Arkansas in 1953 and became governor. (57 minutes.) Oct. 23, 4:15 p.m. (filmmaker); Oct. 27, 12:00 p.m. (filmmaker). Asylum — A young Ghanian woman’s life changes when her father insists that she undergo a bloody, life-threatening circumcision and then marry an old man. Academy nominated short. (20 minutes.) Oct. 26, 4:35 p.m.; Oct. 30, 6:40 p.m. Balseros — Interviews in 1994 with seven Cuban families before they make a risky trip to the U.S. on homemade rafts. Academy nominated feature. (120 minutes.) Oct. 24, 3:15 p.m.; Oct. 28, 1:25 p.m. Bass Man — A world premiere look at the wildly popular and bizarre world of professional bass fishing. (88 minutes.) Oct. 24, 3:00 p.m. (filmmaker); Oct. 28, 8:00 p.m. (filmmaker). Big Enough — A return look at a topic that this filmmaker, Jan Krawtiz, worked with in 1981/1982: "dwarfs, a.k.a. Little People." (53 minutes.) Oct. 25, 10:05 a.m.; Oct. 29, 3:00 p.m. (filmmaker). Birdy, Diary of a Hummingbird Nest — Birdy spies on an Anna’s hummingbird for seven weeks, from nest building to fledging bird. (25 minutes.) World premiere Oct. 24, 11:35 a.m.; Oct. 28, 7:00 p.m. (filmmaker). Bluegrass Journey — Ruth Oxenberg’s and Rob Schumer’s portrait of the contemporary bluegrass music scene. (86 minutes.) Oct. 23, 7:40 p.m. (filmmaker); Oct. 26, 10:00 a.m. Born Into Brothels — The most stigmatized people in Calcutta’s red light district are not the prostitutes, but their children. (85 minutes.) Oct. 25, 8:25 p.m. (filmmaker); Oct. 30, 1:50 p.m. (filmmaker). Capturing the Friedmans — A seemingly normal suburban family includes a father and son indicted for sexual abuse of children. Academy nominated feature. (107 minutes.) Oct. 27, 4:10 p.m. Chavez Ravine: A Los Angeles Story — Celebration of the Mexican-American neighborhoods razed to make room for Dodger Stadium. Narrated by Cheech Marin, with music by Ry Cooder. (26:45 minutes.) Oct. 27, 10:50 a.m.; Oct. 30, 7:05 p.m. Chernobyl Heart — The Academy Award-winning short about the effects of radiation on the children of Belarus, 16 years after the accident at the nuclear reactor at Chernobyl. (39 minutes.) Oct. 24, 1:35 p.m.; and Oct. 27, 1:55 p.m. The Children of Leningradsky — The camera is in the Moscow subway, which teems with young and homeless children. (35 minutes.) World premiere Oct. 25, 4:00 p.m. (filmmaker); Oct. 27, 1:55p.m. (filmmaker). Coming to Say Goodbye: Stories of AIDS in Africa — A narrative on several AIDS victims in Africa. (30 minutes.) Oct. 23, 10:00 a.m.; Oct. 26, 2:45 p.m. Control Room — A misconception-shattering look at the Al Jazeera Arabic TV news operation. (83 minutes.) Oct. 24, 5:30 p.m.; Oct. 29, 6:35 p.m. The Corporation — A film version of the book, "The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power." (145 minutes.) Oct. 25, 6:45 p.m. Desperate Man Blues — How the musical culture was changed by the invention of sound recording. (56 minutes.) Oct. 24, 2:20 p.m.; Oct. 26, 8:55 p.m. Dirty Work — Dirty Work introduces a "reproductive physiologist" who collects bull semen for agricultural uses, a lifelong septic-tank pumper, and a "restorative artist" who prepares corpses for funerals. (58 minutes.) Oct. 23, 3:15 p.m.; Oct. 27, 7:25 p.m. Edmund’s Island — Mark Freeman’s film about a homeless man who sells and gives newspapers daily to motorists caught at "his" traffic light, and the people who give him money, food, clothes, books, etc. (12 minutes.) Oct. 23, 11:50 a.m. (filmmaker); Oct. 29, 4:30 p.m. Eroica! — Alan Miller’s documentary about youth, talent and incredible music features the Grammy award-nominated Eroica Trio and composer Kevin Kaska. (55 minutes.) Oct. 23, 1:20 p.m. (filmmaker); Oct. 27, 6:20 p.m. Family Portrait — Gordon Parks’ photographs of the Fontanelle family, published by Life Magazine in 1968, only told part of the story of this poor black family living in Harlem. (27 minutes.) Oct. 24, 11:25 a.m.; Oct. 29, 9:00 a.m. A Family Undertaking — Elizabeth Westrate explores the complex psychological, cultural, legal and financial issues surrounding the home funeral movement. (56 minutes.) Oct. 24, 10:00 a.m. (filmmaker); Oct. 28, 4:10 p.m. Ferry Tales — Every morning a group of women spends 30 minutes gathered around the mirrors in the powder room of the Staten Island Ferry. Academy nominated short by Katja Esson. (40 minutes.) Oct. 26, 8:20 p.m.; Oct. 30, 3:55 p.m. (filmmaker). The Fog of War — A provocative documentary on former Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara. Academy Award winning feature. (107 minutes.) Oct. 23, 5:25 p.m.; Oct. 30, 9:25 p.m. Foo-Foo Dust — Explores the bond between Stephanie, a 52-year-old crack-addicted Cal-Berkeley graduate, and Tony, her 22-year-old junkie son. (37 minutes.) Oct. 27, 5:20 p.m.; Oct. 30, 3:05 p.m. Foxhole — The love story of two men who met in the military during Vietnam. (12 minutes.) Oct, 25, 1:50 p.m.; Oct. 28, 6:35 p.m. Gus — Daniel Bowers’ film on a "living legend" of St. Louis, Gus Torregrossa, who was pushed from his shoe and clothing store by upscale residential development. (20 minutes.) Oct. 23, 11:50 a.m. (filmmaker); Oct. 29, 4:30 p.m. Heir to an Execution — A granddaughter of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg tries to answer the question of whether the Rosenbergs committed espionage, and what motivated them to leave their young sons. (99 minutes.) Oct. 26, 3:35 p.m.; Oct. 29, 1:00 p.m. High Hill — Young girls from a remote Turkish village, wearing their everyday garb — pot pajamas and rubber shoes — attract national attention as "the Pot Soccer Team." (130 minutes.) Oct. 25, 3:10 p.m. The Hot 8 — In New Orleans, the Hot 8 Brass Band — its members ranging in age from 11-23 — face resistance from older musicians. (32 minutes.) Oct. 25, 11:45 a.m.; Oct. 30, 11:20 p.m. (filmmaker). Howie Day — Greg Watermann offers a tour diary with Howie. (8 minutes.) World premiere Oct. 24, 1:15 p.m. (filmmaker); Oct. 26, 8:15p.m. (filmmaker). An Injury to One — Travis Wilkerson’s documentary tries to connect the murder of a union organizer and the town where he worked, Butte, Mont. (53 minutes.) Oct. 23, 12:00 p.m. (filmmaker); Oct. 26, 7:00 p.m. A Life of Death — This film poetically answers the question: What is the price of lasting peace? (8 minutes.) Oct. 24, 1:35 p.m.; Oct. 27, 10:05 a.m. Lift — When filmmaker Marc Isaacs decided to make a documentary about a lift in a London apartment building, he had no idea how the residents would react. (24 minutes.) Oct. 25, 1:50 p.m.; Oct. 28, 6:35 p.m. Living Arts — Julie Williams’ fast-paced exploration of performance art, with performances by Steve Liggett, Meredith Monk and others. (45 minutes.) Oct. 26, 3:20 p.m. (filmmaker). LSD, a Go Go — This short by Scott Calonico combines public domain scare films about drugs with a brief overview of the CIA’s study of mind-altering drugs. (10 minutes.) Oct. 23, 4:40 p.m. (filmmaker); Oct. 28, 10:05 a.m. (filmmaker). Marina — An Afghan film director encounters a fragile girl from the streets when looking for the lead role of his new film. (52 minutes.) Oct. 25, 11:15 a.m.; Oct. 28, 9:00 p.m. Mutzie’s Wedding — Mark Monroe’s short documentary about his grandmother’s second trip down the aisle after meeting a man in a retirement community. (24 minutes.) Oct. 23, 10:50 a.m.; Oct. 27, 7:35 p.m.; Oct. 31, 10:00 a.m. (filmmaker). My First War — Two filmmakers and a Desert Storm veteran try to make sense of what happened at a San Francisco war protest last year. (17 minutes.) Oct. 24, 1:35 p.m. (filmmaker); Oct. 27, 10:05 a.m. Negroes with Guns: Robert Williams and Black Power — Robert Williams advocated armed dissension as an acceptable means to bring about racial justice. (66 minutes.) Oct. 25, 2:35 p.m. and Oct. 28, 5:10 p.m. No. 17 — Filmmakers attempt to identify the one victim left unidentified when 17 people were killed in a suicide bomb attack on a bus just outside of Tel Aviv. (76 minutes.) Oct. 27, 2:40 p.m.; Oct. 30, 7:50 p.m. The Noodle Man — Tung Tak Chiu’s days are spent at the Hong Hop Noodle Co. right in the center of New York’s China Town. (7 minutes.) Oct. 23, 11:50 a.m.; Oct. 29, 4:30 p.m. Ocularist — A craftsman makes artificial eyes with an artist’s skill. (9 minutes.) Oct. 25, 1:50 p.m.; Oct. 28, 6:35 p.m. Off to War — Brent Renaud and Craig Renaud document an Arkansas National Guard unit deployed to Iraq. (90 minutes.) Oct. 27, 10:00 a.m. (filmmaker); Oct. 30, 11:35 a.m. (filmmaker and panel). One Strong Arm — Tiller Russell’s and Loren Mendell’s unforgettable portrait of Cody Wagner, who suffered a series of strokes that paralyzed half of his brain and body at 18 months. Sixteen years later, he finds the sport that will make him whole again — arm wrestling. (20 minutes.) Oct. 25, 10:05 a.m.; Oct. 30, 10:30 a.m. (filmmaker). A Place of Our Own — Stanley Nelson examines the history, significance, and changing landscape of an affluent African-American resort community on Martha’s Vineyard. (53 minutes.) Oct. 25, 5:10 p.m.; Oct. 29, 9:00 a.m. (filmmaker). Plagues and Pleasures on the Salton Sea — The Salton Sea was an environmental oddity in the midst of a harsh California desert, created by accident and reworked as a vacation destination. (86 minutes.) Oct. 25, 6:40 p.m. (filmmaker); Oct. 28, 12:45 p.m. Playing for Change — A musical journey that celebrates American street musicians. (70 minutes.) Oct. 25, 11:45 a.m.; Oct. 30, 11:20 p.m. (filmmaker). The Portrait of Billy Joe — The documentary illustrates how the 63-year-old country music singer/songwriter Billy Joe Shaver uses words and music to reflect his difficult experiences. (52 minutes.) Oct. 25, 9:25 p.m. The President Vs. David Hicks — A look at Australian David Hicks, kept in Guantanamo Bay for more than two years following his arrest in Afghanistan. Oct. 26, 5:10 p.m.; Oct. 30, 7:20 p.m. Queen of the Gypsies, a Portrait of Carmen Amaya — The Spanish "Gypsy" grew from abject poverty in her native Barcelona to film and Broadway stardom. (80 minutes.) Oct. 25, 1:00 p.m.; Oct. 28, 5:25 p.m. A Question of Freedom — Faced with a desperate choice, a young orphaned elephant makes an unexpected decision, reflecting the mounting tensions between elephants and people in crowded southern Africa. (42 minutes.) World premiere Oct. 24, 12:15 p.m.; Oct. 26, 10:05 a.m. (filmmaker). Radio Revolution: The Rise and Fall of the Big 8 — The most powerful force in the American music business in the 1960s, Windsor’s CKLW dominated the airwaves and turned the world on to Motown, soul and rock ’n’ roll. (70 minutes.) Oct. 25, 5:05 p.m.; Oct. 31, 2:00 p.m. (filmmaker). The Royal Academy — Follows one woman’s 40-year obsession with getting her work chosen for the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition. (60 minutes.) Oct. 27, 8:45 p.m.; Oct. 30, 10:00 a.m. (filmmaker). Running Madness —The Western States 100 was started in 1974 by the charismatically off-center Gordy Ainsleigh and has grown into the Indie 500 of the ultrarunner’s world. (75 minutes.) Oct. 26, 5:30 p.m.; Oct. 31, 12:05 a.m. (filmmaker). The Same River Twice — Cutting between images of friends and lovers on a 35-day river trip in 1978 and contemporary footage of their lives today. (78 minutes.) Oct. 23, 7:30 p.m.; Oct. 27, 12:15 p.m. Searching for the Wrong-Eyed Jesus — Jim White hits the road with a concrete Jesus statue bought from a wrecker’s junkyard. (86 minutes.) Oct 26, 1:35 p.m.; Oct. 29, 8:20 p.m. Sister Rose’s Passion — A portrait of Sister Rose Thering, a nun who has made the battle against anti-Semitism her life’s work. (37 minutes.) Oct. 27, 10:50 a.m.; Oct. 30, 5:10 p.m. (filmmaker). Slasher — Follows the man considered by many to be the world’s greatest living used car salesman. (90 minutes.) Oct. 23, 9:25 p.m.; Oct. 26,11:45 a.m. Something’s Brewin’ in Shiner — Mike Woolf’s humorous documentary about how Shiner’s newest beer was submitted for the approval of the entire town. (25 minutes.) Oct. 23, 11:50 a.m.; Oct. 29, 4:30p.m. (filmmaker). STRUT! — This celebrates the world of the Mummers and the Mummers Parade in Philadelphia. (68 minutes.) Oct. 23, 5:45 p.m. (filmmaker); Oct. 28, 3:45 p.m. SUV TAGGERS — Two young men spend their time placing embarrassing bumpers sticker on SUVs. (4:25 minutes.) Oct. 25, 1:50 p.m. and Oct. 28, 6:35 p.m. Taking Back the Future: Living with MS — Ken Mandel’s investigation with producer Dr. Richard Pellegrino of UAMS about the trials and triumphs of patients with multiple sclerosis. (50 minutes.) World premiere Oct. 23, 2:50 p.m. (filmmaker); Oct. 26, 1:15 p.m. (filmmaker). Tea Space — To honor a Paris museum responsible for the conservation of Japanese Buddhas, the reverend of a Zen monastery builds a special tea house. (27 minutes.) World premiere Oct. 26, 7:05 p.m. (filmmaker); Oct. 28, 12:20 p.m. (filmmaker). Texas Doughnut Shop — A Korean immigrant joins the doughnut shop owners of Dallas. (21 minutes.) Oct. 23, 11:50 a.m.; Oct. 29, 4:30 p.m. A Time for Burning — The white, middle-class Augustana Lutheran Church in Omaha in 1966 struggled to reach out to the black community in their city (58 minutes.) Oct. 29, 10:10 a.m. (filmmaker). Touching the Void — Disaster struck when Joe Simpson and Simon Yates set out in 1985 to climb the west face of the Siula Grande in the Peruvian Andes. (106 minutes.) Oct. 24, 5:00 p.m. and Oct. 29, 11:00 a.m. Tulia, Texas: Scenes From the Drug War — Emily and Sarah Kunstler’s story of a drug bust in a small town that imprisoned more than 10 percent of the black community. (26 minutes.) Oct. 27, 5:20 p.m. (filmmakers); Oct. 30, 3:05 p.m. (filmmakers). Valley of Tears — A documentary based on the 20-year fight between Mexican-American farm workers and onion farmers in South Texas. (77 minutes.) Oct. 26, 11:35 a.m.; Oct. 31, 10:05 a.m. We Are PHAMALy — A portrait of three cast members of Denver’s Physically Handicapped Amateur Musical Actors’ League (PHAMAL). (19 minutes.) Oct. 25, 12:25 p.m. and Oct. 30, 6:25 p.m. (with cast member). The Weather Underground — Thirty years after its infamous terror spree, a thin veil of secrecy remains around the bomb-setting offshoot of the Weathermen. Academy nominated feature. (93 minutes.) Oct. 23, 10:05 a.m. Wet Dreams and False Images — Dee-Dee the barber is a self-proclaimed "booty expert" who covers his wall with magazine cut-outs of women. (11 minutes.) Oct. 27, 5:20 p.m.; Oct. 30, 3:05 p.m. (filmmaker). With Beak and Claw — Three years of waiting, snooping, and shooting resulted in this extraordinary movie on birds’ secret lives in northeast Poland. (52 minutes.) Oct. 24, 11:35 p.m.; Oct. 28, 7:50 p.m. Word Wars — The lives of four of the top-rated Scrabble players in the country in pursuit of a $25,000 prize. (77 minutes.) Oct. 27, 3:45 p.m.; Oct. 30, 5:00 p.m. World Tour: The Fruits of Hegemony — How American culture and politics have permeated different societies around the globe. (4 minutes.) Oct. 25, 6:20 p.m.; Oct. 28, 10:00 a.m. Z Channel – A Magnificent Obsession — The rise and fall of L.A.’s first pay-cable station and its visionary but controversial programmer, Jerry Harvey. (120 minutes.) Oct. 23, 9:05 p.m.; Oct. 27, 8:15 p.m.

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