The "Arkansas Docs: More Than a Story" program offers a double feature of locally-produced documentaries: Gabe Gentry takes a look at the history and recipients of Arkansas's 25-year-old literary award with "Porter Prize," and Tim Wistrand, Terrell Case and Corey Gatlin team up to explore the blatant environmental abuses in the Ozark Highlands in "The Natural State of America" (3:20 p.m. Thu., 11 a.m. Sat., Riverdale).
"Arkansas Shorts 1: Slow Southern Drawl" skews and reframes the Southern Gothic tradition with four films: "Foot Soldier," from Jon Bryant Crawford, a Little Rock native currently working on an MFA from UCLA's film program; "A Christian Boy," from Mark Thiedeman, whose filmmaking history reaches back to his time at NYU; "Seven Souls," the afterlife thriller from local filmmaker Gerry Bruno and co-written by the Times' own David Koon, and "Ballerina," a tense black-and-white mood piece directed by Bryan Stafford and the second Koon-written script of the program (6:15 p.m. Fri., 4:40 p.m. Sat., Riverdale).
Comedy takes a turn in "Arkansas Shorts 2: Hijinks and Heart": Tyler Tarver's 2-minute hyper-short constructs a conversation by using only hip-hop noms de mic in "Rappers Delightful Conversation"; Kim Risi directs a quick one about a magician who can't do tricks in "Disillusioned"; Ben Aaron brings an eccentric dark comedy about two hillbilly best friends with "Sacred Ground"; an excommunicated court jester is banished to the woods in Scott Edge's "The Jester"; Collin Buchanan directs a cast that includes Natalie Canerday, Philip Martin, LRFF programmer Levi Agee and a guy who looks suspiciously like Conway School Board hopeful Dwight David Honeycutt in "Cotton County Boys," and Daniel Campbell, who won last year's Charles B. Pierce Award for Best Film Made in Arkansas, returns with the period road comedy "The Orderly" (8:15 p.m. Fri., 4 p.m. Sun., Riverdale).
"Arkansas Shorts 3: Run For Your Life!" makes room for emerging horror filmmakers with a four-flick line-up: Morals in the time of zombie outbreak gets the celluloid treatment in Bruce Hutchinson's "Going to Hell" and Eric Deitz' "Never Stop Running"; director Allison Hogue revisits scary hitchhiker territory with "Hitchhiker," and, sporting what's probably the most gorgeously-filmed trailer for any short of this year's fest, "Pillow" is a sepia-tinted piece of Erskine Caldwell-style Dixie Gothic which earned brothers Josh and Miles Miller the Best Narrative Short award at this year's Oxford Film Festival and Best Cinematography at the Beverly Hills Film Festival (8:50 p.m. Thu., 2:30 p.m. Sat., Riverdale).
Full-length films with an Arkansas focus run throughout the festival as well. "Independent for Governor: An Idealist's Grueling Run" is Huixia Lu's look at local musician/environmental activist/political gadfly Rod Bryan's shaggy dog campaign for governor in 2006 (6 p.m. Thu., 11:15 a.m. Sun., Riverdale).
"Disfarmer," Martin Lavut's celebrated profile of the Heber Springs portrait photographer Mike Disfarmer makes its LRFF debut (4 p.m. Thu., 2 p.m. Fri., Riverdale).
Chris Terry, better known as C.T., front man of Southern sludge metal kings Rwake, debuts his long-awaited, even longer-in-the-making documentary on heavy metal in the Bible Belt with "Slow Southern Steel" (6:50 p.m. Sat., 1:50 p.m. Sun., Riverdale). See more on the film on page 24.
And, with the West Memphis 3 case back in the headlines, Joe Berlinger is set to screen his provocative, influential 1996 documentary "Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills" (1 p.m. Thu., Argenta Community Theater), followed later in the day by "The Media and the West Memphis 3" (4:15 p.m. Thu., Argenta Community Theater), a panel discussion with director Berlinger; WM3 authority and author of "Devil's Knot" Mara Leveritt; Damien Echols' wife, Lorri Davis, and co-founder of Arkansas Take Action, Capi Peck-Peterson. Times editor Lindsey Millar will moderate.