Upon entering the Historic Malco Theatre on Friday evening, the smell of popcorn, sound of champagne bottles popping and excited chatter washed over you. Some film lovers have waited all year for the Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival, and some filmmakers have waited a lifetime.
In an event marking the start of the momentous festival in its 30th Annual Celebration, the traditional Champaign and Popcorn Toast held in The Malco stamped excitement and anticipation on the next eight days to come.
After the toast, the party moved to the Convention Center's Horner Hall. There were speeches from festival board members, sponsors, the mayor and even comedian Tig Notaro, who made a surprise appearance. Afterward the screening of Citizen Ashe was shown, a film following the legacy of the highly accomplished American tennis player Arthur Ashe. The night concluded with a block party held on Bridge Street.
It was an eventful night full of cheer, fun and thankfulness to once again gather for the film festival after the COVID-19 pandemic prevented many traditional festival events from happening last year*.
But last night was just the beginning.
There are 85 films to be shown, and a whole lot of parties in between, from now through Oct. 16, throughout the downtown area. View the full schedule, here. Purchase passes or single-film tickets, here. For additional details and film recommendations, check out this article previously published by The Post.
The festival will also include the return of the wellness series that started last year. It is free and open to the public. The schedule is as follows:
• At 2 p.m. Oct. 9 at the Hot Springs Bicycle Touring Company, 436 Broadway St., there will be a meet up for a bike parade taking a spring water tasting tour.
• At 9:30 a.m. Oct. 10 at The Arlington Resort and Hotel's Crystal Ballroom, there will be a meet up for an inspirational hike.
• At 10 a.m. Oct. 16 on The Arlington rooftop** there will be yoga.
To attend the festival you must show either proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test taken within the past 48 hours. Masks will be required at all indoor venues. For special events that involve eating or drinking, outdoor access will be available.
*The festival was held in a socially distant drive-in setting in 2020.
**"Rooftop" was changed from "Lawn."