Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Toronto, Sheffield – Hot Springs, Arkansas? When one thinks of big doc fests, the onetime playground of Al Capone – and Bill Clinton’s childhood home – doesn’t immediately spring to mind. Yet this historic spa town, containing 47 natural hot springs and Hot Springs National Park, the oldest federal reserve in the U.S., also hosts the country’s oldest doc fest. Now in its impressive 22nd year, the Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival exceeded my expectations and then some, its programmers bringing in high-quality nonfiction fare – not to mention topnotch filmmakers and colorful characters – that perfectly aligned with the city’s oddball Southern charm.
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