In a press conference at the Ron Robinson Theater this morning, representatives from the Arkansas Film Office, the Arkansas Motion Picture Institute and the Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival announced that the festival has been named an Academy Award qualifier in the Documentary Shorts category. Susan Altrui, chair of the Hot Springs Documentary Film Institute board, pointed out that only “one percent of all film festivals in the world have this designation,” and emphasized the economic potential for Hot Springs. She, as well as Courtney Pledger of the AMPI, mentioned Sundance as an analogy, which strikes me as pretty far-fetched, but it is definitely an exciting step for the already well-regarded Festival.
Its qualifier status will go in effect in 2015, at which point any winner of the festival’s “Spa City Best Documentary Short” award will be eligible for Academy Award consideration. As Christopher Crane of the Arkansas Film Office noted, “The film industry in Arkansas is not only growing, it’s blossoming and beginning to produce fruit.” Later he returned to this metaphor: “You see the growth. You feel the growth.”