The 22nd annual Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival began last weekend and runs through this Sunday. A number of award winning filmmakers will be in attendance as well as sports celebrities like Jose Conseco.
In recent years the festival has been encumbered with debt but festival chair Susan Altrui said that’s been turned around this year.
“We are out of debt. This past year we were able to sell the Malco Theater which relieved us of about $400,000 worth of debt. We have paid down about another $50,000 worth of debt that was leftover when this board took over last year that was inherited. We are in a much better financial position right now than we were this time last year,” said Altrui.
Altrui said attendance has risen this year and the impact is being felt, “That’s great for Hot Springs because it means there’s a tremendous economic impact to that area. When you have more people coming for the festival it means more people are staying in hotels, eating at restaurants, and enjoying the area. That benefits the local economy greatly. It means there’s 10 days of people spending money in that area.”
Documentaries coupled with panel discussions and personal appearances are big draws, said Altrui. Former Beatles fan-club manager Freda Kelly and the retired baseball slugger Jose Conseco, who brought the use of steroids to the forefront of the sports world, are two notable guests at this year’s festivities.