It was an honor to be the Keynote speaker and then unexpected recipient of Best Documentary Feature at the inaugural Hot Springs International Film Women’s Film Festival.  With all of the other festivals out there, it would seem a fool’s folly to want to start a festival, but the need and desire for such a festival was apparent in this history-filled little town.  So many classic genre films such as the gangster and baseball movies have scenes taken from the pages of Hot Springs history. The Central Theater is as much a museum of film history as it is a movie theater. Even on display across the street from the theater was the crane Hitchcock used in many of his films. It's a destination for a movie fan and thrill to feel connected to it all as a filmmaker.  As this festival grows in prominence, I hope it will retain the personal and intimate feel of someplace special.

Sandra Luckow

Professor of documentary and narrative film production at Yale University, School of Art, Barnard College, and Columbia University.

One of the most professional and carefully executed festivals.  I was  treated like Hollywood royalty.  The founder/director of festival Bill  Volland was so kind and treated everyone with exceptional southern  hospitality. Thank you HSIWFF for a memorable experience. I will definitely be submitting/attending next year!

Alicia Hayes


Karen and I really enjoyed our visit - and thought you did such a nice job of selecting films and were so kind.

We were very glad to attend - and thank you for the honor of this award.  

Best Regards, Becky Smith

Professor UCLA MFA directing program. Member of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. 

2018 Films

 Best Feature Film

Days of Power, "On their 2010 tour, an International Pop Star and band mates mysteriously disappear. As past and present merge, they find themselves searching for answers and fighting for more than just their own lives when a concealed industry is revealed, the film pulls back the curtain and sheds a light on the dirty and violent world of puppy mills. These facilities are compounds of moral decay within human nature and are a dog's equivalent to a concentration camp. A provocative and hard hitting film that melds fact and fiction in a way that these atrocities can be exposed to a larger audience.

01:41:00, Michel Grey, Jason Pagnoni, Alysia Reid

Best Short Film

Alfred J Hemlock, "When Emily’s, boyfriend abandons her in the night, her only way home is through an alleyway where she is terrorized by the mysterious entity Alfred J Hemlock"

00:15:00, Edward & Melissa Lyons, Lucas Newton, Robert Raymond"

Best Feature Documentary

That Way Madness Lies...,

"Duanne Luckow begins a scary, dangerous and ever-escalating cycle of arrests, incarcerations, mental institutional stays including Oregon State Hospital and with an inability to aid and assist in his own defense and releases to the streets without a plan. Until court ordered, he exercises his right to refuse treatment. HIPPA laws intended to protect his privacy, inadvertently cuts off his most ardent advocates from access to him, leaving him vulnerable to an overburdened system. Serendipitous events and coincidences gave documentary filmmaker, Sandra Luckow, access to intimate and illuminating footage because Duanne is her brother. With their cameras, they expose an ineffectual and inhuman system as well as themselves."

01:41:00, Sandra Luckow 

Best Short Documentary

LEFT ON PEARL, "In 1971 classified ads for employment were still segregated by gender, battered women's shelters did not exist, abortion was illegal, and married women couldn’t open a bank account without their husband’s permission. LEFT ON PEARL is about the movement that changed all that. This fast-paced 55 minute documentary focuses on a highly significant but little-known event in the history of the women's liberation movement, the 1971 takeover and occupation of a Harvard University-owned building by hundreds of Boston area women. The ten-day occupation of 888 Memorial Drive by women demanding a Women‚ Center and low income housing for the community in which the building stood, embodied within it many of the hopes and glories - as well as the conflicts and fault lines ‚ All of what came to be known as Second Wave feminism. One of the few takeovers by women for women, this radical action proved life-changing for the participants, and led directly to the founding of the longest continuously operating Women's Center in the U.S.

00:55:00, Susan Rivo

Best Director

August In Berlin, “The chance meeting of a German and a Canadian in a Berlin cafe unravels their carefully constructed lives.”

01:30:00, Becky Smith, Olivia Charamsa 

Best Actress

The Things They Left Behind, "Based on a Stephen King short story, "The Things They Left Behind" is a horror/love story set one year after 9/11. When World Trade Center worker Scott Staley survives 9/11 but his girlfriend Sonia D'Amico doesn't, her red glasses magically return to haunt him -- along with two other objects belonging to 9/11 colleagues. Scott's unrelenting attempts at getting rid of them don't work, and he ultimately must figure out what they want. he travels through a supernatural portal to the day of 9/11, to the office where he and Sonia worked together. He is reunited with the woman he loves."

00:30:00, Sara Werner, Duba Leibell, Missy Jenkins, Xinyue Chen

Audience Award

Melody Makers, An Award Winning Rock Documentary. People with a love of classic 60s and 70s rock' n roll will not want to miss this. In telling the history of England's most influential rock newspaper, and the people who wrote and shot photographs for it, director Leslie-Ann Coles has unearthed a veritable treasure-trove of rare photos and incredible first-hand tales of all of your favorite rock legends from that era from Keith Moon to Jimmy Hendrix to The Who and Cream and more

01:35:00 Leslie-Ann Coles, Richard Harnet, Mark Sanders