The Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival Announces Changes in Leadership

Jennifer Gerber

 

The Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival announced changes in leadership, adding Greta Hagen-Richardson, a rising star in the film festival community as the new Director of Programming, as HSDFF begins preparations for the 30th Anniversary edition of the critically acclaimed film festival this fall (October 8-16).

The busy Hagen-Richardson’s new position at HSDFF will be added to her role as the Lead Features Programmer at the New Orleans Film Festival. She will replace Jessie Fairbanks, who was recently named as the Director of Programming at the San Francisco International Film Festival. “I am honored to join the excellent team at HSDFF. It is an incredibly special community,” said Hagen-Richardson. “It has long been one of the key documentary regional film festivals in the eyes of filmmakers, industry veterans, and journalists, and the prospect of helping steer the organization to even greater heights in its fourth decade is beyond exciting.”

Artistic Director Jennifer Gerber adds the title of Executive Director, following the recent departure of Karina Negin, who stepped away to focus on her responsibilities at Bridging Voice, a non profit based in New York. Gerber, a Hot Springs native, is no stranger to the ED position at HSDFF, a role she held with the film festival for the three years prior to Negin’s arrival, and is eager to refocus the festival’s commitment to recognizing and supporting emerging documentary filmmakers.

Gerber commented, “We could not be more delighted to add Greta to our team. She has quickly made a mark through her work at a number of prominent film festivals with a reputation for unearthing new voices and championing inclusion. We look forward to her bringing that curatorial vision to Hot Springs. Despite the challenges brought about by the pandemic last year, the Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival continued growing in reach, impact, and innovation. As we approach our 30th Anniversary, HSDFF will both celebrate what we have achieved over three decades as well as look forward to a new chapter with a clearer focus on our mission to support the community in Arkansas and beyond while celebrating the power of non-fiction storytelling.”

In addition to her work with the New Orleans Film Festival, Hagen-Richardson is a Programmer and Producer with a decade of experience in the industry. In 2020, she participated in Film Independent’s Project Involve as a Creative Executive Fellow. While in Project Involve, she was the CE on two shorts, Hollow and Blackout, both developed and completed during the pandemic. Additional film festivals Hagen-Richardson has contributed to include the Chicago International Film Festival, True/False Film Festival, and the Telluride Film Festival.

A native of Arkansas, Gerber built her film career in Chicago before completing an MFA in writing and directing from Columbia University in New York. She released her debut feature film The Revival with a theatrical run in Los Angeles and has digital distribution on all the major outlets. Jen taught film at the university level for many years and spent four years as a tenured track professor at the University of Central Arkansas. In addition to university teaching, she was the Creative Director at The School of Creative and Performing Arts in Los Angeles & New York for 6 years.

HSDFF will be building on the success of last year’s festival which included an impressive line-up of films, talks, workshops, and private industry events. Special guests included representatives from Motto Pictures, Kartemquin Films, Gigantic Pictures, The Film Collaborative, Kino Lorber, Chicken & Egg Pictures, Participant Media, and the International Documentary Association. Festival honorees included Alex Gibney, Dawn Porter, Iyabo Boyd, and Diane Quon, with workshops led by Kirsten Johnson, Gordon Quinn, and Mark Monroe to name a few. “HSDFF is a discovery festival constantly on the lookout for emerging Southern filmmakers,” said Hagen-Richardson. “There is an immense amount of untapped talent in the region. As we begin the programming process, we are looking for films that exhibit a commitment to authentic, personal storytelling.”

Taking place in October, HSDFF plans to host safe, in-person events along with the virtual presentations, as the film festival sees a hopeful opportunity to welcome the community back together for their 30th anniversary celebration. “After our shared experiences of isolation and social unrest from the past year, we’re exploring what connection means as we move forward, said Gerber. “With the health and safety of our attendees first and foremost at the heart of our plans, this year’s festival will be grounded by questions about how we can best serve filmmakers and cultivate community, while sharing impactful stories to inspire and challenge audiences.”

The Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival is currently open for submissions on Film Freeway with the regular deadline of April 1, 2021. For more information on the Hot Springs Documentary Film festival, please visit: hsdfi.org.

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