Two famously familiar faces will serve as honorary co-chairmen of the Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival, set to open on Oct. 7 and screen about 120 films by Oct. 16.
Those faces belong to Louis Gossett Jr., winner of a supporting actor Oscar for An Officer and a Gentleman, and Beau Bridges, who has won three Emmys for his work in television.
The festival celebrates its 25th year. Having an honorary chairman is reminiscent of the festival's early days, said Courtney Pledger, the executive director. Past chairmen include actors James Earl Jones and James Whitmore.
Gossett and Bridges will attend opening night, according to a press release from the festival. Some other prominent names in the entertainment world confirmed for attendance include:
• Tempest Storm, a burlesque performer who is the subject of a documentary of the same name. Storm, 88, was a mistress to both Elvis Presley and John F. Kennedy, the festival press release said.
• Billy Hayes, who wrote Midnight Express about his experiences in a prison in Turkey. The book was adapted into a movie of the same name. A documentary of his return to Turkey is titled Midnight Return: The Story of Billy Hayes and Turkey.
• Todd Fisher, featured in Bright Lights: Starring Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher. He is the son of Reynolds and the brother of Carrie Fisher.
• Mike Edmonds, an actor who has appeared in Star Wars: Episode VI -- Return of the Jedi and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, among other films. A dwarf, Edmonds' life and career are described in Under the Radar: The Mike Edmonds Story.
• Barry Bostwick, one of the stars of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, will attend a late-night screening of the film.
• Ed Asner hosts the closing night, Oct. 15, with a screening of My Friend Ed, about his life and career.
The full lineup, along with links to passes and tickets, is at www.hsdfi.org.
This is Pledger's fifth festival. She took over as executive director after the organization fell into financial distress in 2011. Those problems, she said, "have been completely and totally resolved. The financial health of the organization is excellent."
Films will be shown at the Arlington Hotel, in the main ballroom, which seats about 500 and in another room that seats about 250, Pledger said. Last year's attendance, she estimated, was about 10,000.
This year? "It's hard to predict, but I feel a real buzz surrounding the 25th anniversary."
Opening the festival is the documentary Command and Control, whose director, Robert Kenner, will attend. The film chronicles an explosion at a Titan II missile silo in Damascus in 1980.
"It's a great, untold Arkansas story about Damascus," Pledger said, "a very near miss that could have been an explosion six times the size of Hiroshima."
Metro on 09/14/2016
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