The oldest documentary film festival in the United States almost didn't happen this year in Hot Springs.
But as KARK 4's Jonathan Athens tells us, some found a way to make sure the curtains didn't close for good on the Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival.
Executive Director Courtney Pledger says, "As the people and the town come out for this, it has a warmth."
The event is being held at the Arlington Hotel this time around. That's because the Malco Theatre -- the festival's usual venue -- was damaged by a storm in August. Before that, Arvest Bank had filed a foreclosure suit on the theater.
Making matters worse, the festival board owes $20,000 in local taxes. But, the festival is bouncing back in style.
North Carolina filmmaker Sam Smartt is enjoying the world premiere of his documentary.
He says, "I made a film called Wagon Masters, and it is a cultural history of the station wagon in America. Sort of looks at this iconic vehicle of the of the American Dream."
Smartt loves making movies as much as he enjoys watching them. Even still, there's a special magic when it comes to producing and directing a film.
He adds, "There's really nothing that delivers that kick for a filmmaker more than an appreciative audience."
And while times are tough for the old theater, the folks who put on the festival say the show must go on.
"Oh, it feels great. It feels good -- I can't tell you."
And that is something Sam Smartt is counting on.
The festival board convinced the bank to drop its foreclosure suit. The festival runs through October 21.