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If there is one theme that emerges from this year's Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival, it's that all of the movies reveal hidden joys or hidden consequences of seemingly familiar subjects. For example, the opening night film Flannery not only recounts Flannery O'Connor's influential stories, but it also probes how her Catholicism and her health problems influenced those tales. These traits might not be obvious because most of her characters were Protestant.

Making Waves: The Art of Cinematic Sound

Sunday and Monday

Because sound and images have been married in cinema since 1927's The Jazz Singer, it's unfortunately easy to take the audio experiences in movies for granted. All the President's Men wouldn't have been so tense without the screeching brakes in the parking garage. Director Midge Costin recounts how sound designers gave Chewbacca his distinctive roar and how the Omaha Beach scenes in Saving Private Ryan became even more harrowing with the appropriate battlefield sounds. Costin herself has been a sound editor on Broken Arrow, Crimson Tide and Hocus Pocus, and she also coaxes directors George Lucas, David Lynch and Barbra Streisand to talk about sound in their own movies. Costin will be on hand for a Q&A.

For Sama


For five years, Waad Al-Khateab has documented the horrors of the Syrian civil war that have occurred in her hometown of Aleppo. Much of the film follows those who have remained in the city and work at a local hospital. She frames the story around meeting her husband, Hamza and giving birth -- and treats the film as if it's a visual letter to her daughter. For her efforts, she received a Golden Eye award for Best Documentary at the Cannes Film Festival. Al-Khateab and her husband are scheduled to attend the screenings.

One Child Nation


Nanfu Wang, who shares directing credit with Zhang Lynn, grew up in rural China and examines the troubling consequences of the nation's now-abandoned "one child policy." Her film recounts the disturbing propaganda that was used to sell the idea and the sometimes draconian measures used to enforce it. Wang, who now lives in the States, made the film while taking care of her infant son. She also documents how the policy affected her own family history and how international adoption policies will continue to shape China's policies for the years to come. Wang and Lynn received the Grand Jury Prize at this year's Sundance Film Festival, and Wang will be on hand for the screening.

Mystify: Michael Hutchence

Oct. 25

Director Richard Lowenstein examines the short life of INXS lead singer Michael Hutchence who achieved international fame with tunes like "Never Tear Us Apart," "Need You Tonight" and "Devil Inside." Despite all the Australian vocalist had achieved, the vocalist killed himself after drinking and using drugs. The film debunks the notion that he died of auto-erotic asphyxiation and includes previously unseen footage of the performer at home and onstage. It has interviews with former girlfriend and fellow musician Kylie Minogue and details that fans might not know. Lowenstein was a friend of Hutchence and shot 15 of their music videos.

Raise Hell: The Life & Times of Molly Ivins


Molly Ivins may have been the only political columnist who made references to chicken plucking in her pieces. The Texas-raised and based columnist combined thorough investigations with a lacerating wit. Janice Engel's documentary follows her colorful career and examines how the phrase "Molly Ivins Can't Say That, Can She?" actually became a selling point for her articles.

We Believe in Dinosaurs


Directors Clayton Brown and Monica Long Ross follow a group of evangelical creationists as they seek to disprove evolution by building a scale theme park version of Noah's Ark in Williamsburg, Ky. Others in the region aren't happy with their efforts. Long Ross and filmmaker Amy Ellison will be on hand for the Q&A.

MovieStyle on 10/18/2019

Print Headline: Finding sublime in the mundane

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