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WATCH: Arkansas Shorts expands to three-day event

by Lance Brownfield | January 3, 2023 at 4:03 a.m.
Jennifer Gerber, film program director for Low Key Arts, discusses expanding the Arkansas Shorts Film Festival to three days. - Photo by Lance Brownfield of The Sentinel-Record

The Arkansas Shorts Film Festival, a production of Low Key Arts, is back and longer than ever for 2023.

Starting as a one-night event all those years ago, the 16th annual festival has continued to grow, expanding to three days this year, Friday through Sunday, with 66 short films screening at the Historic Malco Theatre, 817 Central Ave.

The first block of short films kick off Friday at 4 p.m. with the awards ceremony concluding things Sunday at 6 p.m. There will also be two after-parties Friday night at the Bathhouse Soapery & Caldarium, 366 Central Ave., and Saturday night at SQZBX Brewery & Pizza, 236 Ouachita Ave.

"I would say one of the highlights of Arkansas Shorts is that we highlight the premiers of the Inception to Projection films that are made in our program," Jennifer Gerber, film program director for Low Key Arts, said.

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The festival will feature three categories: Films made in Arkansas, in North America and internationally. Many of the Arkansas-made films came from Low Key Arts' Inception to Projection Filmmaking Program, which teaches all the skills for students to make their own short films. At the conclusion of the class, students screen their film at Arkansas Shorts.

Inception to Projection films in the lineup include "Death of a Library Book," "Esme" and "The Future of Couples Therapy." In August, Low Key Arts opened a year-round studio at 620 Central Ave., allowing the group to produce more films than ever. This year, for example, the program helped create 28 short films as opposed to eight to 10 in other years.

"These films are really high quality," Gerber said. "They're all made right here in Hot Springs, they're featuring some of our best attractions and locations and talent."

Another star attraction is a Filmmaker Spotlight with actor, director and writer Joey Lauren Adams, who has seen major Hollywood success starring in hits like "Big Daddy," "Dazed and Confused" and "Mallrats."

A North Little Rock native, she decided to shoot her directorial debut, "Come Early Morning," in Little Rock. The film was released in 2006 and selected for the Sundance Film Festival. That same year she won the Women in Film Dorothy Arzner Directors Award along with Lian Lunson and Nicole Holofcener.

Her most recent work, "Betrayed by My Bridesmaid," was shot entirely in Hot Springs earlier this year and is available for viewing as a Lifetime Movie Club exclusive.

"We're so fortunate to have Joey Lauren Adams as a resident here in Hot Springs," Gerber said. "I just wanted to host a conversation for her to share about her process, her career and her journey as a filmmaker and as an actress."

With 28 Inception to Projection films screening, the Filmmaker Spotlight and after-parties, the festival had to be lengthened because two days was just too ... short.

There are many ways to enjoy this event with several ticket options available. The weekend all-access pass gets the holder into all nine film blocks, both after-parties and all the other extras for the price of $65. Day passes vary by day, $25 for Friday, $35 for Saturday and $15 for Sunday while watching a single block of short film costs only $10.

For more information about Arkansas Shorts, Inception to Projection Filmmaking Program or Low Key Arts, visit

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