Festival returns from hiatus with regional and national features and short films


The El Dorado Film Festival (EDFF) has announced its 2024 line-up for this year’s event taking place on Feb. 8-11, 2024, at the South Arkansas Arts Center (SAAC), located at 110 East 5th St. in El Dorado, Arkansas. This year’s festival includes films starring Jon Heder (Napoleon Dynamite), Billy Zane (Titanic) and Anthony Rapp (RENT). Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased online or at the SAAC box office.

“The El Dorado Film Festival has spawned so many great conversations, collaborations and relationships in previous iterations,” said Executive Director Alexander Jeffery. “We are thrilled to bring this event back to South Arkansas after a three-year hiatus. What’s wonderful about these films is they are all created by truly independent filmmakers who had to get incredibly creative to get their work made and seen. No big studios, no big theatrical releases, you as the audience get to discover these gems and help the filmmakers spread the word about their achievement.”

The 2024 El Dorado Film Festival line-up includes:

The Special Presentation Feature Film, Tapawingo, directed by Dylan K Narang, starring Jon Heder (Napoleon Dynamite), Billy Zane (Titanic), and Gina Gershon (Brooklyn Nine-Nine). The film is the story of an oddball who becomes the bodyguard for a misfit teenager and finds himself in the crosshairs of the town’s family of bullies.

The Arkansas Premiere of Shudderbugs, directed by Johanna Putnam. In the film, a woman unravels in the wake of her mother’s mysterious death, following her suspicions to dangerous ends. Shudderbugs has been widely recognized across the film festival circuit with over 16 awards and nominations.

Feature Film Scrap, directed by Vivian Kerr. EDFF originally screened the short film of Scrap in 2019 and now Kerr is back with the feature film. Directed by Kerr, Scrap stars Anthony Rapp from the Broadway sensation RENT.

EDFF is also connecting with filmmakers south of the state line with a block of seven films from the Louisiana Film Prize Founders Circle. These films are: “The Candy Lady” (winner), “The Capitalist,” “Clownfish” (directed by Smackover native Clayton Henderson), “Caught on Tape” (co-directed by Alexander Jeffery), “Dead Flesh,” “Off-Sides” and “Pink Suit, Black Suit.”

Tamra Corley Davis, chair of the film committee, believes a cross-borders partnership is a fantastic way to grow the film industry regionally. “Beyond being excited to be a part of bringing back the EDFF, I am proud that we are able to partner with the Louisiana Film Prize to bring some of the 2023 award winning Prize films,” she said. “Over the years I have realized the film community is really small like a family. And no doubt over the weekend in February at the EDFF, new friendships will be made and collaborations formed that you will see for years to come at future festivals like ours and the Prize.”

Several Arkansas made or connected films will screen during EDFF. They include:

  • “Criterion” by Jeremy Enis
  • “Pretty Canoe” by Nicholas Holland
  • “The Book Club” by Jonnie Brannon
  • “Banana Triangle Six” by Marc E Crandall
  • “Mama Love” by Mary McDade
  • “Arkansas Maternal Health” by Ringo Jones
  • “How Do I Tell You This” by Lara Hill
  • “The Hill We Climb” by Raeden Greer
  • New West by Jordan Mears

EDFF also features national and international films such as: “Break,” “Wheel,” “Beer Club,” “Smoke,” “Credit,” “They Grow Up So Fast,” “Purgy’s,” “Music for a While,” “Florence in Customer Care,” “Outpost,” “The Last Thing Lost,” “The Bathtub” (Spain) and “Chairs”  (United Kingdom).

Cash awards are given to the winners in the categories of: Best of Fest ($1,500), Pam Callaway Spirit of the Festival Award ($1,000), Best Narrative Feature ($500), Best Documentary ($500), Best Short Drama ($500), Best Short Comedy ($500), Best Film With Arkansas Ties ($500) and Road to El Dorado Best International Film ($500).

Established in 2014, the El Dorado Film Festival returns after a hiatus to offer a curated selection of independent cinema to audiences in El Dorado—a small town with a unique history in the arts. EDFF has brought filmmakers together and, in turn, created opportunities for those filmmakers to grow together. Look for narrative and documentary features along with short films from around the world. Past guests have included actor/director Joey Lauren Adams (Come Early Morning, Big Daddy) and producer Kristin Mann (What Happens Later, To the Stars). 

SAAC is a complete visual and performing arts center that includes three gallery spaces, a ballet studio, a 207 seat theatre, a scene and costume shop, classrooms, a photography studio, and offices all of which provide AIE residencies, monthly gallery exhibits, community theatre productions, classes in visual arts, ballet, photography, drama, and music for people of all ages and people with special needs.

Featured image:  Tapawingo, starring John Heder, Billy Zane and Gina Gershon