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‘Hillbilly,’ ‘Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders’ Set for Hot Springs Festival

The Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival has set “Hillbilly” as its opening film on Oct. 19 and “Daughters of the Sexual Revolution: The Untold Stories of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders” to close the festival, Variety has learned exclusively.

“Hillbilly,” directed by Ashley York and Sally Rubin, will open the 27th annual festival in Hot Springs, Ar. The festival touts itself as the longest-running all-documentary film festival in North America.

“In the aftermath of the 2016 election, there has been a palpable divide between urban and rural regions of the United States. As an established festival in the South, it is our aim to close this gap by exploring our southern identity as it relates to the current political climate,” said Jennifer Gerber, executive director.

“Hillbilly” examines the iconic hillbilly image in media and culture and explores more than 100 years of media representation of mountain and rural people. York, a liberal feminist living in Los Angeles, shot the film prior to the 2016 election in her home-town in Eastern Kentucky and confronted her own family’s opposing political beliefs.

“Our upcoming slate is proving to be our most provocative to date and ‘Hillbilly’ sets the tone for the difficult but necessary conversations we hope our screenings will inspire,” Gerber said. “We are proud to highlight films that are uniquely southern while simultaneously challenging the stereotypes that are often associated with this region.”

Dana Adam Shapiro’s “Daughters of the Sexual Revolution” will screen on Oct. 27. The movie is set in the wave of the 1970’s feminist movement, as the cheerleaders struggled to find their place as women with careers, higher education and families while being likened to porn stars and sex objects. The cheerleaders increased revenues by millions, yet were paid a salary of $15 per game and became a controversial pop culture phenomenon at the height of the sexual revolution.

The festival has also scheduled “Gospel of Eureka,” directed by Donal Mosher and Michael Palmieri as its centerpiece film. The film documents the Easter passion plays and drag performances in Eureka Springs, Ar.

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