2019 Woodstock Film Festival Awards Recap

The 20th annual Maverick Awards Ceremony rounded out the 2019 Woodstock Film Festival at BSP Kingston this past Saturday on October 5. Filling the tables of the packed auditorium were filmmakers, members of the press, and many special guests.

From left: 2018 Maverick Award winner Julie Taymor and 2019 Honorary Trailblazer recipient Abigail Disney

From left: 2018 Maverick Award winner Julie Taymor and 2019 Honorary Trailblazer recipient Abigail Disney

Amongst the star-studded list of honorees was filmmaker and philanthropist Abigail E. Disney, who received the Festival’s Trailblazer Award for her staunch activism and work creating films centered around social justice. The award was presented to Disney by last year’s Maverick Award recipient Julie Taymor, who gave an impassioned speech honoring Disney’s efforts as a humanitarian and filmmaker. A full list of Maverick Award winners can be found below.

On Sunday night, our staff was hard at work tallying up all of the ballots for the Audience Awards. Surging to the top of the pack were crowd favorites Parkland Rising, which won the Audience Award for Best Documentary Feature, and John Swab’s first solo-directed film Run with the Hunted, which won the Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature. Both films struck a chord with festival-goers: the former following the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School as they build a national movement for gun reform, the latter a darkly gripping story about a young runaway who joins a band of street urchins.

Congratulations to all of our award-winners and nominees!

2019 Maverick Award Winners

BEST NARRATIVE FEATURE - SWALLOW, BY CARLO MIRABELLA-DAVIS WITH AN HONORABLE MENTION TO ONCE UPON A RIVER, DIRECTED BY HAROULA ROSE.

The jurors also gave special recognition to actors Haley Bennett for best female performance in Swallow and Tim Guinee for best male performance in Ash.

Jurors: Julie Taymor, David Dinerstein, Rebecca Miller, Alex Smith

Award sponsored by Gigantic Pictures


BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE - 17 BLOCKS, DIRECTED BY DAVY ROTHBART WITH HONORABLE MENTIONS TO MAXIMA, DIRECTED BY CLAUDIA SPARROW, AND ACCEPT THE CALL, DIRECTED BY EUNICE LAU.

Jurors: Joe Berlinger, Roger Ross Williams, Pamela Yates


BEST NARRATIVE SHORT - THE NEIGHBOR'S WINDOW, DIRECTED BY MARSHALL CURRY WITH AN HONORABLE MENTION TO TATTOO, DIRECTED BY FARHAD DELARAM.

Jurors: Karen Allen, Dan O'mara, Rita Taggart


BEST SHORT DOCUMENTARY - A SISTER'S HOPE, DIRECTED BY MICHAEL MARANTZ.

Jurors: Curry Marshall, Lacey Schwartz Delgado, Robert Stone

Award sponsored by Markertek.com


BEST STUDENT SHORT - MARRIAGE MATERIAL, THE MUSICAL!, DIRECTED BY ORAN ZEGMAN WITH AN HONORABLE MENTION TO MILLER & SON, DIRECTED BY ASHER JELINSKY

Jurors: Jane Applegate, Isil Bagdadi, Declan Baldwin


ULTRA INDIE AWARD - SENECA, DIRECTED BY JASON CHAET WITH AN HONORABLE MENTION TO TAWNY CYPRESS FOR HER PERFORMANCE AS "INEZ" IN INEZ & DOUG & KIRA.

Jurors: Jamin O'Brien, Harris Doran, Lori Singer

Award sponsored by Gray Schwartz LLP


ANIMATION AWARD - SWEET NIGHT BY LIA BERTELS AND HONORABLE MENTION GOES TO ANNA SAMO, LISA LABRACIO FOR THE OPPOSITES GAME.

Jurors: Lizzi Akana, Joy Buran, Noelle Buran


HASKELL WEXLER AWARD FOR BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY - ASH, DIRECTED BY ANDREW HUCULIAK, CINEMATOGRAPHY BY JOSEPH SCHWEERS.

Jurors: Ellen Kuras

Award sponsored by Panavision


JAMES LYONS EDITING AWARD FOR NARRATIVE FEATURE - DAREN NAVARRO AND TOM QUINN FOR COLEWELLHONORABLE MENTIONS FOR ALEX LORA AND FRANK DALE ARROYO FOR THE GARDEN LEFT BEHIND.

Jurors: Naomi Geraghty, Nick Houy, Kate Williams, Sabine Hoffman


JAMES LYONS EDITING AWARD FOR DOCUMENTARY FEATURE - JENNIFER TIEXIERA FOR 17 BLOCKS.

Jurors: Ian Olds, Toby Shimin, Sabine Hoffman


CARPE DIEM ANDRETTA AWARD - Youssef Delara for his film Foster Boy.

Award sponsored by the High Rocks Charitable Trust

World Premieres Bring Artists, Indigenous Leaders, Activists and More to Woodstock

Manuel Oliver works on his mural in the center of Woodstock.

Manuel Oliver works on his mural in the center of Woodstock.

The fourth day of the 20th annual Woodstock Film Festival was filled to the brim with exciting performances, world premiere screenings, and special events.

During the afternoon in the center of Woodstock, artist and activist Manuel Oliver installed a mural in memory of his late son Joaquin, who lost his life in the 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. To a hushed crowd of onlookers, survivors, and photographers, Oliver and his wife delivered a powerful speech about how their son’s tragic death continues to motivate their efforts about the perils of gun violence.

Casey Camp-Horniek (left) and Director Clement Guerra (right) during the Q&A for  The Condor and the Eagle.

Casey Camp-Horniek (left) and Director Clement Guerra (right) during the Q&A for The Condor and the Eagle.

Also in the afternoon, Sophie and Clement Guerra’s The Condor & the Eagle made its World Premiere. The screening was preceded by group prayer lead by Casey Camp-Horinek. The documentary follows four indigenous leaders from North and South America as they embark on a journey to fulfill an ancient prophecy and protest the global response to climate change.

(From left) Ellen Toland, Aaron Fisher, and Eric Roberts at the premiere of  Inside The Rain.

(From left) Ellen Toland, Aaron Fisher, and Eric Roberts at the premiere of Inside The Rain.

In the evening, writer-director Aaron Fisher’s Inside The Rain made its World Premiere. The film follows film student, Benjamin Glass (played by Aaron Fisher), a young man with ADHD, OCD, and other mental disorders as he seeks to prove his innocence to prevent his expulsion in this captivating romantic comedy. After the premiere, Aaron Fisher, executive producer Danny Fisher, cast members Ellen Toland, Eric Roberts, and Catherine Curtin stayed for a Q&A with the audience.

(From left) Jammal Lemmy, Sam Zeif, Cameron Kasky, Matt Deitsch, Manuel Oliver, Patricia Oliver, and Cheryl Horner speak following the world premiere of  Parkland Rising.

(From left) Jammal Lemmy, Sam Zeif, Cameron Kasky, Matt Deitsch, Manuel Oliver, Patricia Oliver, and Cheryl Horner speak following the world premiere of Parkland Rising.

Coming right after the Inside The Rain World Premiere was another shining debut, Parkland Rising. This heartbreaking, yet uplifting documentary follows the deadly February 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and the subsequent efforts of the survivors to advocate for stricter gun control laws. After the show, director/producer Cheryl Horner McDonough, producer/cinematographer Bill Richmond and a number of Parkland activists including Jammal Lemmy, Sam Zeif, Cameron Kasky, Matt Deitsch, Manuel and Patricia Oliver were there to field questions from the audience.

Billy Martin performing after the world premiere of  Not Not Jazz.

Billy Martin performing after the world premiere of Not Not Jazz.

Jason Miller’s Not Not Jazz also sold out its World Premiere last night. The documentary follows the avant-jazz-funk band, Medeski, Martin & Wood as they set out to record a new album at the famous Allaire Studio in upstate New York. The screening concluded with a solo drum performance by Billy Martin of Medeski, Martin & Wood.

Director Jeff Roda at the 2019 Woodstock Film Festival.

Director Jeff Roda at the 2019 Woodstock Film Festival.

Last, but certainly not least, Jeffrey Roda’s 18 to Party made its World Premiere to a sold-out crowd. The packed theater were the first to see the nostalgic coming-of-age story of a group of 8th graders hanging outside a small-town night club in 1984. Jeffrey Roda, producers Emily Ziff Griffin, Nikola Duravcevic, Andrew Cahill, and most of the cast were available for audience questions after the screening.

HONEYBOY Opens the 20th Annual Woodstock Film Festival

Honey Boy  producer Daniela Taplin (left) with Woodstock Film Festival co-founder and executive director Meira Blaustein (right)

Honey Boy producer Daniela Taplin (left) with Woodstock Film Festival co-founder and executive director Meira Blaustein (right)

Honey Boy a new film from award-winning filmmaker Alma Ha’rel starring Lucas Hedges and Shia LaBeouf, was the opening night film for the 20th annual Woodstock Film Festival. Audience members formed a long line outside the doors of the Woodstock Playhouse, braving cold temperatures and drizzling rain to come out for the screening.

Presenting the film was one of Honey Boy’s key producers, Daniela Taplin, who spoke at length about the movie’s origins as a screenplay written by LaBeouf to process his difficult upbringing and time in the limelight as a child actor in Hollywood. Turning his trauma into a tour-de-force performance, LaBeouf takes on the challenging role of playing his father, a wildly charismatic former rodeo clown managing his son’s fledgling acting career.

Missed last night’s screening? Honey Boy will also be showing tonight at the Rosendale Theatre. Get tickets here.

Kickoff Screening of SIMON SHAHEEN: A MUSICAL JOURNEY Closes with Standing Ovation

Firas Zreik (left) and Simon Shaheen (right) performing onstage at The Woodstock Playhouse

Firas Zreik (left) and Simon Shaheen (right) performing onstage at The Woodstock Playhouse

On October 2nd, the Woodstock Film Festival kicked off its 20th anniversary with the World Premiere of Tarik Benbrahim's Simon Shaheen: A Musical Journey, which was followed with a Q&A with the film's director and live performance by Shaheen with fellow musicians Tareq Rantisi and Firas Zreik.

During the Q&A session, Benbrahim gave insight into the power of music to act as a vehicle for social mobility, noting how Berklee School of Music, where Shaheen teaches, holds online auditions so that prospective students from all over the world have a chance to prove their talents.

(From left) Tareq Rantisi, Simon Shaheen, Meira Blaustein, Tarik Benbrahim and Firas Zreik at the event

(From left) Tareq Rantisi, Simon Shaheen, Meira Blaustein, Tarik Benbrahim and Firas Zreik at the event

Shaheen along with Rantisi on percussion and Zreik on Kanun were then invited onstage. Attendees were quickly swept off their feet by Shaheen’s deft mastery of the oud and violin, as he effortlessly blended elements of classical and Arabic music into an unforgettable musical showcase. Rantisi and Zreik were equally breathtaking, seamlessly exchanging solos and delighting attendees.

At the end of the show, the walls of the Playhouse rang with sound of plucking strings, laughter, and thunderous applause as audience members rose from their seats to give Shaheen a standing ovation.

Community Screening of THE APOLLO a Resounding Success

(From left) Woodstock Film Festival co-founder and executive director Meira Blaustein with Billy Mitchell and Lisa Cortes

(From left) Woodstock Film Festival co-founder and executive director Meira Blaustein with Billy Mitchell and Lisa Cortes

Last night, the Woodstock Film Festival hosted a free community screening of The Apollo, a new documentary from Academy-award winning filmmaker Roger Ross Williams about the legendary Harlem theater at Ulster Performing Arts Center in Kingston, co-hosted by Radio Kingston and the Bardavon 1869 Opera House.

Presenting the film to a packed house were Lisa Cortes, the film’s producer, and Apollo historian and tour director Billy Mitchell. During the intimate Q&A session that followed, Mitchell delighted audience members with several stories from his colorful decades-long career, which he began as a 15 year old errand boy for the theater.

During his tenure at the Apollo, Mitchell had the privilege of witnessing the Jackson Five, including a 9 year old Michael Jackson, perform at The Apollo’s weekly amateur night, having soul legend James Brown pore over his report cards to make sure he was still attending school, and give a personal tour to first lady Michelle Obama and her daughters.

The Apollo will be on HBO November 8th.

Looking Back on Our 20th Anniversary

Twenty years ago two starry-eyed filmmakers ventured upstate, intent on creating a festival where people from all over the world could gather at the foothills of the Catskill Mountains and unite in their shared passions for community and independent cinema. Two decades later, the Woodstock Film Festival continues its mission by showcasing the most cutting-edge works from the silver screen while serving as an incubator for upcoming talent and local filmmaking.

We live in a period of great uncertainty and unprecedented change, both for the medium of filmmaking and our planet itself. New communication technologies are disrupting industry gatekeepers, allowing creators to finance and deliver their films directly to their audiences without the need for a big studio or distributor. The advent of social media has created new opportunities for those with similar interests to both connect and segregate themselves from people they disagree with. Meanwhile, rising sea levels and extreme weather patterns are pushing anxieties about climate change to an all time high, to the chagrin of the public and scientists alike.

Fearlessly tapping into the current zeitgeist, the diversity of year’s lineup serves as an artistic response to these unstable times. From documentaries centered around gun control and environmental activism to films that engender empathy for those existing on society’s margins, the Festival’s programming remains committed to pushing the boundaries of creative expression and social norms. Like the iconic concert that shares our namesake, this year’s Festival includes an exciting slate of live performances across a multitude of genres, including but not limited to rock, jazz, Arabic, and even burlesque.

New York’s Hudson Valley region is one with a rich artistic history, a legacy that the Festival is both inspired by and immensely proud to be a part of. As you meander through the charming towns of Woodstock, Rosendale, Saugerties, Rhinebeck and Kingston, take a moment to appreciate the natural beauty and channel the creative spirits of those who made the pilgrimage to this special area before you.

We extend our gratitude to the many wonderful people who took part in making the Woodstock Film Festival what it is today. Thank you to our hard working and dedicated staff, volunteers, filmmakers, industry members, sponsors and individual contributors, programmers, our past and present board of directors and advisory board members, and last but not least, the community at large. Over time, the Festival has transformed into an organization and annual event that has surpassed our most stratospheric expectations, and it couldn’t have gotten there without your generous support.

Welcome to the 20th Annual Woodstock Film Festival. See you at the movies!

Meira Blaustein, Co-founder and Executive Director and the whole Woodstock Film Festival Team

This Changes Everything Screening Spotlights Hollywood's Gender Problem

Director Tom Donahue answers audience questions with Woodstock Film Festival Co-founder and Executive Director Meira Blaustein.

Director Tom Donahue answers audience questions with Woodstock Film Festival Co-founder and Executive Director Meira Blaustein.

This past Friday, the Woodstock Film Festival and Upstate Films hosted a special screening of the documentary THIS CHANGES EVERYTHING to a packed house in Rhinebeck, New York. Executive produced by Geena Davis and directed by Tom Donahue, this pivotal documentary investigates the systemic and historical forces behind the endemic underrepresentation and misrepresentation of women in Hollywood. Exhaustively researched, the film features interviews with industry luminaries from both sides of the camera, including Geena Davis, Taraji P. Henson, Meryl Streep, Shonda Rhimes, Jill Soloway, and many others as they identify the problems with and propose solutions for the gender gap in film and media.

The event wrapped with a Q&A session attended by director Tom Donahue, a Woodstock Film Festival alum, where audience members were treated to an in-depth look into the behind-the-scenes process of the film’s research and production, and to an even deeper glimpse into today’s state of gender disparities. The film, which Woodstock Film Festival Co-Founder and Executive Director Meira Blaustein called “frustrating and inspiring at the same time, placing Hollywood front and center in a call to action,” had a crew that was 75% women, a rarity for the industry. The screening provided fertile grounds for discussion between viewers and filmmaker, with some attendees expressing interest in organizing future screenings of the film for their colleges, high schools and communities.

THIS CHANGES EVERYTHING is out now in select theaters. For more information about tickets and showtimes, visit the film’s website here.

2nd Annual Youth Film Lab Concludes

Students talk about their experience with the Youth Film Lab at Radio Kingston

Students talk about their experience with the Youth Film Lab at Radio Kingston

That’s a wrap! Over the past three weeks high school students learned about the pre-production, production, and post-production process and created their own remarkable narrative films. Fourteen Hudson Valley teenage students had the opportunity to learn about the filmmaking process from three teachers and three teacher assistants, as well as from visiting film industry professionals such as: Cynthia Kane creator of DOCday on Sundance Channel, cinematographer Michael Simmonds (HALLOWEEN, NEVER), sound mixer Carl Welden, writer and director Katherine Dieckmann (STRANGE WEATHER, MOTHERHOOD), post production extraordinaire Chad Smith, composer Peter Wetzler, and prolific casting director Ellen Chenoweth (O BROTHER WHERE ART THOU).

Gregg Bray, PHD, who has worked as a teacher for the Youth Film Lab in its second year now, said it was “a truly remarkable experience. It's amazing to work with such eager young people who are so imaginative, creative, and hard-working. Seeing the students pour their thoughts and feelings into the world using such a powerful vehicle as film was truly remarkable. It was just a pleasure to be part of the process.”

After a visit to Radio Kingston where the students were interviewed on the air, the students, teachers and teacher assistants went back to the Center for Creative Education for the premiere of their three films. The films will be shown to the public at the 20th Annual Woodstock Film Festival this October.

“We can see how this program will show girls that this is a field for them, and we will continue to have the explosion of women in film – letting us hear their stories - written and directed by them, for generations to come. Thank you for giving her the opportunity of a lifetime. Really - thank you is not enough. You have changed a life.”

-Parent Testimonial

Production starts for the short film “Epilogue to a Friendship”.

Production starts for the short film “Epilogue to a Friendship”.

Casting Director Ellen Chenoweth stops by to speak with the students.

Casting Director Ellen Chenoweth stops by to speak with the students.

THE GREAT HACK Screens to Sold-Out Crowd with Surprise Guest Appearance

On Sunday the Woodstock Film Festival hosted a special sold-out screening of the upcoming Netflix documentary THE GREAT HACK at Upstate Films Woodstock, with in-person appearances from Academy Award-nominated directors Jehane Noujaim and Karim Amer, executive producer Sarah E Johnson, and surprise guest Brittany Kaiser, the former Cambridge Analytica executive and whistleblower. Kaiser is one of the main subjects in this captivating, illuminating documentary about the company behind the data hacking scandal that influenced the 2016 US presidential elections, and political campaigns world-wide.

Following the screening, Kaiser, and the filmmakers, spoke to the audience about her personal journey: starting out her career as a human rights campaigner, then being hired by an organization that was largely credited with influencing the direction of the 2016 US elections, then becoming one of Cambridge Analytica’s primary whistleblowers. She now campaigns and lobbies federal and state governments to recognize personal data as private property.

The audience praised the film for provoking them to think about the way we use social media in an age when privacy no longer exists and Facebook feeds are populated by images of dogs and babies next to Russian-sponsored campaign ads. “How do I know what is true and what isn’t?” asked one viewer. Kaiser and the filmmakers spoke about the various organizations now developing fact-checking platforms, and the many steps developers, campaigners, and ordinary people are taking in anticipation of the 2020 elections.

THE GREAT HACK comes out on Netflix this Wednesday, July 24.

From left: Woodstock Film Festival co-founder and executive director Meira Blaustein, filmmakers Jehane Noujaim and Karim Amer, and film subject Brittany Kaiser.  Photo by: Jason Vasquez

From left: Woodstock Film Festival co-founder and executive director Meira Blaustein, filmmakers Jehane Noujaim and Karim Amer, and film subject Brittany Kaiser.
Photo by: Jason Vasquez

From left: Brittany Kaiser, Meira Blaustein, Hudson Valley-based producer Sarah E Johnson, Karim Amer, and Jehane Noujaim.  Photo by: Jason Vasquez

From left: Brittany Kaiser, Meira Blaustein, Hudson Valley-based producer Sarah E Johnson, Karim Amer, and Jehane Noujaim.
Photo by: Jason Vasquez



Casting Director Ellen Chenoweth Speaks to Students

On Monday, the Woodstock Film Festival’s annual Youth Film Lab, now in its second week, welcomed casting director Ellen Chenoweth, who spoke to students about her prolific career working with Barry Levinson, the Coen brothers and other well-known directors, and about her casting method.

“Don’t cast your typical villain,” Chenoweth advised to a student developing a short film about gun violence. “I tend to lean toward casting people who don’t fit the regular bill.”

Chenoweth’s role as a casting director, which has spanned decades, has helped launch the careers of once-unknown actors, like Mickey Rourke and Kevin Bacon. She began her career with the Coen brothers working on their film O BROTHER, WHERE ART THOU.

She advised students to organize group readings when casting for a film, and to try to search for cast members independent of what a director may have in mind.


Ellen Chenoweth talks to students about the casting process.

Ellen Chenoweth talks to students about the casting process.

Annual Youth Film Lab Kicks Off

The Woodstock Film Festival’s annual Youth Film Lab kicked off this past Monday July 8, with writer/documentary producer Cynthia Kane talking to students about the filmmaking process, reminding them to always remember the three whys: Why Me. Why This. Why Now.

On Tuesday, Michael Simmonds, acclaimed cinematographer whose portfolio includes films like HALLOWEEN, THE LUNCHBOX, and PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 2, stopped by to talk shot choices, blocking, lighting and more, showing a clip from his film HALLOWEEN to demonstrate some of his points.

Over the course of two weeks, students will learn from the masters and produce their own short films, which will screen at the upcoming Festival, taking place October 2-6, 2019.

Cynthia Kane with the students and mentors of the Youth Film Lab.

Cynthia Kane with the students and mentors of the Youth Film Lab.

Michael Simmonds with the students and mentors of the Youth Film Lab.

Michael Simmonds with the students and mentors of the Youth Film Lab.

Students learning how to use a camera.

Students learning how to use a camera.

Michael Simmonds showing clips from Halloween.

Michael Simmonds showing clips from Halloween.

Academy Invites Woodstock Alumns as New Members

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Yesterday the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences invited 842 artists and executives who have made exceptional contributions to motion pictures. The Woodstock Film Festival congratulates all of the new members and wants to extend a special congratulations to some of our friends and past alumni.

Nancy Abraham is the Co-Head of HBO Documentary and Family Programming. Abraham is a longtime friend of the festival and a former panelist and jury member.

Josh Fox is an Oscar-nominated filmmaker for his film GASLAND, which screened at the festival. In 2016 the festival organized a special screening of his film HOW TO LET GO OF THE WORLD AND LOVE ALL THE THINGS CLIMATE CAN’T CHANGE.

Lee Hirsch is an award-winning filmmaker who has served as a jury member in recent years. His social and politically themed documentary films have included AMANDLA (2002), which screened at the festival, about the role of music and the South African struggle against apartheid, and BULLY (2011).

Ryan Harrington is currently the VP of Documentary Films at National Geographic and is a long time friend of the festival and former jury member.

Nancy Abraham moderating the panel THROUGH THEIR LENS: THE AMERICAN CONDITION at the 2017 Woodstock Film Festival. Photo by Dion Ogust

Nancy Abraham moderating the panel THROUGH THEIR LENS: THE AMERICAN CONDITION at the 2017 Woodstock Film Festival. Photo by Dion Ogust

Chiemi Karasawa is a director and producer who has had several films -- A SEASON OF MADNESS, BILLY THE KID, and the Oscar nominated THE BETRAYAL-NERAKHOON -- screen at the Woodstock Film Festival. Karasawa participated in a panel about producing documentaries in 2008.

Sabine Krayenbühl is a prolific editor and has attended the festival in the past as an editing juror.

PJ Raval is a director and producer whose film TRINIDAD screened at the 2008 festival.

Scott Macaulay is the editor of Filmmaker Magazine. He has moderated panels for us in 2006 and 2009.

Karim Amer is a director and producer whose most recent film THE GREAT HACK will be playing at Upstate Films in Woodstock on July 21st. Click here for tickets and more information.

Skye Fitzgerald was nominated for an Oscar for Best Documentary Short Subject for the film LIFEBOAT, which screened at the Woodstock Film Festival and won the Best Short Documentary award.

Beth Levison is a producer known for 32 PILLS: MY SISTER’S SUICIDE, which screened at the festival in 2017 and won the award for Best Editing of a Feature Documentary.

Kevin Wilson Jr., Maverick award winner for best student short: MY NEPHEW EMMETT.

Kevin Wilson Jr., Maverick award winner for best student short: MY NEPHEW EMMETT.

Richard Abramowitz, a longtime friend of the festival, currently on the festivals advisory board, and head of Abramorama, a film distribution company whose recent Woostock titles have included GHOST FLEET and CARMINE STREET GUITARS.

Kevin H. Wilson, Jr. won the Best Student Short competition for his 2017 film MY NEPHEW EMMETT, a 20-minute short film based on the true story of the 1955 murder of Emmett Till, which was subsequently nominated for an Oscar for Best Live Action Short Film.

Lauren Wolkstein’s short films SOCIAL BUTTERFLY (2013) and THE STRANGE ONES (2011) were both featured in the festival. THE STRANGE ONES was then made a feature length film that was shot in the Hudson Valley and screened at the festival.

Andrew Bujalski’s films MUTUAL APPRECIATION (2005) and FUNNY HA HA (2002) have both screened at Woodstock. His most recent film SUPPORT THE GIRLS (2018), which premiered at last year’s South by Southwest Film Festival, stars Regina Hall (GIRLS TRIP) as the committed manager of a grimy Texas sports bar staffed by scantily clad waitresses. 

Katherine Dieckmann’s film STRANGE WEATHER, a poignant, lyrical, Southern-set drama about loss, vengeance, overcoming, and the power of female friendship, stars Holly Hunter and was presented as a special screening in summer 2017. Her film MOTHERHOOD screened at the festival with Uma Thurman in attendance. Dieckmann is also a mentor at the Youth Film Lab this year.

To see a full list of new members of the Academy click here. Congratulations to everyone! 

Outdoor Screening with Oscillation Transia Film Festival

On June 14th we presented a solar energy workshop and an outdoor screening (powered entirely by solar energy) in collaboration with Oscillation Transia Film Festival at the Congressman Maurice D. Hinchey Catskill Visitor Center. James Redford’s fascinating film HAPPENING: A CLEAN ENERGY REVOLUTION headlined the event. The film poses the question of whether renewables will ever replace fossil fuels.

The film was preceded by a screening of Jon Bowermaster’s short film GROWING WITH THE GRAIN. Bowermaster presented his film and led an animated discussion. His film offers insight into the recent boom in small grains research in the Hudson Valley and how local farmers, brewers, bakers, and consumers are all benefitting.

Austin Krause of Oscillation Transia Festival taught us about the incredible cost-effective benefits of solar energy and the many ways to introduce clean energy into our homes, and about how New York State is one of the most progressive in the nation in offering clean energy incentives.

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Woodstock Film Festival Unveils 20th Anniversary Poster

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Our 2019 poster has been announced! This year’s poster features art by local artists Beck Underwood and Adam Blaustein Rejto.

Since it is our 20th anniversary, we wanted to find artists who truly understood the spirit of the festival and what it brings to the community it serves. Beck and Adam have known each other since the first festival in 2000 and have continued to be involved ever since, making them a perfect fit in this collaborative team.

Their whimsical design wonderfully depicts what it means to be “fiercely independent,” drawing on our native backdrop of the Catskills.

We would like to thank both Beck Underwood and Adam Blaustein Rejto for their hard work and beautiful design.

Signed limited edition prints and posters, as well as t-shirts, hats and commemorative merchandise are available for purchase at The Film Center at 13 Rock City Road, Woodstock, NY, or click here.

Recap of Panel: Diverse Voices in Film & Media

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On June 1, a group of accomplished filmmakers of color got together to discuss the current state of diverse voices in film and media from their perspective. The conversation flowed from who should tell their stories to opening the door for the next generation of filmmakers.

“Who gets to tell our stories? It’s as simple as that. Do we get to tell our own stories? Or are they taken from us and told through a different lens?” commented Roger Ross Williams, an Academy Award winning director known for MUSIC BY PRUDENCE; GOD LOVES UGANDA; LIFE ANIMATED; and THE APOLLO, on the topic of Hollywood’s GREENBOOK.

Yoruba Richen, an award winning documentary filmmaker whose latest film is THE GREEN BOOK: GUIDE TO FREEDOM, was asked by an audience member her opinion on a white filmmaker making a film about an important black subject that no one else seems to want to make a film about. Richen commented, “It’s not that I don’t think, personally, a white person cannot do it. I will have to say, I do think the same way that Jill Soloway has said that there needs to be a moratorium on men making women’s stories,... I think there should be a moratorium on white people making black stories… However, I personally don’t think that it can’t happen, but I think that there are a lot of things that white filmmakers need to do if they are going to do that. And one of the things is to have African Americans as a real part of the creative process.”

When asked about the process of getting to where she is now and the differences people of color face, Lisa Cortés, an Academy Award nominated producer known for PRECIOUS; THE WOODSMAN; and SHADOWBOXER, said, “I have seen other peers who have won films at Sundance and they go on to do a big film, and for us it is different.” Both Cortés and Williams mentioned struggles that they continued to face even after winning awards.

When asked about his takeaway from the event, audience member Gregg Bray said, “One of the many takeaways from this event is the importance of community. Each filmmaker spoke about their transition from one career into filmmaking, and how even after their initial successes, they had to keep reaching out through their communities for their next project. Also, that there is a responsibility we all have for what stories we tell.”

We would like to thank everyone who came out to the event, and a special thank you to Lisa Cortés, Yoruba Richen, and Roger Ross Williams for being apart of our panel. As well as Lacey Schwartz Delgado for moderating. Thank you also to Radio Kingston for the collaboration, and to Aaron Rezny Studio Inc for hosting.

Spring Intern's Video Looking Back on Previous Years

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Over the course of his spring internship at Woodstock Film Festival, sophomore student at SUNY New Paltz, Robert Belli, created a promotional video celebrating the Woodstock Film Festival’s 20th anniversary.

Belli chose to interlace filmmakers interviews along with clips of past films and footage from past festivals in order to illustrate some of the artistic vision and independent spirit the film festival is known for. Belli took his time to experiment with various approaches, working towards showcasing the festival’s supportive atmosphere and creative endeavours, a place where filmmakers and audience members alike can be nurtured and flourish.

In the piece, Julie Taymor, an Academy Award nominated director known for films such as FRIDA and ACROSS THE UNIVERSE, takes on The Woodstock Film Festival’s tagline of “fiercely independent” into her own life. In the video Taymor says, “I can’t survive if I am not fiercely independent.”

We would like to thank Robert Belli for his hard work and beautiful video and wish him lots of success in his studies and beyond.

Taste of Woodstock WINNERS!

The 7th Annual Taste of Woodstock was a beautiful sunny evening where hundreds of friends and neighbors walked the streets of Woodstock enjoying the diverse and delectable fare the area has to offer. By all counts it was an absolutely fabulous evening, and we were able to show off our town and raise some money for the Film Festival and Hudson Valley Film Commission in the process.

Thank you to all who attended from near and far. And a special thank you to all the restaurants that participated so generously, you all outdid yourselves and made the night successful and memorable! See you next time!

Award Winners:

Best Overall: Woodstock Meats
Best Main Course:
Colony
Best Appetizer: 
Sharkie's Meatballs
Best Side Dish:
Woodstock Pub
Best Dessert:
Nancy's of Woodstock Artisanal Creamery
Best Beverage:
Calmbucha

Congratulations to all and thank you!

Screening Under the Stars Powered by Solar Energy

Happening: A Clean Energy Revolution

Happening: A Clean Energy Revolution

Happening: A Clean Energy Revolution

Happening: A Clean Energy Revolution

Join us for an screening under the stars and workshop powered by solar energy in collaboration with Oscillation Transia Film Festival at the Congressman Maurice D. Hinchey Catskill Visitor Center at (5096 NY-28, Mt Tremper, NY 12457) on June 14 at 7:30pm.

A screening of HAPPENING: A CLEAN ENERGY REVOLUTION, directed by James Redford, founder of the Redford Center, will headline the evening, preceded by the short film GROWING WITH THE GRAIN directed by Jon Bowermaster of Ocean 8 Films.

Prior to the screening there will be a Solar Energy Workshop Lead by Festival Engineer Austin Krause. Learn the basics of solar energy, how Oscillation Transia runs on solar, and how you can implement solar into your life today!

Watch the trailer here: HAPPENING: A CLEAN ENERGY REVOLUTION

Watch the trailer here: GROWING WITH THE GRAIN

Suggested donation $10. RSVP is required.

Seating will be provided but feel free to bring your own chairs and blankets.

Click here for more information and to RSVP

FEEDING MRS. MOSKOWITZ Electrifies Sold Out Audience

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Photo: Naomi Schmidt

Photo: Naomi Schmidt

On May 11, a sold out audience enjoyed a laugh out loud, electrifying performance.of FEEDING MRS. MOSKOWITZ at the Kleinert/James Center for the Arts. The screenplay reading was co-presented by the Woodstock Film Festival, and Actors & Writers. The screenplay was written by Barbara Pokras and Fran Pokras Yariv, based on the novella by Pokras.

The show featured cast from Actors & Writers, including stage and screen actors Lori Wilner, Dannah Chaifetz, Mikhail Horowitz, Sarah Chodoff, Shelley Wyant, Joe White, Mark St Germain, Katherine Burger, Davis Hall, Mary Gallagher, Nina Shengold and Brian Macready. Shelley Wyant directed, and described the evening as follows: “We stirred up some creative juices and the results were magical! What a delight for us and for our community.”

Thank to all who attended.

Upcoming Events:
May 22 – 7th ANNUAL TASTE OF WOODSTOCK
May 30BAD BLACK from Wakaliwood in Uganda

Click here for upcoming events featuring ACTORS & WRITERS