16 Days of Staff Picks

The countdown begins! Today is the beginning of the sixteen-day countdown to the Woodstock Film Festival. Are you excited? We're excited! We're getting ready to don our party outfits, eat some cake, and screen some movies. To mark the occasion, we're bringing you 16 days of staff picks to get you ready for this year's Sweet Sixteen Celebration!

Today's Staff Picks are...

Homeless is our Narrative Feature Staff Pick today for it's dramatic and realistic look into the life of a teenager without a home. Thrust into life as a homeless teenager when his grandmother dies, he is faced with the reality of life with no money, job or family to take care of him. His journey to self-reliance is an emotional one that is not to be missed!

Our Documentary Staff Pick of the day is Reconquest of the Useless. Filled with adventure and discovery, this doc inspires its viewers to want to explore, pursue their dreams, and/or experience the life of a tourist that takes the road less traveled. 

Films can impact change, whether it's intentional or not. They move us to think about worldly or local issues, to take on life in new ways, or to bring to light things we never thought to ponder before. Today's Staff Pick for Panels is Impact Film, a discussion on 'Social Impact' and the accountability of directors for that type of work. 




USA / 2015 / 92 MINUTES

Filmed in a real shelter with real people, Homeless tells the story of Gosh (Josh), a teenage boy lost in the bleak routine of life in a shelter. After his father is sent to jail and his grandmother passes away, Gosh, unable to pay rent, is forced onto the streets with only the clothes on his back and his iPod. If this were a Hallmark production, we'd expect some kindhearted soul to rescue Gosh. And indeed, after weeks of loneliness and setbacks, he is befriended and lands a job. But Homeless isn’t a family-TV movie. Based on a real life story, debut director Clay Riley Hassler manages to truly portray a sense of what being homeless is like.

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Upstate Films I RHINEBECK
10/2/2015, 3:00PM

Upstate Films WOODSTOCK
10/4/2015, 4:45PM



Reconquest Of The Useless is a documentary film that follows the travails of three young men as they journey nearly 5,000 miles through the Peruvian Amazon searching for inspiration, adventure and the legacy of Werner Herzog's classic film Fitzcarraldo thirty years after it was made. Like Fitzcarraldo, who dreamed of building an opera house in the jungle, and Herzog himself, with his transcendent vision of cinema, the creators of Reconquest Of The Useless also pursue quixotic dreams: to travel without being tourists and to have transformative experiences by exploring what is rarely sought after.


Bearsville Theater WOODSTOCK
10/1/2015, 12:30PM

10/3/2015, 8:00PM

PANEL: Impact Film

Kleinert James Art Center WOODSTOCK
10/3/2015, 10:00AM

 "Social Impact" is a term and a goal that many filmmakers thrive to achieve. Yet it can seem overwhelming in the face of the many challenges, from getting any project funded, made and out there, to achieving and showing the results of the "impact". Our panelists, for whom impact is a vital part, will lead us through personal case studies to explore and define what has worked for them. Here are some common questions they will try to answer:

. What's behind all the buzz about impact measurement?
. How do we measure impact when it's not always clearly definable?
. Is it fair to expect to require filmmakers to be held accountable for this type of work?
. What are some best practices from the field?
. Is the impact producer an essential hire for any project today?
. When, how and why some films can be a tool for real change?


Andrew Catauro is the Manager of JustFilms, the Ford Foundation's social justice documentary and digital storytelling initiative. JustFilms provides support to filmmakers, artists and organizations who seek to drive social change by using creative visual approaches to highlight issues of justice, rights, and equity. JustFilms works to expand networks and resources for this community of independent makers around the world, to elevate their artistry, and to maximize the impact of their stories. Prior to joining the Foundation in 2013, Andrew was Coordinating Producer of the prime time PBS documentary showcase POV, supervising programming and production work flows for the series.

Dan Cogan

is the executive director and co-founder of Impact Partners, a fund and advisory service for investors and philanthropists who seek to promote social change through film. Since its inception in 2007, Impact Partners has been involved in the financing of more than 60 films, including The Cove, which won the 2010 Academy Award for Documentary Feature and How to Survive A Plague, which was nominated for the Academy Award for Documentary Feature in 2013. Cogan co-founded Gamechanger Films, which launched in September 2013. Gamechanger Films is the first for-profit film fund dedicated exclusively to financing narrative features directed by women.

Paco de Onis grew up in several Latin American countries during a time of dictatorships. He is the executive director and executive producer of Skylight, a human rights media organization dedicated to creating documentary films and innovative media tools for long-term strategies to advance social and economic justice. One of these long-term strategies is Skylight Labs, a program developed to disseminate Skylight's model for developing human rights media ecosystems in conjunction with committed media makers, technologists and movement organizations. The Labs have a regional focus, but with the ultimate goal of creating a global network of practitioners.

Mike Webber is an award-winning documentary filmmaker and producer/co-director of The Student Body. His career began with fiction films, producing numerous theatrical films for studios such as 20th Century Fox and Lionsgate. Applying his storytelling skills to non-fiction filmmaking, Webber went on to direct his "passion project," the critically-acclaimed hit documentary The Elephant in the Living Room, which won 5 Best Documentary awards and released as the #1 independent film in the US. Michael has been guest on dozens of radio and television talk shows, including appearances on The Today Show, ABC World News Tonight, NBC Nightly News, Nightline, and ABC 20/20.

Todd Wider (with his brother, Jedd), has produced numerous critically and commercially successful documentary films, including Academy Award nominated King's Point, multiple Primetime Emmy Award and Peabody Award winning Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God, Emmy Award nominated Semper Fi: Always Faithful, multiple Emmy Award nominated Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer, and Academy Award and multiple Emmy Award winning Taxi to the Dark Side. He was nominated by the Producers Guild of America for Outstanding Producer of Documentary Theatrical Motion Pictures.

MODERATOR: Cynthia Kane serves as Senior Commissioning Producer for documentaries at Al Jazeera America. Prior: ITVS (Independent Television Service), managing the International Initiative for Funding, Sundance Channel, where she co-created DocDay.