CONTACT: press@woodstockfilmfestival.com or 845-679-4265

Woodstock, NY (May 2016) - The Woodstock Film Festival is pleased to announce that the Haskell Wexler Cinematography Award will continue under the guardianship of Wexler's friend and colleague Ellen Kuras, carrying on Wexler’s legacy for years to come. The 2016 Woodstock Film Festival takes place October 13-16.

"One of the most inventive and unique voices in cinema of our time, Haskell was a rebel and advocate of progressive causes who lived his politics through his work, and his work through his spirited beliefs," wrote Kuras, “We continue to honor Haskell and his work by recognizing filmmakers who reflect his passion.”

“Continuing a legacy like Haskell’s is not a simple or obvious matter,” said Meira Blaustein, executive director of the Woodstock Film Festival, “The special recognition bestowed upon each winning cinematographer by Haskell was one of their most cherished honors and ours as well. Letting go of that would have been letting go of a legacy too important for too many, and so, under Ellen Kuras' outstanding leadership, we are thrilled that the Haskell Wexler Award for Best Cinematography will live on.” 

In 2001, the Woodstock Film Festival launched the Haskell Wexler Cinematography Award, with Wexler himself judging the award on distinct parameters. “Professional cinema image taking should integrate, serve, interest, and enhance the story,” Wexler said. “I judge cinematography not just for a story well told, but for what the story is.”

Haskell Wexler, who passed away in December 2015, was an integral part of the Woodstock Film Festival family since its inception. He visited the festival often and took part in screenings, panels, concerts, and career day events, where he talked with area high school students about his experience as a filmmaker, a documentarian, and a human being. In 2008, Wexler received the Woodstock Film Festival’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

Academy Award-nominated Ellen Kuras is one of the most important pioneering filmmakers of the last two decades, best known for her visually stunning work in films like such as Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless MindBlow, and Summer of Sam, among others. One of the first women invited to join the American Society of Cinematographers, her work spans both the independent and studio worlds and crosses genres from narrative to documentary to concert films. She has worked with directors Michel Gondry, Martin Scorsese, Spike Lee, and Jonathan Demme; She has numerous Emmy and Independent Spirit award nominations, and is the unprecedented three-time winner of the Best Dramatic Cinematography Award at the Sundance Film Festival. Kuras’ directorial debut, The Betrayal (“Nerakhoon”), a film she also shot and produced, was nominated for an Academy Award in 2009. In 2010 it went on to win a Primetime Emmy award. She has also directed and shot commercials around the world for companies such as Delta, Nike, Pfizer, and Humana.

Ellen Kuras and Haskell Wexler at 2008 Woodstock Film Festival. Photo by Veronica O'Keefe

Ellen Kuras and Haskell Wexler at 2008 Woodstock Film Festival. Photo by Veronica O'Keefe

Legend is not a term used lightly to describe Wexler, who has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He won two Best Cinematography Oscars: one for Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (the last black and white film to receive the honor) and another for the Woody Guthrie biopic Bound for Glory. Wexler was also credited as additional cinematographer on Days of Heaven, which won a Best Cinematography Oscar for Nestor Almendros. He was nominated for three other films – One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, John Sayles‘ film Matewan and Ron Shelton’s Blaze. Other film credits included the anti-war classic Coming Home and the racial drama In the Heat of the Night, featuring Sidney Poitier and Rod Steiger. Wexler worked with many directors including Elia Kazan, Mike Nichols, Milos Forman, Hal Ashby, Norman Jewison, and George Lucas.

In addition to his work as a cinematographer, Wexler directed a dozen documentaries. His seminal film, Medium Cool, mixed documentary and dramatic elements to show the confrontation between Chicago police and protesters ,through a cameraman’s POV, at the 1968 Democratic National Convention.

For a list of Woodstock Film Festival winners of this award since 2001, see Haskell Wexler Cinematography Award.

Panavision NY has sponsored the prize of $15,000 in rental gear since 2007.

Hailed as "A true American Maverick Among Fests" and named among the top 50 film festivals world wide, the Woodstock Film Festival premieres exceptional films, hosts the most talented emerging and established professionals in the movie industry; presents A-list concerts, panels and parties, and creates stimulating, innovative programming year-round.

The Woodstock Film Festival is a non-profit, 501c3 with a mission to present an annual program and year-round schedule of film, music and art-related activities that promote artists, culture, inspired learning and diversity.

The Woodstock Film Festival returns October 13-16, 2016 with an extraordinary line-up of fiercely independent films, panels, concerts and special events in Woodstock, Rhinebeck, Kingston, Rosendale and Saugerties.