WOODSTOCK FILM FESTIVAL
DECEMBER 2016 NEWSLETTER

"HONORING THE YOUNG AND THE OLD, ENDORSING COMMUNITY, ADVOCATING INSPIRATION
AND LAUDING HUMANITARIAN GESTURES — ALL SENTIMENTS THAT SUM UP WOODSTOCK AND
ITS 'FIERCELY INDEPENDENT' FILM FESTIVAL, QUITE WELL." (HOLLYWOOD REPORTER)

2016 was a year to remember! The 17th Annual Woodstock Film Festival was a success and featured many highlights including the sold-out World Premiere of BLIND. Guests, including Karen Allen, Alec Baldwin, Ben Foster, Leon Gast, Catherine Hardwicke, Jim Jarmusch, Alejandro González Iñárritu, David Linde, Oren Moverman, Kate Pierson, and many others, turned out to make 2016 special. 

2016 was also a year to forget. Many loved ones were lost, especially in music (David Bowie, Keith Emerson, Greg Lake, Leon Russell, Sharon Jones, Leonard Cohen, Paul Kantner, Prince, Glenn Frey).

And the world seems to have fractured on so many levels. The bonds that should unite humanity have been torn asunder by propagandists, politicians and greed. Truth has lost its dominion to money. This makes what we do at the Woodstock Film Festival more important than ever. As we start our 18th year, we will continue to present established and emerging filmmakers who are dedicated to sharing universal truths about the human condition by using film as powerful tool for expression and conflict resolution.

We want to wish you all very happy & healthy holiday season, and as the year comes to a close, we'd like to remind you that there's still time to support the continued efforts of the WOODSTOCK FILM FESTIVAL and HUDSON VALLEY FILM COMMISSION.

Funding for 2017 will offset costs for the 18th annual Woodstock Film Festival, including year-round screenings, marketing, community outreach, artist and guest relations, travel, venues, equipment rentals, independent contractors, mortgage payments and other expenses.

Please make a tax-deductible donation today. 


From Sundance to Times Square, Woodstock Film Festival alumni make waves.


Counting Sheep

For the whole month of December, former WFF volunteer Jessica Medenbach's film clip COUNTING SHEEP will be screening on the Times Square electronic billboards from 11:57 pm to midnight every night. She raised all the money on Kickstarter to make the film, directing and co-producing the piece with artist Tal Yarden, who creates, designs, directs and shoots visual content for a variety of mediums. He specializes in work for live events including dance, theater, opera, special events and music performances. In 2009, Tal filmed a giant snow angel at the Woodstock Day School from 60’ up in a bucket truck. A group of 25 angels were videotaped in a number of positions surrounding performer Reagan Bongiorno, who was cast as the centerpiece 'red' angel. The work became part of CRIES & WHISPERS, a theater project by the Dutch theater company Toneelgroep Amsterdam. 

COUNTING SHEEP is a part of Midnight Moment, a monthly presentation by the Times Square Advertising Coalition (TSAC) and Times Square Arts.

For the year’s end, Counting Sheep shepherds us into a soothing American pastiche of expansive Wyoming landscapes. The film follows the Meike brothers, octogenarian sheep ranchers, through the arc of the year’s natural seasons, from the winter fields to the Big Horn Mountains in summer before trailing home in the fall.


LOVING

LOVING was the centerpiece screening at the 17th annual Woodstock Film Festival, courtesy of Focus Features. Frequently cited as an Academy Award Contender, the film is currently screening at Upstate Films Rhinebeck.

LOVING, much admired in Cannes this year, celebrates the real-life courage and commitment of an interracial couple, Richard and Mildred Loving, who fell in love and were married in 1958.

The couple grew up in Central Point, a small Virginia town that was more integrated than surrounding areas in the South. Yet it was Virginia -- where they were making their home and starting a family -- that first jailed and then banished them. The Lovings relocated to the inner city of Washington, D.C. While relatives made them feel welcome there, the urban environment didn't feel like home. Ultimately, their Virginia roots spurred Mildred to find a way back.

Their civil rights case, Loving v. Virginia, went all the way to the Supreme Court, which in 1967 reaffirmed the very foundation of the right to marry. Richard and Mildred returned home and their love story has inspired couples ever since.

Producer, Peter Saraf (Loving) holds a Q&A at the 17th Annual Woodstock Film Festival. Photo by Matthew Dammer

Producer, Peter Saraf (Loving) holds a Q&A at the 17th Annual Woodstock Film Festival. Photo by Matthew Dammer


Moonlight

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Barry Jenkins' debut film MEDICINE FOR MELANCHOLY screened at the 2008 Woodstock Film Festival, where it received Honorable Mention for the Lee Marvin Best Feature Narrative Award.

MOONLIGHT is currently playing at Upstate Films Rhinebeck and is one of the most acclaimed films of the year.

Barry's new film MOONLIGHT, is a timeless story of human connection and self-discovery. It chronicles the life of a young black man from childhood to adulthood as he struggles to find his place in the world while growing up in a rough neighborhood of Miami.

At once a vital portrait of contemporary African American life and an intensely personal and poetic meditation on identity, family, friendship, and love, MOONLIGHT is a groundbreaking piece of cinema that reverberates with deep compassion and universal truths. Anchored by extraordinary performances from a tremendous ensemble cast, Jenkins’s staggering, singular vision is profoundly moving in its portrayal of the moments, people, and unknowable forces that shape our lives and make us who we are.

 


Proud to announce that many Woodstock Film Festival alumni and friends will have films premiering at the Sundance Film Festival, which takes place from January 19-29, 2017. Executive Director Meira Blaustein will be in attendance for what is sure to be a high-quality slate of diverse and thought provoking films.


Photo credit: Daniel Hernández-Salazar

Photo credit: Daniel Hernández-Salazar

500 Years

U.S.A. (Director: Pamela Yates)

Pamela Yates screened her film REBEL CITIZEN at the 2016 Woodstock Film Festival. REBEL CITIZEN illuminates the political documentary work of legendary documentarian and friend of the Woodstock Film Festival, Haskell Wexler.

"From a historic genocide trial to the overthrow of a president, the sweeping story of mounting resistance played out in Guatemala’s recent history is told through the actions and perspectives of the majority indigenous Mayan population, who now stand poised to reimagine their society."

500 YEARS will have its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival.


Beach Rats

U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Eliza Hittman)

Eliza Hittman screened her film It Felt Like Love at the 2013 Woodstock Film Festival. It was her first feature film and was released to many accolades, such as being voted one of the Top Ten films at Sundance in Film Comment by Laura Kern.

"An aimless teenager on the outer edges of Brooklyn struggles to escape his bleak home life and navigate questions of self-identity, as he balances his time between his delinquent friends, a potential new girlfriend, and older men he meets online."

Cast: Harris Dickinson, Madeline Weinstein, Kate Hodge, Neal Huff.

BEACH RATS will have its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival, where it will compete in the U.S. Dramatic Competition.

 


Mudbound

U.S.A. (Director: Dee Rees, Screenwriters: Virgil Williams, Dee Rees, Hillary Jordan)

Dee Rees is a part time resident of the Hudson Valley.

"In the post– World War II South, two families are pitted against a barbaric social hierarchy and an unrelenting landscape as they simultaneously fight the battle at home and the battle abroad. This epic pioneer story is about friendship, heritage and the unending struggle for and against the land."

Cast: Carey Mulligan, Jason Clarke, Jason Mitchell, Mary J. Blige, Garrett Hedlund, Jonathan Banks. 

Mudbound will have its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival.


Sidney Hall

U.S.A. (Director: Shawn Christensen, Screenwriters: Shawn Christensen, Jason Dolan)

Shawn Christensen screened his short film CURFEW at the 2012 Woodstock Film Festival where it won our award for Best Short Film. The film then went on to receive the Academy Award for Best Live Action Short Film. Shawn returned in 2014 to screen his film BEFORE I DISAPPEAR in its New York Premiere.

"Over the course of 12 years, and three stages of life, Sidney Hall falls in love, writes the book of a generation and then disappears without a trace."

Shawn Christensen (right) with Paul Wesley at the 2014 Woodstock Film Festival. 

Shawn Christensen (right) with Paul Wesley at the 2014 Woodstock Film Festival. 

Cast: Logan Lerman, Elle Fanning, Kyle Chandler, Michelle Monaghan, Nathan Lane, Margaret Qualley.

SIDNEY HALL will have its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival.


TAKE EVERY WAVE: THE LIFE OF LAIRD HAMILTON

U.S.A. (Director: Rory Kennedy)

Rory Kennedy won the Best Documentary Feature award at the 2002 Woodstock Film Festival for her film A BOY'S LIFE.

"This is the remarkable story of an American icon who changed the sport of big wave surfing forever. Transcending the surf genre, this in- depth portrait of a hard-charging athlete explores the fear, courage and ambition that push a man to greatness— and the cost that comes with it."

TAKE EVERY WAVE: THE LIFE OF LAIRD HAMILTON will have its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival.

director Rory Kennedy

director Rory Kennedy


This Is Everything: Gigi Gorgeous

U.S.A. (Director: Barbara Kopple)

Academy Award winner Barbara Kopple has screened many films at the Woodstock Film Festival; she was our 2006 honorary Maverick Award recipient and is a longtime friend of the Woodstock Film Festival.

"Are there limits to your love for your family? One family’s acceptance is tested when a champion diver, destined for the Olympics, announces he’s transitioning into a woman—and invites his YouTube followers along for every moment. It’s a story about unconditional love and finding the courage to be yourself."

THIS IS EVERYTHING: GIGI GORGEOUS will have its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival. 

Barbara Kopple at the 2016 Woodstock Film Festival with director and Lifetime Achievement Award recipient Leon Gast

Barbara Kopple at the 2016 Woodstock Film Festival with director and Lifetime Achievement Award recipient Leon Gast


Walking Out

U.S.A. (Directors and screenwriters: Alex Smith, Andrew Smith) 

Alex Smith and Andrew Smith screened their film WINTER IN THE BLOOD at the 2013 Woodstock Film Festival where it won an Honorable Mention for our Best Feature Narrative Award. Alex Smith is also a resident of the Hudson Valley. 

"A father and son struggle to connect on any level until a brutal encounter with a predator in the heart of the wilderness leaves them both seriously injured. If they are to survive, the boy must carry his father to safety."

Cast: Matt Bomer, Josh Wiggins, Bill Pullman, Alex Neustaedter, Lily Gladstone.

WALKING OUT will have its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival, where it will compete in the U.S. Dramatic Competition.

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The Hudson Valley Film Commission (Woodstock Film Festival’s sister organization) is OVERJOYED that legislation pertaining to additional film tax credits for the mid-Hudson Valley has been signed into law by Governor Cuomo.

This legislation, which is effective immediately, increases New York State Film Production Tax Credits by 10% on BELOW THE LINE LABOR COSTS for Films or TV shows budgeted at $500k and above, in Ulster, Dutchess, Orange, Greene, Sullivan, Columbia, and six other non mid-Hudson Counties.

“We already had the ideal locations, vendors, infrastructure, crew, background talent and exceptional A-list actors," says Laurent Rejto of the Hudson Valley Film Commission. "All we needed was the economic opportunity to compete on a level playing field. The additional film tax credits are a win-win for Film and TV productions, the mid-Hudson Valley region and the entire state!”

With the support of hundreds of local film industry members and government officials, the Hudson Valley Film Commission campaigned for these additional incentives over a four year period. 

Director Jim Mickle (COLD IN JULY, WE ARE WHAT WE ARE) wrote "The Hudson Valley is one of the most rewarding places to shoot films, and as someone who’s directed three films in the area, I never want to shoot anywhere else.”

Academy Award winning actor Melissa Leo (THE FIGHTER, FROZEN RIVER) added that “Our region deserves the ability to host larger film productions!”

For production and post production information in the mid Hudson Valley regarding your next film or TV show, please contact email filmcommission@me.com or visit https://esd.ny.gov/businessprograms/filmcredit.html


The Woodstock Film Festival showcases some of the best contemporary filmmaking from around the world, featuring passionate, creative, captivating and affirming work by some of today's most promising and accomplished independent filmmakers. Events generate large, enthusiastic audiences, news headlines, social media exposure and a gamut of other promotional opportunities.

Woodstock Film Festival Sponsorships come in a variety of shapes and sizes. We will work with you to custom fit a partnership that benefits your business marketing goals! If you are interested in learning more, give us a call at 845.679.4265 or email sponsor@woodstockfilmfestival.com

For more about our wonderful 2016 SPONSORS, click below.


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We would like to also extend a thank you to advertisers who support our monthly Newsletters including: 
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Margo Ann Pelletier

"It was an honor to follow Margo's progress over the years as she developed the feature film THIRSTY," said executive director Meira Blaustein, "It was a bigger honor to show the completed film last October at the Woodstock Film Festival, where it played in front of a completely sold out house at the Saugerties Performing Arts Factory.  Everyone enjoyed enjoyed watching the film with her, and a live performance and party followed afterwards.

Margo's resilient spirit saw her through the production and exhibition of THIRSTY and carried her through the difficult fight with cancer. May she rest in peace."

"Margo Pelletier, the brilliant visionary director of THIRSTY, passed away on November 27, 2016 after a long and valiant battle with cancer.

In telling Scott Townsend’s story, Margo was telling her own story, as she grew from a misunderstood tomboy to a politically and artistically passionate adult – one who appreciated both the dangers and joys of gender identity. We’re smiling through the tears that Margo was able to see her vision realized. Despite the odds against her, Margo was able to accompany the film from it's first sneak preview in Provincetown to it's premieres in New York, London, Woodstock and Orlando.

The early reviews of the film coupled with the audience reactions energized Margo and kept her going until she could go no more. Margo will live on, not only in the films she made with her wife and producing partner, Lisa Thomas, but in the memories of all those who knew, loved and admired her. We will miss you Margo. You saw things in a way that was uniquely your own and were without a doubt ahead of your time."

 


In Memoriam

Josh Gilbert

"Filmmaker, writer, father, and friend Josh Gilbert, was a funny and compassionate man, who always spoke his mind and never compromised. He passed away on November 26 after a two year battle with leukemia and is survived by his son, Henry. In 2006, the Woodstock FIlm Festival had the pleasure of screening his documentary A/K/A TOMMY CHONG, when Josh was still considered a Woodstock local. When Hurricane Irene downed a tree on his storage shed a few years later, Josh donated much of his film paraphernalia for our window display. He had been working on many exciting projects when he was diagnosed in 2014. He fought with tremendous courage and grace, and he expressed his turmoil with brutal honesty in his writings. That was Josh. Rest in peace. We will always miss you." - Meira Blaustein 

"My brilliant Belgian stem cell doctor, Koen Van Besien, covers the western science biochemical side of the equation here and he has assured me that all science, cellular and biochemical, stands in my favor as I move forward into the unknown, and that my chances are very good. But he admits, as always, as do we all, that I'll still need "a little bit of luck." Over the past week, my Somalian nurse, Farida, offered up the advice of embracing 'yey-lin' which means 'acceptance' in the heart of her native language. And my Nigerian nurse's aide, Eberle, who is notably, almost strangely ever-quiet, acknowledged my worry this morning and offered up a wish for my healing with a word from his mother tongue: oh-puh-queh. Which means to have faith and hope in God.

The dawn of my big day awakens now with a burst of sunlight raking in from the east, over the river and through my window, and from here I guess I'm in the hands of destiny. I realize I'm oversharing here on the Internet, in a big stark way, standing in front of you, unprotected and exposed to the world. But I guess that's the world we all live in now. Hiding in private moments like these is an option but somehow doesn't seem relevant to modern life the way we used to live it. We're all opening up and dreaming our dreams in public now. Well a lot of us are, apparently...

I hope we can all get healthy and stay healthy and remember to be be positive and grateful and to enjoy our lives while we're here, living them." - Josh Gilbert; September 9, 2016