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


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.


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


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


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:
Best Appetizer: 
Sharkie's Meatballs
Best Side Dish:
Woodstock Pub
Best Dessert:
Nancy's of Woodstock Artisanal Creamery
Best Beverage:

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: 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

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 30BAD BLACK from Wakaliwood in Uganda

Click here for upcoming events featuring ACTORS & WRITERS

Coming Up May 11: Staged Screenplay Reading of Feeding Mrs. Moskowitz


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Join us at the Kleinert/James Center for the Arts (34 Tinker Street Woodstock, NY) on May 11 at 7PM.

Suggested Donation $15.00

Screenplay by Barbara Pokras and Fran Pokras Yariv 
Based on the novella by Barbara Pokras

Featuring cast from Actors & Writers, including stage and screen actors Lori Wilner, Dannah Chaifetz, Mikhail Horowitz, Joe White, Mark St Germain, Katherine Burger, Davis Hall, Mary Gallagher, Nina Shengold and Brian Macready.

Directed by Actors & Writers member Shelley Wyant.

FEEDING MRS. MOSKOWITZ tells the story of the remarkable Golde Moskowitz, an elderly Russian widow living alone with her memories. In Golde’s world, “signs” are everywhere, the dead converse with the living, and dreams are real. Natalie Holtzman, a thirty-six-year-old graphic artist longing for connection, fills her world with work and her commitment-wary boyfriend, Artie. One sweltering summer morning, Golde decides to do some grocery shopping. Natalie, on her way to work, quite literally “runs into” her, and the lives of both women are forever changed. Gracefully poignant, FEEDING MRS. MOSKOWITZ explores the world of two women at different stages of their lives with deft humor and heart-warming detail.

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Barbara Pokras is an Emmy award-winning film editor and a member of American Cinema Editors, Inc., Motion Picture Editors Guild and New York Women in Film and Television. She was an adjunct professor in the Cinema Department of the University of Southern California (1995-1997) and is a graduate of that university. Barbara and husband Bob Malkin of the iconic Soho gallery, ThinkBig! and ThinkBig! A Tiny House Resort, live in Upstate New York, with their rescue dogs, Noodle and O’Henry.

Fran Pokras Yariv grew up in Fairfield, Connecticut, received her B.A. in creative writing and M.A. in education at Syracuse University. She is the author of the novels Leaving, The Hallowing, Last Exit, and Safe Haven and was awarded a Writers Guild of America, East, Foundation Fellowship in screenwriting. She and her husband, Dr. Amnon Yariv, professor of applied physics and electrical engineering at Caltech, live in Pasadena, California.

The writers wish to acknowledge James Hardy, producer, Bob Hope Enterprises and Alhambra Pictures, who believed in the book, commissioned the screenplay and thoughtfully guided them through numerous revisions. Thank you, Jim!

Actors & Writers is a professional theater ensemble that performs old and new plays in the Hudson Valley area including Odd Fellows in Olivebridge, Maverick Concert Hall in Woodstock, Unison Arts in New Paltz, and ASK in Kingston Rondout.

You are Invited: 7th Annual Taste of Woodstock

On Wednesday, May 22, from 6-9pm, the 7th Annual Taste of Woodstock will celebrate the culinary diversity and delicacies that the region has to offer. 21 restaurants and hosts are set to participate including A&P Bar, Bike & Brew Co, Bread Alone, CalmbuchaColony, Catskill Mountain Pizza, Early Terrible, Fruition Chocolate Works, Joshua's, Little AppleLenny Bee Productions, Mountain Gate Indian RestaurantNancy's Artisanal Creamery, Oriole 9, Reservoir Inn, Sharkie’s MeatballsShindig, Silvia, Station Bar & Curio, T SalonWoodstock Meats, Woodstock Pizza Theater, Woodstock Wine & Liquors, and Yum Yum Noodle Bar.

*New participants will be added as they join. Participants subject to change.

Good food. Good company. Good cause. Join your friends and neighbors for a fun filled Woodstock evening!

Proceeds from the event will benefit the Woodstock Film Festival and Hudson Valley Film Commission.

For tickets, visit

Special Screening: AMAZING GRACE


April 28th

Special screening of AMAZING GRACE, with live musical introduction by Simi Stone

A co-presentation with Upstate Films

Location: Upstate Films Woodstock
2 pm

“It doesn’t matter how much time you’ve spent with “Amazing Grace” the album. No suitable preparation exists for the experience of witnessing its recording...Everybody deserves to have the revelation it offers — and the emotional exercise. Everybody deserves to have Aretha Franklin take them to the moon.” - The New York Times

AMAZING GRACE is a documentary presenting Aretha Franklin with choir at the New Bethel Baptist Church in Watts, Los Angeles in January 1972. Aretha Franklin recorded her live album “Amazing Grace” over two nights in 1972. The footage in the concert documentary of the same name shows the transcendent process.

Courtesy of Neon

Buy tickets here

In Memoriam: Alan Siegel


Alan Siegel, director of The Thompson Family Foundation, a charitable foundation with a goal to give back to America - through arts, culture, education and science, and in particular, cancer research, passed away March 18th. Alan was one of those truly remarkable individuals who thrived on supporting scientific and humanitarian innovations as well as artistic endeavors. He traveled the world many times over and created powerful partnerships like the one between Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and the Weizmann Institute which resulted in successful clinical trials for an early-stage of prostate cancer therapy. Among some of the charitable entities close to his heart were also those that were Woodstock based, including the Maverick Concerts, Woodstock School of Art and the Woodstock Film Festival, where his support went specifically towards the festival’s Youth Initiative.

Together with his childhood sweetheart, his wife Sandy, Alan experienced life to the fullest. No one enjoyed and appreciated culture, art, scientific discoveries and helping humanity more than he did. An accomplished artist in his own right, Alan was a man with many stories to tell, many adventures to have lived, and has accumulated countless grateful individuals and organizations along the way.

We send our deepest condolences to Alan’s family and friends as we mourn the passing of a truly remarkable man. Rest in peace.

Woodstock Film Festival Youth Film Lab Returns This Summer

The Woodstock Film Festival Summer Youth Film Lab returns this summer for the 2nd year!

Under the leadership of Meira Blaustein, Woodstock Film Festival Co-Founder / Executive Director, the film lab will run July 8 - 26, 2019, at the Center for Creative Education in mid-town Kingston, NY.

Megan Sperry, Professor of Digital Media Production at SUNY New Paltz, returns as the Woodstock Film Festival Summer Youth Film Lab Program Director.


The Youth Film Lab is an opportunity for Hudson Valley teenage students to learn about the filmmaking process from film industry professionals. Over the span of the three-week program, students will learn about each phase of the production process; conceptualizing, writing, filming and editing original projects. Students will work in small groups with a dedicated instructor. Field trips and presentations by mentors working in the field will increase students understanding of the film industry and culture. Films produced at the Lab will be shown this fall at the 20th annual Woodstock Film Festival. Open for students 14-18 years old with an interest in filmmaking. This program is absolutely FREE for students.

The 2nd Annual Woodstock Film Festival Summer Youth Film Lab was made possible with support from an anonymous donor.

Click HERE to sign up. Space is limited.

LOOK BACK: Women in Film & Television Event

Photo by: Rob Belli

Photo by: Rob Belli

This past Saturday saw an inspirational event spotlighting and celebrating powerful and talented women working in different fields within the film and television industries. Hundreds attended and filled the overflowing room, and the talk ran far longer than anticipated, with a meet & greet session afterwards.

Our dynamic panelists included Janet Grillo, Ellen Kuras, Blair Breard, Lacey Schwartz-Delgado, Wendy Ettinger, Wendy Lidell, and Lisa Myers.

Each woman ended the panel with a word of advice for aspiring filmmakers:

Janet Grillo told us, “The DNA genetic code of a society caries forth who we are, what we value, what matters, and it’s so important to tell them, so keep telling your story.”

Ellen Kuras reminded us, “You don’t have to be a jerk to be good. Trust your inner voice, it will tell you the truth.”

Blair Breard left the imparting words, “You have to really love what you do and kind of give yourself over to that. And if it’s your thing it’s absolutely worth it.”

Lacey Schwartz-Delgado rules for working hard, “…having good people and being dedicated to it and doing that consistency is really the most important thing.”

Wendy Ettinger reminds us to know our worth, “Whether you're a filmmaker or a funder or you work at the hardware store don’t underestimate the value of your worth to other people whether they be an artist your neighbor or anyone else….they are unbelievably interesting we just have to listen harder to each other right now.”

Wendy Lidell advice to the future distributor, “My credo has always been I find an audience for a film and not a film for an audience.”

Lisa Myers encouraged young females, “…Specifically to female filmmakers, stop saying you're sorry, stop apologizing all the time….appreciate that you deserve the same opportunities and you deserve to be in the room.”

Barbara Pokras addresses the panel. Photo by: Rob Belli

Barbara Pokras addresses the panel. Photo by: Rob Belli

Audiences members were encouraged to ask questions and share their own experience as women working in the industry.

Phyllis shared with us about her involvement in the New York Film Festival in 1963. She had decided to rent a 16mm camera when she discovered no shoulder braces could accommodate a women’s body, the shoulder brace went across her chest in a large X. She had to make her own brace to try and wear this camera during the festival. No one had seen a woman with a camera at that time.

The full panel discussion can be streamed here.

The Women in Film & Television Panel could not have been made possible without our partnership with Radio Kingston. Our thanks go out also to Hillary Harvey for creating the Women’s History Month Kingston events, and to Aaron Rezny for his beautiful space and hospitality.

Refreshments were provided by the T-Salon and Bread Alone.

Next special event in collaboration with Radio Kingston: Voices of Diversity in Film & Media, June 1st.

Photo by: Rob Belli

Photo by: Rob Belli

Four Session Seminar - Mapping the Movie in Your Mind

Woodstock Film Festival Presents
Spring 2019 Screenwriting Seminar

Mapping the Movie in Your Mind 

Taught by Screenwriter/Director Alex Smith 

Four 3-hour sessions over five weeks:
Tuesdays, April 30 - June 4 from 6:00PM-9:00PM
The Film Center, 13 Rock City Road, Woodstock, NY
Tuition: $260  - Click Here to Register

Are you haunted by a story?
One that won't let you go-- yet remains stuck in your head?
This intensive writing workshop will help you move the movie (or television show, limited series, webisode, etc.,) in your mind onto the page. A series of four distinct workshop sessions will help draw forth your idea– moving it from a FROZEN CONCEPT to a FLOWING STORY, inducing it, Athena-like, into a full-blown narrative.

By seminar’s end, each student will have generated a multi-dimensional map of the movie in their mind and will have fully ‘broken’ their idea from start-to-finish– and be primed to begin writing.


Alex Smith
 is a screenwriter, filmmaker & educator. He and his twin brother Andrew, premiered their latest feature film at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival. WALKING OUT stars Golden Globe winner Matt Bomer, Josh Wiggins, Bill Pullman, and Lily Gladstone. IFC Films distributed.

The Smith's also wrote, directed and produced WINTER IN THE BLOOD, a feature film based on the landmark James Welch novel. The film won numerous awards and was screened at the Woodstock Film Festival. Previously, they wrote and directed THE SLAUGHTER RULE, starring Ryan Gosling, David Morse and Amy Adams, which also premiered in Main Competition at Sundance.

Alex has, with his brother, written over 15 professional feature film scripts and television pilots, for companies including Amazon, HBO, Warner Brothers, Disney, Sony, & FX. They adapted the graphic novel, SON OF THE GUN by legendary cult filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky for Fox Searchlight. They also adapted the Pulitzer-Prize-winning Wallace Stegner novel REMEMBERING LAUGHTER for filmmaker Rodrigo Garcia. Alex has worked with Robert Redford, Jodie Foster, Lars Von Trier, Brian De Palma, David O. Russell and adapted Anton Chekhov’s THE DUEL for Terrence Malick. He is the recipient of many grants, fellowships and residencies and is a published writer of fiction.

Alex taught Screenwriting & Filmmaking at Columbia University and NYU/Tisch, as well as at the University of Texas, Austin, where he was the Creative Director of the University of Texas Film Institute. He has taught multiple Nicholl Fellowship and Black List screenwriters. He is a current mentor for the brand new Sundance Co//ab online program. He is a Michener Fellow, a Sundance Fellow, and a Rauschenberg Fellow. He is based in Woodstock, New York, where he is a resident at the Byrdcliffe Artist Colony.

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.

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