Woodstock Film Fest presents three indies and a concert for the season

Joe Cocker

Woodstockers will have the opportunity to experience the Woodstock Film Festival’s first-ever summer screening series. Starting Saturday, July 8 and continuing through the month, the Film Festival will be screening independent films Saturday evenings at Upstate Films on Tinker Street. The series will culminate in a benefit concert for the Festival by the Paul Green Rock Academy on Saturday, July 29 at The Lodge.

“I have always wanted to do a screening series,” said Meira Blaustein, cofounder and executive director of the Film Festival. “I just thought that there are so many great filmmakers and films out there that we want to support and bring into our community.”

The first film screening, to be held at 9 p.m. Saturday, July 8 at Upstate Films Woodstock (the former Tinker Street Cinema, at 132 Tinker Street) is Joe Cocker: Mad Dog With Soul, a soon-to-be released documentary about the legendary musician. The screening will be followed by a Q&A with director John Edginton and  Michael Lang, of Woodstock, co-creator of the Woodstock ’69 Festival and former manager of Joe Cocker. “It’s a great film, it’s a music film, it’s a Joe Cocker film — it’s very Woodstock,” said Blaustein.


The second screening, at 2 p.m. Saturday, July 15 at Upstate Films Woodstock, is Story of a Girl. Based on Sara Zarr’s novel of the same title, the film follows a young woman’s quest to overcome her past. Actress Kyra Sedgwick, who directed the film, will attend the screening and host a Q&A following the film, along with film editor and Film Festival advisor Sabine Hoffman. “I really wanted to be supportive of Kyra Sedgwick because it’s her first directorial film. I’ve learned also that no matter how famous you are as an actor, it’s still very hard for a woman to be a director. It’s just completely different,” Blaustein noted.

The third and final screening, at 2 p.m. Saturday, July 22 at Upstate Films Woodstock, is Strange Weather. The drama, set in the South, chronicles loss and vengeance while painting a powerful portrait of female friendship. Director Katherine Dieckmann, who is also a film professor at Columbia University, will host a Q&A following the screening. Her film Motherhood, starring Uma Thurman, was screened at the 2009 Woodstock Film Festival.

Closing the summer screening series will be a benefit concert by the Paul Green Rock Academy at The Lodge, 20 Country Club Lane, Woodstock, on Saturday, July 29. Doors will open at 6 p.m., and the show will begin at 6:30 p.m. According to Blaustein, Paul Green of the Paul Green Rock Academy has long been a close friend of the Festival. The benefit will be part of a series of concerts by the Rock Academy called the Giving Back Concert Series, which takes place throughout the month of July and will benefit causes such as the ACLU and Maddie’s Mark Foundation, in addition to the Film Festival.


Shep Gordon named Trailblazer

In other Film Festival news, Blaustein announced that the Trailblazer Award, which is presented annually to an innovator in the film industry, will be awarded during the October 11-15 Woodstock Film Festival to music manager and film producer Shep Gordon. “Shep is amazing. He’s one of the most empowering and inspiring people out there, in film, in music, in spirituality, and in the world of food,” said Blaustein. “He gave a lot of people their start, he mentored a lot of people, and he really blazed a trail in film, music, and food industries.” Gordon will attend the Festival in October to receive the award.

Blaustein said, “I want our community to be exposed to these works, all independent film works, by very interesting filmmakers who they’ll have a chance to meet and have conversation with and support.” In addition to the Festival’s goal of bringing independently produced film to the Woodstock community, Blaustein added, “It’s part of my mission to be supportive of women directors. I’m so happy that two out of three films are made by women directors.”

Tickets for the Woodstock Film Festival’s summer screening series can be purchased in advance online at www.woodstockfilmfestival.com, or at the door. Tickets for the Paul Green Rock Academy’s Giving Back Concert can be purchased at the door for $10 at The Lodge, located at 20 Country Club Lane in Woodstock. All proceeds to benefit the Woodstock Film Festival.