Alex Smith film screens at Upstate Woodstock

The Woodstock Film Festival will present a special screening of Woodstock-edited film Walking Out on Saturday, August 12 at 2 p.m. at Upstate Films Woodstock. Walking Out, which showed at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year, will be officially released this fall.

According to Woodstocker Alex Smith, who directed the film and adapted the screenplay along with his brother, Andrew Smith, “Walking Out is a labor of love — literally. It’s a film we’ve been working on for 30-some years, only in that we read the short story when we were teenagers. It’s based on a short story by a writer named David Quammen, who’s become a well-known science and nature writer. Something about the story just haunted us for a long time”

The film tells the story of a teenage boy from urban Texas who goes on a big game hunting trip with his estranged father in the mountains of Montana. Despite the boy’s reluctance, the two bond over what Smith called “an intense crucible conflict.” He added, “They really get to know each other deeply, and the boy also connects with the mountains and with himself, ultimately. It’s really the story of somebody in the information age who gains knowledge.”

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The setting of the story hits close to home for Smith, who grew up on a ranch in rural Montana. He dates his early interest in film back to visiting a movie set with his mother, a film and documentary maker, at age twelve. “[It] was a huge influence, seeing all these people working together creatively, sharing the same vision, and making something beautiful,” said Smith. He added that growing up without a television meant his family often went to nearby Missoula to watch arthouse films. “A lot of my moving images as a kid were movies, not TV, so I was really in love with film from an early age,” he said.

Walking Out is Alex and Andrew Smith’s third feature film. The brothers also wrote and directed The Slaughter Rule (2002) and Winter in the Blood (2012), which showed at the 2013 Woodstock Film Festival. Alex Smith, who also works as a fiction writer, describes film and his creative relationship with his poet brother Andrew as “sort of a nice confluence of our affinities.”

Smith, who first came to Woodstock in 2013 to attend the Film Festival’s screening of Winter in the Blood, has been living in Woodstock with his wife for two years. “I really fell in love with the area, the vibe. Having grown up in a place with four distinct seasons, and then having lived in Texas and California for most of my adult life, I was really missing the woods, I was missing the seasons, and I’d never lived on the east coast,” said Smith. Though Walking Out was shot in Montana over the course of two winters, most of the editing was done in Woodstock.

Smith is currently working on TV pilots, and finds Woodstock to be a creative space. “I’m a happy new resident,” he added.

Tickets for the August 12 screening of Walking Out can be purchased online at http://www.woodstockfilmfestival.com/events/walkingout.php or at the door.

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