“Cosmopolitan” is the word Woodstock Film Festival Executive Director Meira Blaustein is using to describe the 18th outing of the annual event set to run from October 11 through 15th in Kingston, Rhinebeck, Rosendale, Saugerties and Woodstock, its center.
She listed Belgium, France, Greece, Italy, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom among the nations from which filmmakers would be arriving to attend. There’s to be a special ten work tribute to recent works of Dutch cinema, four world premieres, five North American premieres, one US premiere, 20 East Coast premieres and nine New York premieres, as well as spotlight focuses on LGBTQ films, music films, the works of 18 women filmmakers, and new cinema from right here in the Hudson Valley.
In fact, it’s the “synergy of mixing and matching” home-grown talents from around the area with the crème de la crème of American Independent and world cinema that’s always had her excited about what the WFF has built itself into.
Adding to the mix this year are some decidedly localized elements, though. Like a new Post New York Alliance lounge at the Center for Photography at Woodstock from Friday through Sunday, where the association of film and television post production facilities and labor unions will be while providing a public space for get-togethers with coffee and food; and a series of virtual reality “experiences” available for full festival pass holders at the WFF’s hospitality lounge at the Woodstock Artists Association and Museum just off the Village Green.
“We’ve got some great one on one panels taking place at the Kleinert/James Arts Center, where Griffin Dunne will be speaking with Susan Sarandon, our Maverick honoree this year; the rising journalist Logan Hill will talk with Rebecca Miller, and Ed Gerrard will be speaking with Shep Gordon, who’s getting the Trailblazer,” Blaustein added. “Our kickoff at the Woodstock Playhouse will be fantastic complete with an opera performance by Sarah Ann Miller, the New York premiere of the new musical Stuck, about six strangers trapped together in a stalled New York City subway car, and then a performance of numbers from the film by some of its cast members including the fabulous Giancarlo Esposito.”
Other highlights from the newly-released film schedule, now available online with the ticket box set to open this past Wednesday, include centerpiece films Last Flying Flag, a sequel to Hal Ashby’s The Last Detail written and directed by Richard Linklater, and this year’s Cannes Swedish Palm D’Or winner The Square, directed by Ruben Östlund, plus the closing night film Arthur Miller: Writer, intimately directed by the famous playwright’s daughter, Rebecca Miller.
Griffin Dunne will be on hand with his new documentary portrait of his aunt, Joan Didion. Other non-fiction works look at elements of the black middle class, current racial and political divides, the future of renewable energy now that our administration’s changed, the late Edie Wilson’s legal fight for marriage equality, a sister’s suicide and a woman’s journey to find her parentage through DNA, and many of the challenging feel-good works the festival’s come to specialize in.
Narrative works include the father-son tearjerker, J.K. Simmons’ starring in The Bachelor; Peter Fonda and Bill Pullman (who’s be on hand to receive an acting award) in The Ballad Of Lefty Brown; Bill Plympton’s new feature animation, Revengeance; Catherine Eaton’s haunting tale of a woman deciding not to talk, The Sounding; and Christopher Radcliff and Lauren Wolkstein’s locally-shot The Strange Ones.
There will be loads of short films set into deftly-themed programs, music videos available online, and plenty of teen filmmakers showcasing work, including students from the Woodstock Day School and Poughkeepsie-based Spark Media Project. A panel including Robert Redford’s son Jamie and noted journalists Bob Herbert and Sam Pollard will address what’s up with “The American Condition.” Producers and music professionals will talk about their work; Martha Frankel will interview Bill Pullman one-on-one. And the talented kids from the Paul Green Rock Academy will play the closing night gala and awards ceremony at Backstage Productions in Kingston, as usual.
“We’re chock full of eclectic events,” Blaustein said. “I think it’s going to be great.”
And yes, she added, it is important to book tickets for films and events now. Full passes are a great buy, she added. And yes, most area hotels, motels, bed and breakfasts, as well as Airbnbs, are booked already.
“It’s going to be crowded,” Blaustein concluded.
And truly cosmopolitan, as she said, as well.
For further information including a full listing and schedule of films and events, please visit www.woodstockfilmfestival.com, call 845-810-0131, or stop by the WFF box office at 13 Rock City Road in Woodstock.