Woodstock Museum Film Fest takes on a roiling world

A scene from My Golden Rule.

Every year since 2000, Nathan Koenig and Shelli Lipton of the Woodstock Museum have come up with a theme under which to put out a call for issues-oriented works for their annual free film festival, which will again be running over the Labor Day weekend starting Friday evening, August 31, at 7 p.m.

“Impact occurs when something comes to a pass and there are several ways of direction facing one,” Lipton said of the theme in this year of roiling tweetstorms, contentious midterm elections, and uncivil partisanship. “With impact comes drama.”

“And hopefully change for the better,” chimes in Koenig, who noted how the theme is meant to incite filmmakers and organize works around contemporary issues, as well as highlight the currency of what Koenig and Lipton have designed their festival to do.


It all takes place at the couple’s home compound in West Saugerties, at 13 Charles Bach Road, within two air-conditioned indoor theaters, plus several tents and under-the-stars sites. There’s a campfire, nightly music performances and jams, and plenty of food on hand…as well as sites for those wishing to camp and partake of a full “Woodstock-style” film festival experience just as summer comes to a close.

Screenings start off Friday night at 7 p.m. with 1st Day & Next Minute, an animated adventureinto a person’s zone of desires;” The Silent Glow-Recovering the Present, a feature documentary on how mindfulness training changes young lives; and Tapferkeit, a narrative short where two antagonists find themselves the sole survivors of a battle.

Saturday’s program again starts at 7 p.m. with Still I Rise, a visualization of Maya Angelou’s poem; Enough White Teacups, a glimpse into sustainable living principles; One, in which a police altercation gets a re-do; the psychological exploration Escaping Stars; and At the Park By the Creek, which plays off the dangerous realities of those who slip into drug dealing. Sunday evening will see a program that includes Work, in which a young mom questions her choices raising a daughter on a farm; Standing Rock Take Me From the River, a look back at the recent environmental action; an art video and song dedicated to refugee children called Malka; Scenes from a Visit, exploring an aging dad’s artistry and conversation; and The Best of All Worlds, a true story of a child’s life with a heroin-addicted mother.  

On Labor Day Monday itself, September 3, the films start unspooling at noon with School Me, about a college for prisoners; 21 years — A Folded Flag, a son’s look into his father’s Vietnam experience; the fictional My Golden Rule about a spirited woman, her banjo, and a portal from a post-apocalyptic world; Major “Doc” Brown, about the Bataan Death March’s last survivor; an animated exploration of natural cycles of exchange between humans and animals (Look); Superhouse; about one of the most energy efficient homes in the world; It’s the Dystopian Future, a theoretical jaunt into possible futures; native Peruvian thoughts about lakes in Mama Qota; and a look into the opioid crisis in a Catskills town called Smacked! Addiction & Recovery in Rural America. 

In addition, there will be a special live Friday night presentation, Sparrow Meets Dr. Worraps, in which a local poet talks to himself as two personalities. 

“We had over 200 submissions, again from all over,” Koenig added. “We only chose those works we all loved.”

He said the process of deciding what would screen included the rejection of several Hollywood-style films that didn’t have the passion the festival’s long promoted.

“We want films and events that teach us how to move forward,” Lipton added.

For a full listing of events at the Free Woodstock Film Festival at the Woodstock Museum,13 Bach Road, Saugerties this weekend, see WoodstockMuseum.org or call (845) 246-0600. Everyone’s urged to bring musical instruments. And a will for political activism.