Woodstock Film Festival returns for its 19th year

(Photo by Dion Ogust)

Woodstock Film Festival executive director and co-founder Meira Blaustein responded, when asked about Woodstock specifics for the upcoming 19th outing of the popular festival set to run Wednesday, October 10- Sunday, October 14, with a basic question. Why ask about such things when the festival’s bringing so many top films and film personalities to the Hudson Valley?

Good point, we acceded, what with nine world premieres, four North American premieres, one U.S. premiere, a dozen East Coast premieres, and eight New York premieres among the 100 plus screenings and dozens of star-studded panel discussions and special events arrayed over five days, not forgetting special awards being presented to legendary theater and film visionary Julie Taymor and award-winning documentary director Matthew Heineman, known for his eye-opening work on healthcare and opioid addiction crises.

And yet the WFF is also one of the highlights of the town’s cultural and social calendars.

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“The town should be absolutely buzzing,” Blaustein eventually admitted. “We’ve got so many people coming from all corners of the country, the world. And so many of those people will be coming with entourages.”

Lodging in Woodstock the weekend of the festival, Blaustein added, had been mostly booked for weeks already, even in the Airbnb realm…and including the newly-opened Woodstock Way. While many filmmakers get placed in private homes, it turns out a festival of Woodstock’s stature — a must-attend event for those in the independent side of the burgeoning film industry — is key to many calendars from the time one season closes and the next begins.

As for parties and dining choices for all those set to be in attendance the second weekend in October, there will be big events at Provisions and Santa Fe, and private parties booked around town by filmmakers and film companies.

“Book your dinner reservations now, it’s going to be very crowded in town,” Blaustein added. “We’re missing New World, where we’ve held big parties for years, but Ric Orlando will still be involved by attending and moderating one of our panels.”

As for screenings, panels and special events specifics, Blaustein referred to the fact that all films and events have been announced, with tickets on sale online.

Still from The Advocates, a look at the history and causes of the current homeless crisis in Los Angeles, that will screen at 11:15 a.m. Saturday, October 13 at the Bearsville Theater and at 5:30 p.m. Sunday, October 14 at Upstate Films in Rhinebeck.

More specifically, she touted the Virtual Reality Lounge that the WFF would again be sponsoring at the Center for Photography at Woodstock, including a Saturday, October 9 panel discussion on this field as the newest frontier for narrative and other means of film expression.

The Woodstock Film Festival is also stressing its youth filmmaking and educational components even more this year, including screenings of films by a number of Woodstock students, as well as graduates of the festival’s own youth lab.

“There will be a number of works that highlight the empowerment of kids,” she said. “We have a Power of Youth panel, and filmmaker kids coming in from Somalia and The Bronx, among many places…it’s all very inspiring, and the works are truly beautiful. It’s the direction we’re going in, reflective of all we want to do as a festival of mavericks.”

Finally, Meira Blaustein spoke about ways the local community can still get involved, beyond getting online or to the WFF box office immediately top buy fast-moving tickets and passes for the 19th Annual Woodstock Film Festival. Volunteers and donors are still needed, she said.

“Our interns are all in place, with a few returning from past years

Blaustein then passed on two quotes:

“I love the word ‘Maverick.’ It comes from the mid 19th century name of Samuel A. Maverick (1803–70), a Texas engineer and rancher who did not brand his cattle,” was the word from this year’s Maverick Award recipient, Julie Taymor. “Oh to roam the plains of unbranded cinema…It is an honor to be recognized by the Woodstock Film Festival for such a choice.”

And from this year’s most acclaimed actor, former Woodstock native and long-time WFF attendee Ethan Hawke, it all adds up to “A festival that isn’t trying to sell you anything, but simply and beautifully celebrating the art & craft of filmmaking.”


Taymor, Heineman to be celebrated

The Woodstock Film Festival is coming full of films that have been locally made, or wanting to show themselves to the conscientious audiences the maverick event’s become known for. There are panel discussions hitting on the political and contemporaneous as well as the nuts and bolts those seeking advancement towards their own cinematic dreams want and need; a plethora of hidden gems true cinephiles will want to catch before they become the stuff of legends.

What are the marquee items this season?

Tony, Emmy, Grammy winning and Oscar nominated filmmaker Julie Taymor, known for the splash she made with Broadway’s epic Lion King, will receive the honorary Maverick Award, and also be on hand for a special screening of Across The Universe, her 2007 Beatles-laden fantasia that keeps gaining critical raves as it ages.

Oscar nominated and Emmy award-winning director Matthew Heineman (Cartel Land, City of Ghosts, The Trade) will receive the Filmmaker Award of Distinction for this remarkable string of documentaries over the past decade, and see his first narrative feature, A Private War, close the film festival on the evening of Sunday, October 14 at Woodstock Playhouse, where the special screening of Across The Universe will take place at 11 a.m., also with a special audience Q&A session.

The two awards will be presented to Taymor and Heineman alongside various festival awards at the Woodstock Film Festival’s awards ceremony on the evening of Saturday, October 13 at BSP in Kingston, starting with a cocktail reception at 7:30 p.m.

For tickets for the sterling events, as well as the many festival gems and panels, stop by WFF offices at 13 Rock City Road in Woodstock or visit woodstockfilmfestival.com.

For more information on the 19th Annual Woodstock Film Festival, including passes and individual screening and event tickets, visit woodstockfilmfestival.org, call 845-810-0131 or visit the WFF box office at 13 Rock City Road in Woodstock

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