It’s a year of anniversaries in and for Woodstock. It’s a special one for the Woodstock Film Festival as it celebrates its 20th anniversary with a year round flurry of activities in anticipation of its actual October 2-October 6 outing — from screenwriting classes and staged readings to a variety of screenings and the WFF’s annual Taste of Woodstock event.
While the four session screenwriting Mapping The Movie in Your Mind seminar with Woodstock-based Alex Smith has sold out, this month will see a special screening at 2 p.m. Sunday afternoon, April 28, at Upstate Films Woodstock, of the concert documentary Amazing Grace, featuring Aretha Franklin with the choir of the New Bethel Baptist Church in Watts, Los Angeles in January 1972, with musician Simi Stone introducing the film.
In May, WFF will then present, in collaboration with the great group Actors & Writers, a staged reading of a new screenplay, Feeding Mrs. Moskowitz, by Barbara Pokras and Fran Pokras Yariv, based on the novella by Barbara Pokras. Directed by Shelley Wyant, the cast will include Lori Wilner, Dannah Chaifetz, Mikhail Horowitz, Joe White, Mark St Germain, Katherine Burger, Davis Hall, Mary Gallagher, Nina Shengold and Brian Macready from the Actors & Writers troupe.
The 7th annual Taste of Woodstock benefit for the film festival and Hudson Valley Film Commission will then run from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Wednesday, May 22, throughout Woodstock with a host of participating restaurants and food purveyors offering a full meal to roving revelers, a la carte as they wander the town’s landscape of eateries.
On May 30, Upstate Films will again be the location for another special screening, this time of writer/producer/director Nabwana Isaac Godfrey Geoffrey and producer/star Alan Ssali Hofmanis’ DIY commando film, Bad Black, from Wakaliwood, Uganda, home of “da best of da best movies” with Hofmanis on hand to introduce the latest martial arts work created by self-taught filmmakers for under $200.
The diversity of filmmaking these days will also be on view, and heard loud and clear, when the film festival hosts a special talk on “Diverse Voices in Film and Media” in collaboration with Radio Kingston at a location to be determined in Kingston (with on-air coverage) on Saturday, June 1, with a guest list to include award-winning documentarian Yoruba Richen of The Green Book: Guide to Freedom fame and Roger Ross Williams, the first African American director to win an Academy Award for his various short documentaries. Other participants will be announced in the coming weeks.
Coming up on June 14 will be a co-presentation of a solar-powered outdoor film screening with Oscillation Transia, which is currently touring the nation screening works in outdoor and rural areas around that explore both fictional and non-fictional themes of movement, nomadic living, adventure and the natural world. The location will be announced by Memorial Day.
Also back this year will be WFF Executive Director and co-founder Meira Blaustein’s beloved Summer Youth Film Lab, which she will lead July 8 through July 26 at the Center for Creative Education in midtown Kingston, alongside Megan Sperry, Professor of Digital Media Production at SUNY New Paltz, as an opportunity for Hudson Valley teenage students to “learn about the filmmaking process from film industry professionals.” Films produced by the 14 to 18 year-olds at the Lab will be shown at the 20th annual Woodstock Film Festival come October. Sign up now.
See woodstockfilmfestival.com for tickets for events and for more information on all the WFF has to offer this 20th year, including the big anniversary festival itself.