Woodstock Film Fest notches two decades

WFF Co-Founder and Executive Director Meira Blaustein (photos by Dion Ogust)

It’s up. It’s running. The 20th Annual Woodstock Film Festival, still “fiercely independent,” is finally upon us all…and yes, there are still tickets left for some key films and events.

“Twenty years ago two starry-eyed filmmakers ventured upstate, intent on creating a festival where people from all over the world could gather at the foothills of the Catskill Mountains and unite in their shared passions for community and independent cinema,” wrote one of those starry-eyed filmmakers, WFF Co-Founder and Executive Director Meira Blaustein, in a blog post this past Monday during the hectic countdown to this year’s October 2 through 6 anniversary festival. “Two decades later, the Woodstock Film Festival continues its mission by showcasing the most cutting-edge works from the silver screen while serving as an incubator for upcoming talent and local filmmaking.”

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What to expect this year? Some instantly-recognizable celebrities, for certain, but also many behind-the-scenes indie film movers and shakers, as well as the sorts of up-and-coming talents you’ll want to be saying you-saw-back-when 20 years hence. Panel discussions, and ad hoc talk on the streets of Woodstock, Rhinebeck, Rosendale, Saugerties and Kingston, that touch on not only key issues rocking the entertainment world of late — including the MeToo phenomenon and aging stars — but also all that’s whirling the world these days. Plus loads of films, from new fiction works to cutting edge documentaries and shorts, you’re unlikely to see elsewhere.

“We live in a period of great uncertainty and unprecedented change, both for the medium of filmmaking and our planet itself. New communication technologies are disrupting industry gatekeepers, allowing creators to finance and deliver their films directly to their audiences without the need for a big studio or distributor. The advent of social media has created new opportunities for those with similar interests to both connect and segregate themselves from people they disagree with,” Blaustein continued in her Monday blog post. “Fearlessly tapping into the current zeitgeist, the diversity of year’s lineup serves as an artistic response to these unstable times. From documentaries centered around gun control and environmental activism to films that engender empathy for those existing on society’s margins, the Festival’s programming remains committed to pushing the boundaries of creative expression and social norms.”

Among some of the hidden highlights you can still catch seats for, if you try now…The Friday night world premiere of Jason Miller’s Not Not Jazz at the Bearsville Theatre, featuring a post-screening recital by drummer Billy Martin of Medeski Martin & Wood, the documentary’s subjects as we glimpse into the creative juice of a local recording session. An October 4 afternoon world premiere of the inspiring documentary about indigenous peoples journeying from Canada to South America in a plea for new unity, The Condor and the Eagle. Julia Kots’ first feature, Inez & Doug & Kira, premiering in Woodstock and Satugerties Saturday and Sunday afternoons. Paradise Without People, a premiere documentary following two Syrian refugees from their war-torn homes into Europe, having its world premiere in Rhinebeck and Woodstock on the afternoons of October 4 and 5. And then the already-stand-by-only “sneak preview” of A Night at Switch and Play, which not only showcases Brooklyn’s’ award-winning drag and burlesque collective, but will include live performances by the film’s stars after its screening… all at Colony Woodstock Friday night. 

For more information and whatever tickets are left for WFF events, visit woodstockfilmfestival.com or stop by the festival headquarters at 13 Rock City Road in Woodstock. 

And as Blaustein herself said… see you at the movies.

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