Coming soon to theaters near you, if you live in the vicinity of Woodstock, Saugerties or Rosendale: the 23rd annual Woodstock Film Festival, happening Wednesday, September 28 through Sunday, October 2. That means that it’s time to peruse the schedule, pick what movies you most want to see and order tickets before they sell out. You can download the “schedule at a glance,” learn more about the myriad offerings and purchase your tickets at https://woodstockfilmfestival.org/tickets.
The challenge, of course, is deciding what to go see. Films by well-known directors or starring celebrity actors tend to sell out quickly, but they are also the ones you’re mostly likely to get another shot at, when they go into general release in cinemas or via cable TV or streaming platforms. Film festivals are great places to get exposed to less commercial, more ephemerally available products, such as shorts, art films and documentaries — and that goes double for WFF, with its emphasis on the “Fiercely Independent.”
One way to approach this dilemma is to pick a theme: You might try to see all the music films, or all the feminist docs, or all the fiction features made by Third World directors. As a publication serving a readership living mainly in the mid-Hudson, we at HV1 love to boost the region’s expanding appeal in recent years as a place to shoot movies. So, this week we’ll be shining a spotlight on movies that were either made locally or have principal creatives who live in our region. It’s as good a criterion as any for choosing what movies to see at the Festival.
Friday, September 30, 4:30 p.m., Rosendale Theatre
Saturday, October 1, 3:45 p.m., Tinker Street Cinema
Directed by SUNY New Paltz alumna Sylvia Caminer, this psychological thriller tells the story of an aspiring actress (Dani Barker) who seeks fame by posting videos on social media of her kinky roleplay encounters, only to meet a charming screenwriter who’s seeking to cast the female lead for his movie that just might have a deadly ending. The feature will have its New York premiere at WFF.
Filming locations for Follow Her included nine days at the Barn on the Pond in Saugerties (the main location for the scary final standoff); two days in Zena Cornfield and the woods behind a private residence in Woodstock; and a day-and-a-half at Rough Draft Bar & Books and the adjoining streets in Kingston. The Best Western Plus in Kingston served as both a filming location and cast housing, and artwork by Kingston artist Scott Ackerman is prominently featured.
Saturday, October 1, 10:30 a.m., Woodstock Playhouse
Sunday, October 2, 7:45 p.m., Rosendale Theatre
Directed by Colin West, Linoleum was shot entirely in Kingston. It stars popular stand-up comic Jim Gaffigan as the host of a failing children’s science show whose marriage is also falling apart. While attempting to fulfill his childhood dream of becoming an astronaut by building a rocket ship in his garage, a series of strange, scientifically inexplicable events cause him to question his day-to-day reality, as well as his life’s history, past and future, as both a father and a son.
Sixty Miles North
Thursday, September 29, 2:15 p.m., Tinker Street Cinema
Friday, September 30, 7:30 p.m., Rosendale Theater
Directed by and starring Edward Crawford and having its world premiere at WFF, Sixty Miles North is an autobiographical narrative set in the Hudson Valley; the movie poster shows a Metro North Hudson Line train passing through the Hudson Highlands. A bitter and frustrated actor and survivor of a severe case of neurological Lyme disease loses the gig of a lifetime: hosting the game show Cash Cab. Forced to move back into his childhood home, he must choose between continuing to pursue his dream or working a job he doesn’t want. He is empowered when he meets Wild Fall, an agoraphobic now living in his old bedroom.
Saturday, October 1, 12:45 p.m., Tinker Street Cinema
Sunday, October 2, 4:45 p.m., Rosendale Theatre
Jamie Sisley’s narrative feature concerns two brothers who sidetrack their futures to help their prescription drug-addicted single mother, who must choose between losing her sons or going to rehab. Superbly acted and based on the filmmaker’s adolescence, Stay Awake is a personal exploration of the roller coaster families ride while trying to help their loved ones battle opioid addiction.
Wednesday, September 28, 6:30 p.m., Woodstock Playhouse
Directed by Jeff Hutchens and Derek Goldman, Remember This is the film adaptation of a one-man stage play that Hudson Valley resident David Strathairn has been taking on tour across the U.S. Strathairn seamlessly plays all the characters while telling the moving story of Jan Karski, a courier for the Polish underground during the Nazi Holocaust. Karski eventually brings word of the conditions in the concentration camps to the office of FDR himself.
Dead for a Dollar
Saturday, October 1, 9 p.m., Tinker Street Cinema
Hudson Valley resident Willem Dafoe co-stars with Christoph Waltz and Rachel Brosnahan in Walter Hill’s Western yarn, Dead for a Dollar. A famed bounty hunter runs into his sworn enemy, a professional gambler and outlaw whom he had sent to prison years before, while on a mission to find and return the wife of a successful businessman who is being held hostage in Mexico.
Cine-Symphony Planet Earth
Thursday, September 29, 1:45 p.m., Bearsville Theater
From a locally based producer, Dyan Machan, and composer, Johan A. De Meij, and directed by Jed Charles Parker, Cine-Symphony Planet Earth is having its New York premiere at WFF. This emotional yet uplifting film was created to sync with an existing symphony, written by De Meij as a sequel to Gustav Holst’s The Planets. Hence, the contemporary/classical score is a star, along with a Gaia character. Told without dialogue, the story tracks our planet’s history from creation to when humans came around and messed it up. Luckily, Gaia saves the day.
Living in Delusionville
Sunday, October 2, 1 p.m., Tinker Street Cinema
WFF presents the East Coast premiere of Living in Delusionville, Constant van Hoeven’s documentary about Ron English, the “Godfather of Street Art,” who’s currently based in the Hudson Valley. English is known for his subversive visual style that takes classic American iconography and twists it into works of haunting psychedelic beauty. Now more than ever, radical artists are needed to fight against oppressive governments and corporate greed. This film portrays a man dedicated to getting people to rethink the images and ideas that they have been indoctrinated with since birth.
The Quiet Epidemic
Friday, September 30, 3:45 p.m., Tinker Street Cinema
Saturday, October 1, 2:30 p.m., Rosendale Theater
WFF presents the New York premiere of a documentary by two Lyme disease survivors, Lindsay Keys and Winslow Crane-Murdoch, about a chronic illness said not to exist, but all too familiar to Hudson Valley residents. Their quest for answers leads to a paper trail of suppressed scientific research and buried documents that reveal why tickborne diseases have been allowed to spread quietly around the globe. Following Julia, a wheelchair-bound teenager taken ill three years before filming, and Neil, a Harvard trained oncologist who turns to Lyme disease research after his own misdiagnosis, the film embarks on an emotional yet scientific journey towards understanding chronic Lyme disease. The film features interviews with doctors based in Hyde Park and Pawling, as well as experts at the Cary Institute for Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook.
Thursday, September 29, 10:45 a.m., Woodstock Playhouse
This June, the Supreme Court overturned Roe versus Wade, ending 50 years of constitutional protections for abortion in the US. How have we arrived here, when seven in ten Americans support access to legal abortion? Directed by Woodstocker Cynthia Lowen, Battleground follows three women who lead formidable antichoice organizations in their single-minded quest to overturn Roe v. Wade, as they face down forces equally determined to safeguard women’s access to safe and legal abortions. The documentary gets inside the anti-abortion movement as never seen before, with many surprises.
Sunday, October 2, 10 a.m., Woodstock Community Center
WFF will present a full program of documentary shorts produced by HUDSY, a collective producing community-inspired TV and the first streaming video app for the Hudson Valley:
MoveMe: Livia Vanaver
This HUDSY original directed by Jesse Brown takes a deep dive into the creative process of Livia Vanaver, co-founder, co-artistic director and choreographer of the Vanaver Caravan, which performs original, world-infused choreography and music both locally and internationally.
In this HUDSY original directed by Angel Gates Fonseca, watch as one person overcomes the overwhelming adversities that come with a rare syndrome — born with no legs, webbed hands and a life expectancy of two years. From a foundation of strong love from adoptive parents, she pushes past every obstacle, but now faces a new hurdle, coming out as transgender and introducing her parents to the person she really wants to be accepted as: Stella Rose.
This Organic Life: Gopal Farm
Directed by Joey Carey, this HUDSY original follows Wen-Jay Ying as she guides us on a fun and engaging journey to learn about regenerative food production, soil health, sustainable practices and the health benefits of eating local. Wen-Jay visits Gopal Farm where a focus on growing heirloom Indian specialties allows them to supply traditional foods to the immigrant population and learn more about the relationship between cows and the land.