WFF’s Youth Film Lab marks fifth year with free Kingston screening September 15
With summer drawing to a close, it’s time for Hudson Valley cinephiles to start getting excited about the return of the Woodstock Film Festival. It’ll be back for its 23rd year September 28 through October 2, at full blast after two years of being scaled back and partially virtual due to the COVID pandemic. For those who can’t stand to wait, there’s a free special event coming up at Kingston’s Old Dutch Church on Thursday, September 15 that’ll offer a taste of what the organization behind the Festival has been up to in our local communities in between annual extravaganzas.
Despite the challenging times for arts organizations, WFF has been in growth mode on many levels, as HV1 reported last winter (https://hudsonvalleyone.com/2022/02/25/expanding-post-covid-woodstock-film-festival-has-lots-in-store-for-2022). One forward-looking aspect of that expansion has been last year’s decision to turn the organization’s Kingston-based Youth Film Lab into a year-round program, with a dozen teenaged participants meeting to learn filmmaking skills twice monthly beginning in January, followed by a three-week intensive in July. The program is directed by Megan Sperry, professor of Digital Media Production at SUNY New Paltz and Ulster County Legislator for District 17 (Towns of New Paltz an Esopus), who calls the Youth Film Lab “a really great opportunity for local teens to learn about filmmaking from concept through distribution from industry professionals, while being mentored by instructors throughout the entire process.”
The September 15 event will celebrate the successful completion of the Youth Film Lab’s fifth year of offering these trainings to young people in the mid-Hudson for free, with a Showcase screening of six short films made by participants from their own original stories over the course of the program’s history. The first four spotlighted films are narratives, several of them touching on themes of social disorientation that reflect the realities of young people’s lives during pandemic times. The two made this past summer are documentaries about efforts to change Kingston’s status as a “food desert” and the organizing of the city’s recent Banned Book Fair.
The newer entries illustrate how a full-year program is making it possible for these students to undertake more ambitious projects involving multiple shoots at many locations with a broader cast of participants. Spotting familiar locations is half the fun of watching these shorts, with the murals and other public art brought to Kingston by the 0+ Festival supplying vivid, eyecatching backdrops for many of the scenes.
The screening, which runs about 35 minutes, will be followed by a live question-and-answer session. Films scheduled to be shown in the program include Mirror Mirror (2018, narrative) by Zoë Francis Harvey, Jacob Internicola, Sophie Kimok Malkine; The Second (2019, narrative) by Zoë Francis Harvey, Ashe Lee, Noah Fishman, Vincent Stella and Quin Cummins-Lun; Isolation (2019, narrative) by Isabel Cordero; Rainbow after Rain (2021, narrative) by Ellie Meyer; Hunger in the Hudson(2022, documentary) by Wallace Wallace, Shea Delisio, Samuel Taylor, Hannari-Elizabeth Kiluba and Nora Jane Lewis-Bray; Paperback (2022, documentary) by Ollie Weidemann, Grace Woodcock, Treme Rose, Hudson Rowan and Jackson Cutrone.
The Youth Film Lab Showcase begins at 7 p.m. on Thursday, September 15 at the Old Dutch Church, located at 272 Wall Street in Kingston’s Stockade District. Admission is free. A recap of the 2022 summer program can be viewed at www.youtube.com/watch?v=Md4GYVcIbVo.