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Almanac Weekly | Stage & Screen
For reasons easily guessed, the Drama Club at New Paltz High School skipped its traditional fall-semester dramatic production in 2020. The 2021 spring musical – Sondheim’s Into the Woods – did go on, back in May, although the students had to project their acting and singing through clear plastic masks to reach a socially distanced audience.
If you’re not a fan of the science fiction genre, on the page or onscreen, you may feel a little baffled right now about why the arrival of Denis Villeneuve’s Dune: Part One is being hailed as such a big deal. There are people out there saying that they’ve been waiting for this movie all their lives — or since Frank Herbert’s novel Dune was published in 1965, whichever is more recent. Few works in the SF canon have been so profoundly influential — including on such filmmakers as George Lucas, whose Star Wars universe made free use of many of Herbert’s narrative and worldbuilding concepts.
The Denizen discovered the multitudinous talents of deaf actor Jennifer Delora, an Ulster County native whose four-decade career has taken many surprising twists and turns before bringing her back home again. Delora will star in the one-woman show Apples in Winter, Denizen’s first in-person indoor production since the pandemic hit, opening this Friday, October 22, and running until November 14.
Rosendale Theatre will present the independent film Brave Girls, directed by Ellie Walton and Yashaswi Desai, on Friday, October 22 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, October 24 at 2 p.m. The 71-minute documentary tells the story of three teenaged girls living in a small village in western India who get the chance to go to school and complete their tenth-grade exams.
After remarks by Congressman Antonio Delgado and state senator Michelle Hinchey, the Woodstock Film Festival announced the film, Mass directed by Fran Kranz as its Best Narrative Feature and Storm Lake, directed by Jerry Risius and Beth Levison as its Best Documentary Feature at its annual Jury award winners at a ceremony at the Woodstock Playhouse, Saturday, October 2.
The epic story of Leon Gast’s more than two-decade quest to get his film, When We Were Kings, the Oscar winning documentary of Muhammad Ali and George Foreman’s Heavyweight Championship bout in Zaire in 1974, made, will surely be recounted along with a showing of the film, as the Woodstock Film Festival presents a Special Tribute to Gast at 4:45 p.m. Friday October 1 at the Bearsville Theater.
Ever wonder what was happening with professional artists during that long stretch of time when we couldn’t, for safety’s sake, go out and see or hear their work in a public place? According to Alexandra Baer, director of Unison Arts in New Paltz, the work went on, even if it wasn’t generating any income. “Because of COVID, people were practicing their arts behind closed doors,” she says. “They were dancing in their living rooms, writing poetry in their closets, playing music in their basements.”
Like every other arts organization or venue that depends on the physical gathering of an audience in a common space, the Woodstock Film Festival was forced to reinvent itself last year. Most of the 100+ movies it presented in 2020 were streamed online (as were the panel discussions), but about 30 films could be seen on a big screen — in one of three local drive-in theaters.
The Woodstock Museum’s 22nd Annual Free Film Festival runs August 31-September 6. with a special emphasis this year on the COVID-19 pandemic and systemic racism in light of the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officers.