December 2006 Newsletter
AN UNREASONABLE MAN
As part of its commitment to its year round screenings, the Woodstock Film Festival recently presented, in association with IFC FIRST TAKE & RED ENVELOPE ENTERTAINMENT, the documentary An Unreasonable Man at the IFC Center in NYC. The film was recently named one of the 15 documentaries on the short list for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
With rare archival footage and over forty on-camera interviews conducted over the past two years, An Unreasonable Man traces the life and career of Ralph Nader, one of the most unique, important, and controversial political figures of the past half-century. The audience was treated to an in depth Q&A following the screening with filmmaker Henriette Mantel and film subject Ralph Nader.
Audience members included documentary filmmakers Leon Gast, Alex Gibney, Jem Cohen, Barbara Hammer, and Heidi Ewing, whose film JESUS CAMP has made the Academy's short list. Other participants included political activist Amy Goodman (Democracy Now) and political figure Mark Green. Conversations among filmmakers, industry members and politicos at the reception that followed stirred lively dialogues.
"We were thrilled to present this important documentary and to once again work closely with IFC FirstTake," said Woodstock Film Festival Co-Founder and Executive Director Meira Blaustein.
An Unreasonable Man will open in New York at the IFC Center on January 31, 2007.
Visit An Unreasonable Man for more detailed information, including opening dates and locations, nationwide.
Limited engagement starts
THE PAINTED VEIL
The Woodstock Film Festival, in association with Warner Independent Pictures, recently presented a special sneak preview of The Painted Veil at Upstate Films in Rhinebeck, NY, followed by a Q&A with film's screenwriter Ron Nyswaner (Philadelphia). The sold out room, which included Congressman Maurice Hinchey, screenwriter Zachary Sklar (JFK), film critics Thelma Adams (US Weekly) and Peter Bowen (Filmmaker magazine), was very much taken by the beauty of the film and the terrific writing.
In a note to LA Times film critic John Horn, Us Weekly Film Critic, Thelma Adams wrote:
The Woodstock Film Festival really got on the map in 2006 with incredible exposure including editorial coverage and a full page ad in Time Magazine, inserts in the Daily Freeman, TV ads courtesy of Time Warner Cable, and great word of mouth. Click here to read quotes about the recent festival. In addition, the organization was honored as Tourism Business of the Year by the Ulster County Development Corporation & the Ulster County Chamber of Commerce.
The festival is also thrilled to announce that it has received a grant from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in support of WFF's seminar series. The underlying purpose of the grant is to encourgae filmmakers, particularly those for whom a festival showing is a much needed opportunity for exposure from an audience. For a full list of U.S. film festivals that received grants for 2007, visit the Academy Foundation.
The festival was also honored to receive a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) to support its 2007 programming. This is the first time that WFF is the recipient of this prestigious grant, and everyone at the festival is grateful for the NEA's support and hopeful that it is the beginning of long lasting relationship. For additional info, visit NEA.
Independent Spirit Awards Nominations:
Ian on location in Nairobi Kenya.
Emmanuel is the smiling boy making
the thumbs down gesture.
LOCAL (& INTERNATIONAL) PRODUCTION
Saugerties cameraman (and long time WFF cinematographer/editor) Ian Ellerby recently returned from a 5-week shoot in Kenya where he was director of Photography on Rescuing Emmanuel. The documentary was mainly shot on the streets and surrounding slums of Nairobi but also in the more rural region surrounding Kisumu near Lake Victoria, where AIDS and Malaria are widespread.
The film was shot in HD and standard definition & at times with hidden surveillance cameras. Shooting was often tricky. Gang leaders needed to be satisfied & the right measures had been taken to allow much of the filming. Producer/director Len Morris has become quite adept at dealing with the logistics of street shooting & protecting crew.
Rescuing Emmanuel is a film about the effects of poverty on the world's children. Shot in Mexico, India, Brazil, Kenya and the U.S., it joins voices of Nobel Peace Laureates Desmond Tutu, Wangari Maathai, Elie Wiesel, Lech Walesa, and others with those of our most vulnerable children. Kids tell stories of being trafficked, enslaved, abused, abandoned, or simply hungry and forgotten.
The film asks moral leaders to suggest a plan of action and challenges us to do more than just look away. For a boy abandoned to the streets of Nairobi, Kenya, time is running out.
Woodstock Film Festival Advisory Board member Annie
Nocenti just returned from Baluchistan, where she shot
footage for a documentary on the resistance movement
In 1948, the independent state of Kalat, under duress, acceded to the newly created country of Pakistan. Since then, the Baluch have fought five insurgencies in an effort to secure the rights promised them by the British government and Pakistan in various treaties.
Shortly after the Pakistani military murdered the Baluch tribal leader Nawad Akbar Bugti in 2006, the present Khan of Kalat, Mir Suleiman Dawood Khan, called an all-Baluch tribal jirga, an event not seen in 136 years. Here the Khan polled Baluch leaders, activists, and students. The conclusion: the Baluch people would take their case for autonomy (and their treaties) to the International Court of Justice in The Hague. The documentary chronicles their journey.
To read Annie's recent Brooklyn Rail story on the doc, click here.
Nocenti is a screenwriter, photographer and
journalist whose work has appeared in Prison Life,
Filmmaker, Utne, The New York Times, High Times, Heeb,
Scenario and many other publications. She is a writer
and editor at large at Stop Smiling magazine
(stopsmilingonline.com). Her feature film script Patriotville, starring Justin Long, is in
A VIEW FROM THE SIDE
On October 22nd, WACBIZ Productions taped the pilot episode for A View from the Side, a 1-hour television show taped in front of a live studio audience, which combines elements of the Actors Studio and Behind the Music, in a casual setting with a host who has actually lived the life. For this initial episode musician and host Michael Visceglia welcomed special guest Tony Levin for a lively interview, performance and Q&A.
Levin, who has performed with an amazing assortment of musicians and bands including John Lennon, Pink Floyd, David Bowie, King Crimson, Sarah McLachlan and Peter Gabriel, gave insightful anecdotes from his storied career, demonstrated bass techniques, performed and answered audience questions.
A View from the Side was directed by Nahum Chiappa, and produced by Suzanne Hilleary, John Bongiorno and Danielle Reisigl at 721 Media Center in Kingston, New York. For more information, please contact Danielle Reisigl
COME EARLY MORNING
Ashley Judd stars in Come Early Morning, which screened at the 2006 Woodstock Film Festival. The film marks the writing and directing debut of Golden Globe-nominated actress Joey Lauren Adams'(The Break-Up, Chasing Amy). The story draws loosely on Adams' own experiences of growing up in the South, and is infused with an insider's knowledge of life in a small town. Come Early Morning tells the story of Lucy (Judd), a hard-working, Southern woman, whose personal life has been reduced to a spiral of late nights and one-night stands. When Lucy meets Cal (Jeffrey Donovan), a newcomer to town, she is finally forced to confront her fears as he challenges her accept a more meaningful relationship. Lucy must decide whether to push Cal away or face the demons that have left her incapable of intimacy and growth. She begins a spiritual journey toward love and redemption that takes her, and the film, to an entirely unexpected and original place.
Come Early Morning is a terrific accomplishment by [Joey Lauren] Adams -- a commendable first effort, making me hope that it's merely the beginning of a promising new aspect of her career as both a director and a writer. (Chicago Sun Times)
DAYS OF GLORY
This exquisite production tells the story of a group of North African soldiers who helped liberate France from Hitler's troops in World War II.
In 1949, most young North Africans had never stepped foot on French soil but because France was at war, Said, Abdelkader, Messaoud and Yassir enlisted in the French Army, along with 130,000 other "indigenous soldiers," to liberate the "fatherland" from the Nazi enemy. These heroes that history forgot won battles in Italy, Provence and the Vosges before finding themselves alone to defend an Alsatian village against a German battalion.
The story Bouchareb tells is something no classic has tackled before -- that of patriots fighting for a homeland that didn't treat them with égalité. (Lisa Schwarzbaum,
DANCE PARTY, USA
One of the indie hits of the 2006 Woodstock Film Festival, Dance Party, USA, is reaping critical acclaim during it's theatrical release. Aaron Katz's pitch perfect portrait of modern teen life is as simple as it is effective. Shot on a shoestring budget and boasting great performances from newcomers Anna Kavan and Cole Pensinger, Dance Party USA is an edgy little treasure worth exploring
Jeannette Catsoulis of the New York Times wrote, "A pair of disaffected 17-year-olds are nudged toward adulthood in a movie that favors natural drift over artificial drama."
"A beautifully rendered motion picture that's full of warmth, wit and wonder."
Michael Rechtshaffen (Hollywood Reporter)
This beautiful adaptation of the children's classic is directed by WFF alumni and InDigEnt co-founder Gary Winick (Personal Velocity, Pieces of April, Pizza, Lonesome Jim). Featured voices include 2005 Maverick Award Honoree Steve Buscemi as Templeton the Rat.
E.B. White's Charlotte's Web makes its second trip to the big screen this weekend, with the voices of such Hollywood heavyweights as Julia Roberts, Robert Redford, Steve Buscemi, and John Cleese.
The classic story of loyalty, trust, and sacrifice comes to life in this live-action adaptation. Fern (Dakota Fanning) is one of only two living beings who sees that Wilbur is a special animal as she raises him, the runt of the litter, into a terrific and radiant pig. As Wilbur moves into a new barn, he begins a second profound friendship with the most unlikely of creatures – a spider named Charlotte – and their bond inspires the animals around them to come together as a family. When the word gets out that Wilbur's days are numbered, it seems that only a miracle will save his life. A determined Charlotte – who sees miracles in the ordinary – spins words into her web in an effort to convince the farmer that Wilbur is "some pig" and worth saving. -- © DreamWorks
Purchase Little Miss Sunshine
LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE
WFF was delighted to sneak preview one of this year's cinderella hits on July 22 with a Q&A featuring producer Peter Saraf. If you missed it in theaters, order it now on DVD.
Little Miss Sunshine
tells the story of the Hoovers, one of the most endearingly fractured families ever seen on motion picture screens. Together, the motley six-member family treks from Albuquerque to the Little Miss Sunshine pageant in Redondo Beach, California, to fulfill the deepest wish of 7-year-old Olive, an ordinary little girl with big dreams. Along the way the family must deal with crushed dreams, heartbreak, and a broken-down VW bus, leading up to the surreal Little Miss Sunshine competition itself. On their travels through this bizarrely funny landscape, the Hoovers learn to trust and support each other along the path of life, no matter what the challenge.
Purchase Our Brand Is Crisis
OUR BRAND IS CRISIS
Tying for eleventh place on A.O Scott's top films list of the year is Rachel Boynton's Our Brand Is Crisis, which screened at the 2005 WFF and at a special 2006 co-presentation with WAMC Public Radio in Albany.
About Our Brand Is Crisis, A.O Scott wrote, "The rare left-wing documentary in which George Bush is not the villain. Exporting American-style democracy turns out to be nearly as perilous in Bolivia as it is in Iraq, and fraught with contradictions even when the exporters style themselves as progressives."
Purchase The Illusionist
In August, the Woodstock Film Festival in association with Yari Film Group Releasing, and Allied Advertising, was thrilled to host a special New York City sneak preview for The Illusionist.
Director Neil Burger, followed up Interview with an Assassin, which won best feature film at the 2002 Woodstock FIlm Festival, with what NPR's Bob Montello calls, ""Romantic, smart... gorgeous!"
The Illusionist stars Edward Norton and Paul Giamatti as two men pitted against each other in a battle of wits: Norton as mysterious stage magician Eisenheim, and Giamatti as Vienna's shrewd Chief Inspector Uhl, with Jessica Biel sharing the screen as the beautiful Sophie von Teschen. When word of Eisenheim's astounding illusions reaches the powerful and pragmatic Crown Prince Leopold (Rufus Sewell), the ruler attends one of the magician's shows in order to debunk Eisenheim during the performance. But when the Prince's intended, Sophie von Teschen, assists the magician onstage, Eisenheim and Sophie recognize each other from their childhoods and a dormant love affair is rekindled. As the clandestine romance continues, Uhl is charged by Leopold to intensify his efforts to expose Eisenheim, even while the magician gains a devoted and vocal public following. With Uhl doggedly searching for the reasons and the man behind the trickery, Eisenheim prepares to execute his greatest illusion yet.
Purchase The Architect
“A riveting urban drama.” – Aaron Hillis, Premiere Magazine
The Architect starring Anthony LaPaglia in the title role along with Isabella Rossellini and Viola Davis, is a harrowing and ultimately human story of two very different families. Leo Waters (Lapaglia) is an idealistic architect and patriarch of an affluent, suburban Chicago family. Tonya Neeley (Davis) is a pragmatic activist who is trying to keep her family together while living in one of the city's most drug and crime-infested public housing projects. As part of her ongoing campaign to have the projects torn down and decent housing built in its place, Tonya decides that the one signature she needs more than any other on her petition is that of the projects' original architect, Leo Waters.
FULL DISCLOSURE ON ITUNES
Full Disclosure, one of the great shorts from the 2006 Woodstock Film Festival CALICOMEDY program, is now online at iTunes where it has already cracked the Top 10 in sales for Short Films.
Check it out by clicking this link:
Other shorts that have played WFF, available on iTunes include Nick Childs' The Shovel, Bill Plympton's The Fan and the Flower, Cary Joji Fukunaga's Victoria Para Chino, and Stephen Marro's The Quality of Mercy.
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2006 was a busy year for 120dB Films. We saw several our of films premiere in theatres (The Great New Wonderful, Unknown, Sweetland and Dark Ride) to favorable reviews, in addition to Edmond, which was selected by Premiere Magazine as one of the top 20 films of the year. Happy Tree Friends, one of our dark favorites, is being broadcast widely in the U.S on G4 and MTV Europe. We closed on numerous financings during the year and our current projects include Cathy Randall’s Hey, Hey it’s Esther Blueburger which just wrapped in Australia starring Toni Collette and Keisha Castle-Hughes, Vanessa Parise’s Jack and Jill vs the World with Freddie Prince Jr. and Taryn Manning, Dana Brown’s new surf film Highwater, Heart of the Earth starring Catalino Sandino Moreno and Savage Grace featuring Julianne Moore. Our pipeline is extremely active with new projects coming in daily and we are optimistic about continued quality projects in 2007.
BAILEYS - The Original Irish Cream
Season's Greetings and Happy New Year.
A&E INDIE FILMS
A&E Indie Films ended the year on a high note with their production, Jesus Camp being short-listed for the Academy Award. Currently, their film American Teen by Nanette Burstein is in post production and Street Thief, which they acquired at the Tribeca Film Festival, is slated for air early next year. In addition, A&E Indie Films just green lit a film on the fashion industry's ultimate icon, Anna Wintour to be directed by RJ Cutler.
As the feature documentary production arm of A&E Networks, A&E IndieFilms is committed to developing the work of outstanding independent filmmakers and helping them reach the broadest possible audience. A&E IndieFilms acquires, commissions and provides finishing funds for feature documentaries in addition to co-branding select theatrical releases, including feature docs acquired for airing following their theatrical runs.
The Indiepix team really got around this year -- in person and via the World Wide Web. We also acquired some of our best-selling, most award-winning titles yet: Alex Karpovsky's unique Herzog-esque documentary The Hole Story (which got Alex featured as one of FILMMAKER MAGAZINE'S Top 25 Faces of Independent Film); Martha Pinson's lyrical short about street basketball, Don't Nobody Love the Game More Than Me (loved by director Sidney Lumet); Michael Tully and Damian Lahey's harrowing narrative Cocaine Angel (which premiered at Rotterdam); and Dominic De Joseph's SilverDocs hit Johnny Berlin. Along with working on a number of exciting projects for 2007, including an amped-up Woodstock in the City series, we have also revamped our website and our planning our festival circuit for 2007. No doubt, we'll see everyone at Woodstock again!
YEAR END APPEAL
In this season of holiday cheer, we hope you will again consider the many needs of the Festival as we continue to bring the world's best independent films and emerging talent to light and to present youth workshops, panels, and concerts. Other programs, including workshops, special events and a summer series will be presented in 2007. We also look forward to continued local film production opportunities thanks to the Hudson Valley Film Commission.
Your continued support will enable us to retain a year-round presence with staffing sufficient for all programs, including the Hudson Valley Film Commission, which worked with more than 40 production companies in 2006, including THE CAKE EATERS (directed by Mary Stuart Masterson) and STEPHANIE DALEY (starring Tilda Swinton and Tim Hutton). Work opportunities resulted in jobs and economic development for the community and filmmakers.
The Woodstock Film Festival is a nonprofit organization which presents an annual program and year-round schedule