December 2007 Newsletter




Coming Soon: SUNDANCE PREVIEW & Meira's Poughkeepsie Journal Blog from Park City


2007 was a very good year for the Woodstock Film Festival and we want to thank all those who made it so special and intimate–staffers, board members, contributors, sponsors, volunteers, friends, filmmakers and of course film lovers and attendees.

We also want to take time to remember and cherish the memories of filmmakers, friends and family who passed away in 2007. We will always remember film masters Ingmar Bergman and Michelangelo Antonioni for inspiring us with their magic flickers of light–their poetry, stories and genius. Their children will always remain with us...The Seventh Seal, Personna, Cries and Whispers, Fanny & Alexander... L'Avventura, Blowup.

We'll miss WFF friends including editor-extraordinaire James Lyons, who showed his humanity in his smile and every splice he cut for films like Far From Heaven and The Virgin Suicides. And producer, director and writer St. Claire Bourne, who shared his passion with us in 2001 when he joined us following the 9/11 tragedies to discuss films and social responsibility.

As School of Visual Arts 'film school' alumni, we were particularly sad to hear about the passing of Silas Rhodes. What began as The Cartoonists and Illustrators School in 1947, is now one of the nation’s most important colleges for art and design. In 1985, Meira started her first film festival venture –APERTURE– with Silas. It never materialized but led the path for SVA's Dusty Film & Animation Festival, and Meira to WFF.

Most of all, we will remember our beloved son Julian, who remains in our thoughts and hearts as an eternal inspiration and a model for compassion, perseverance and love. When we attended his memorial in June at the Discovery Center, we were shocked and frightened that maybe they had set up too many chairs, but when hundreds showed up to pay their respects and express their admiration for Julian's strength and kindness, our hearts melted. When the 10 a.m. screening of For Love of Julian sold out at the October WFF screening, we understood that Julian's message had been heard– appreciate what you have and make of life what you can.

We wish you all a very happy holiday season and hope that 2008 will bring you all peace, love and happiness.

Meira Blaustein and Laurent Rejto

Click photo to play trailer


Directors Phil Donahue and Ellen Spiro in Eddie Vedder's studio
photo credit: Bernadine Colish


Phil Donahue and Ellen Spiro to appear at WFF screening of BODY OF WAR

The Woodstock Film Festival announced the launch of its 2008 Year Round Screening Program today with Phil Donahue and Ellen Spiro’s new award winning Iraq war documentary BODY OF WAR.

The screening will take place Saturday January 12th, 2 pm, at the Tinker Street Cinema in Woodstock, with a snow date for Sunday January 13th. Donahue and Spiro are scheduled to be on hand for a Q&A immediately following.

“We are thrilled to be showing BODY OF WAR in Woodstock,” said Phil Donahue and Ellen Spiro.

BODY OF WAR is an intimate and transformational feature documentary about the true face of war today. Meet Tomas Young, 25 years old, paralyzed from a bullet to his spine after serving in Iraq for less than a week. BODY OF WAR is his coming home story as he evolves into a new person, dealing with his disability and finding his own unique and passionate voice against the war. It is a nakedly honest portrayal of what it is like inside the body, heart and soul of this extraordinary and heroic young man.

The film is produced and directed by Phil Donahue and Ellen Spiro (TROOP 1500). Two original songs were written for the film by musician Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam fame. Two Woodstock filmmakers were very involved in the project. DeeDee Halleck acted as the film’s consultant and Bernadine Colish was the film editor.

A special reception hosted by Oriole 9 at the restaurant will follow the screening and Q&A. For tickets visit

To sponsor upcoming year round events, contact




Local WGA members and supporters at a
recent meeting at Muddy Cup in Kingston


by Daniel Blaustein Rejto

Several weeks ago I noticed that my favorite television shows were airing season finales earlier than usual. I was also confused. Why was this happening? Then I realized what should have been obvious — this was one of the many effects of the nationwide Writer’s Guild of America (WGA) strike against the Alliance Of Motion Picture & Television Producers (AMPTP). Even those who don’t watch tv or movies can’t ignore the strike as it affects many of our local friends who are temporarily out of work. 

The primary reason for the strike was that screenwriters feel that they deserve a larger share of any revenue that results from internet programming of their films or television programs. Currently, performers, screenwriters and the rest of the off-camera crew receive payments for television screenings of their movies (writers receive 2.5% of this revenue) as well as reruns of TV programs they worked on. These payments are called residuals in the entertainment business and the current strike will determine if these residuals will be paid to screenwriters when online viewers stream or download their works.

When asked about the local effect of the strike, Nina Shengold, local WGA member and author of the recently optioned novel Clearcut told me, “There are many screenwriters living in the Hudson Valley and we're all affected by the strike…Since I'm currently making my living as a magazine writer and novelist, the only WGA income I get is from residual payments.  So this is a very big issue for me, and for many other writers who freelance in many genres.

Shengold was recently involved with two meetings that local WGA strike captain Casey Kurtti organized of union members at the Monkey Joe's and Keegan Ales in Kingston. “Our goal was to put a human face on the strike in the local media and affiliate ourselves with other local unions and the labor movement,” says Shengold. Were the meetings successful? Absolutely; local members of the Teamsters, Teacher’s Union, Screen Actors Guild and Hudson Valley Labor Federation all showed their support at the meetings as did many students and other supporters. Additionally, the gatherings were covered in local papers.

Not only did the meetings demonstrate amazing local support for strikers, but they also brought the writers together. Screenwriter/novelist Kim Wozencraft –whose screenplay adaptation of her own novel Wanted has been postponed by the strike– commented by saying, “Writing can be an isolating and lonely pursuit, and I’ve found myself communicating with my fellow WGA members much more frequently. That’s been great but I just wish the circumstances were different.”

If you’d like to support the striking writers, there are a number of things you can do. Casey Kurtti has postcards that supporters can sign and send to media executives. There is also a larger demonstration planned to take place in Poughkeepsie in January, which all supporters are asked to attend. For more information about the strike and what you can do to make a difference, visit or

Graphic: ©2007 Pecos Pictures / In "Big Fun With Global Warming," Stinky proclaims that global warming is "a bunch of hooey!"


Kingston, NY -- Pecos Pictures, a small animation and video production company based in New York's Hudson River Valley, won the 2007 National Public Service Announcement/Broadband Emmy® Award for "Big Fun with Global Warming." This cartoon was one of two Stinky Toons licensed to the Sierra Club website by Pecos Pictures. The National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences awarded the Emmy at its "Humanitarian, Public and Community Service Emmy Awards" ceremony on Nov. 9 in New York City.

Big Fun features a skeptic named Stinky. He has serious doubts about the whole idea of Global Warming. Until the impact of carbon pollution hits home with him -- literally. "It's classic Bugs Bunny-type, drop the anvil on 'em humor --updated for the age of Global Warming," said the cartoon's creator, Kingston resident Mark Greene. He adds, "Humor is a great way to make the science behind climate change more accessible and memorable."

The second Stinky Toon licensed to the Sierra Club site is entitled "Stinky Gets Gas," taking a humorous look at the cars we drive and the gas they guzzle. Both cartoons are 90 seconds in length, and can be viewed at


Last we talked to local filmmaker, and p/t WFF staffer Jeff Economy, he was scurrying under houses in Atlanta for A&E's FLIP THIS HOUSE to capture leaky plumbing and debilitated foundations. He's moved on. We caught up with him last week in Saugerties and asked him about his new production work for A&E's series THE FIRST 48™....

"Like anything in this business, it was probably equal parts timing and persistence," recalls Economy. "I'd actually interviewed for the gig before landing the "Flip This House," I got the flip callback first. I had a great time in Atlanta, but after a year of it I was ready for a change, so when I heard First 48 was looking for producers to start work in a city where they'd never shot in before, I jumped at the opportunity."

The series, which airs on A&E, follows homicide detectives. The clock starts ticking the moment they are called. Their chance of solving a case is cut in half if they don't get a lead in THE FIRST 48™. As producer/shooters, Economy and his partner Xackery Irving are two small one-man bands. They are on call 24/7, so whenever a call comes in that there's been a homicide, they meet the detectives at the crime scene, any time of day or night, then tape every step of the investigation verité style, as it happens.

"That means shooting everything from interviews and interrogations," adds Economy. "to riding along on the execution of search warrants and even the apprehension of suspects."

As producers, they're responsible for catching everything -- when something significant happens, there's no second chance at capturing it on tape. It's an enormous amount of responsibility. Moreover, the two producers have been given unusually privileged access to the inner workings of the police department's homicide squad, so they have to be extremely discreet about their every action.

"Who we film, how we film them, especially in the case of the families and friends of the deceased, it all has to be done with the utmost respect," says Economy.

Though sometimes lumped into the "reality tv" bin, the show is aligned with true documentary cinema verité more than almost any other show on TV, so despite the crazy hours, sleep deprivation and having to be away from home for months on end, Economy says the experience is well worth it.

Meira Blaustein, Barry Cherwin, Dr. Alan Chartok, Mike Camoin & Henry Slattery (photo by Matt Keough)


Woodstock Film Festival and Hudson Valley Film Commission co-founder and executive director Meira Blaustein was recently honored at the Upstate Independents Annual Gala with the VN Spirit Award for her continued support for filmmaking in New York's Upstate region. Other honorees included Dr. Alan Chartock, President and CEO of WAMC/Northeast Public Radio.

Filmmakers and media representatives from around the Capital region gathered for the gala and auction (conducted by Barry Cherwin Auctioneers) at Schenectady's new performance and multimedia space, the GE Theatre at Proctors.

Formed more than 10 years ago, Upstate Independents is an organization of local filmmakers who regularly screen each other's work and collaborate on a wide variety of productions. It is a resource for aspiring young talent and established filmmakers. For more information, visit Upstate Independents


December 20 at 7pm, WAMC Northeast Public Radio will present BLACK IRISH, a gripping coming-of-age drama. The story chronicles the trials and tribulations of 15 year-old Cole McKay (Michael Angarano), an obedient son who yearns for the attentions of his emotionally remote father (Brendan Gleeson). Cole is by turns nurtured and abandoned by the rest of his family; his unwed and pregnant sister Kathleen (Emily VanCamp), troubled older brother Jack (Tom Guiry), and rigid and religious mother Margaret (Melissa Leo). The tale unfolds in a skillful interweaving of character arcs that builds towards a heart-wrenching climax. Written and directed by Brad Gann, BLACK IRISH is his directorial debut following his screenplay for Walt Disney Pictures' "Invincible," starring Mark Wahlberg and Greg Kinnear.

Note: The film will be followed by a Q & A with actor Melissa Leo. Leo is well known for playing the tough-minded shift-Detective Kay Howard on the award-winning TV series Homicide: Life on the Street from 1993–1997. She has also been a regular on All My Children and The Young Riders. She has appeared in many feature films including Racing Daylight, The House is Burning, The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada and the upcoming Frozen River. For tickets, visit The Linda

For info about upcoming rambles and other Levon Helm news, visit

By Sandy Tomcho and Steve Israel
Times Herald-Record (click here for entire article)
December 06, 2007

Woodstock-based former Band drummer and vocalist Levon Helm was nominated for Best Traditional Folk Album.... For Helm, the nomination of DIRT FARMER caps a remarkable comeback.

Just a few years ago, he feared he’d never make another album. He thought he’d lost his voice to cancer; that it would be replaced by a mechanical box. But after 28 radiation treatments in New York City, the earthen voice started to emerge. As it grew stronger, his daughter Amy - who’d driven him to those treatments - suggested he record the songs he had grown up with; songs he sang to Amy as a little girl. He recorded that album with Amy, who sings on it and helped produce it.

“It’s a wonderful, wonderful feeling,” he said today, just after he heard the news from guitarist Larry Campbell who also helped produce “Dirt Farmer.” “It’s so exciting for all of us around here, a real team effort.”

The news was so fresh, Helm didn’t know the category of the nomination. When he was told Best Traditional Folk album, he laughed.

“How the hell did that happen,” he chuckled. “I thought I was a roots rocker.”


Bar Scott's most recent CD, A LITTLE DREAM, was just released and celebrated at a recent concert held at the Kleinert-James Gallery in Woodstock, NewYork. The house was full with guests who had each brought a wonderful dessert to share and wine to drink. The atmosphere was festive and fun, and the music was delightful.

This new CD is a departure for Scott who is better known for writing her own songs. On this recording she covers 13 standards including "The Nearness of You," "You Better Go Now," "I Wish I Didn't Love You So," and "Dream a Little Dream of Me." These great old songs are all sung very simply by Scott who loves to sing these melodies as written.

For both the recording and the live concert, Scott was joined by Peter Tomlinson on piano and Lou Pappas on upright bass. Copies of the CD are available on-line at or can be digitally downloaded at itunes.

In addition to the new album, Bar's husband, Peter Schoenberger, was recently named as an Independent Music Awards Finalist in the Album Art Photography Category for his work on Bar's PARACHUTE album. Go to Independent Music Awards to check it all out and vote for the one you like best.



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If you are interested in becoming a sponsor of the 2008 Woodstock Film Festival or supporting the Hudson Valley Film Commission or a variety of year round special events, please contact Meira or Laurent at

The 9th annual Woodstock Film Festival is set for October 1-5 2008, and many exciting plans are already under way. Feedback for 2007 was phenomenal. Here are just a few comments. We hope you'll join us in 2008.

"It was the nicest festival experience I had this year. The festival is well programmed and beautifully run.. I look forward to returning in 2008." Ted Sarandos– Chief Content Officer, Netflix Inc.

"I've covered and participated in many festivals, and Woodstock is unique in its combination of cinematic sophistication, user-friendly scale and down-home hospitality. It's arguably the closest thing the East Coast has to the Telluride Film Festival..” Godfrey Chesire, Moving Midway in The New York Times

"Every year the festival attracts a shockingly strong number of outstanding films, filmmakers and panelists of the highest caliber." Jason Kliot, Open City Films

See and listen to what actor Giancorlo Esposito has to say by clicking here.

Please also consider making a year end tax-deductible private contribution to support our continued efforts. You can also PURCHASE A RAFFLE TICKET for a brand new 2008 Toyota Prius Hybrid. Only 500 tickets will be sold. The raffle winner will be announced on January 1, 2008.

If you prefer, you can make your donation or purchase your raffle tickets online at or by mailing a check to Woodstock Film Festival,
PO Box 1406, Woodstock, NY 12498. Or email or call the office.

We have great gift ideas for everyone on your list: 2007 Peter Max T-Shirts,
WFF track hoodies, caps, mugs, booty shorts and even underwear!
Merchandise is available online or at the festival's office.

The Woodstock Film Festival is a nonprofit organization which presents an annual
program and year-round schedule of film, music, and art-related activities that promote artists, culture, inspired learning, diversity, and sustainable economic development through
film, video, and media production and exhibition.

The Hudson Valley Film Commission promotes sustainable economic development
by attracting and supporting film, video, and media production.

For information, call (845) 679-4265 or visit Woodstock Film Festival