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Thanks to all who participated in our 2007 raffle. We are very grateful for all the support. The winner was #56 and turned out to be an Oscar winning screenwriter, currently on strike with the WGA.

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Today, I Weep for my Country...
by US Senator Robert Byrd
Speech delivered on the floor of the US Senate
March 19, 2003 3:45pm

I believe in this beautiful country. I have studied its roots and gloried in the wisdom of its magnificent Constitution. I have marveled at the wisdom of its founders and framers. Generation after generation of Americans has understood the lofty ideals that underlie our great Republic. I have been inspired by the story of their sacrifice and their strength.


Phil Donahue, Ellen Spiro and Congressman Maurice Hinchey to appear at WFF screening of BODY OF WAR. Other special guests include Woodstockers DeeDee Halleck who acted as the film’s consultant and Bernadine Colish, the film editor. The film was recently named to the short list for Best Documentary by the Oscars.

The Woodstock Film Festival announced the launch of its 2008 Year Round Screening Program with Phil Donahue and Ellen Spiro’s new award winning Iraq war documentary BODY OF WAR. The screening will take place Saturday Jan 12th, 2 pm (SOLD OUT), at the Tinker Street Cinema in Woodstock. AN ADDED SCREENING has been scheduled for 11am.

“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.

A special reception hosted by Oriole 9 at the restaurant will follow the screening and Q&A. For tickets visit www.woodstockfilmfestival.com/fundraising/bodyofwar.php

To sponsor upcoming year round events, contact sponsor@woodstockfilmfestival.com

Maverick Award - Designed by Steve Heller


The WOODSTOCK FILM FESTIVAL (Oct 1-5, 2008) is currently accepting submissions in all categories. Maverick Awards are presented for Best Feature, Best Documentary, Best Short Documentary, Best Short Film, Best Student Film, Best Cinematography, Best Editing and Best Animation. Cash, prizes and/or services are given out in each category. Audience Awards are presented for Best Feature and Best Documentary. Award sponsors have included Lowel-Light, Apple Computers, Final Draft, Post Factory, A&E Indie Films, add Docurama, Kodak, Baseline, Markertek, and others.

Industry participants have included Steve Buscemi, Peter Saraf (Big Beach Films), Jonathan Sehring (IFC), Ted Sarandos (Netflix), Bob Berney (Picturehouse), Eamonn Bowles (Magnolia Pictures), Mark Urman (THINKfilm), Bingham Ray (Kimmel Entertainmen), James Schamus (Focus Features), Fisher Stevens (Greenstreet Productions), John Sloss (Cinetic Media), Ira Deutchman (Emerging Pictures), Ron Mann (Films We Like), John Pierson (Grainy Pictures), John Anderson, Ryan Werner (IFC), Tom Quinn (Magnolia Pictures), Christine Vachon (Killer Films), Andrew Hurwitz, Ira Schreck, Mira Nair, Todd Haynes, Woody Harrelson, Tim Robbins, Marcia Gay Harden, Lili Taylor, D.A. Pennebaker, Albert Maysles, Barbara Kopple, Leon Gast, Liz Garbus, Brett Morgen, Thelma Adams, Robert Downey, Zachary Sklar, Kevin Bacon, Tim Robbins, Ethan Hawke, Matt Dillon, Rosie Perez and many others.

To apply online, and for details, visit ENTRY FORM

SUNDANCE PREVIEW from Meira Blaustein

Each December, as snow begins to fall on the Catskill Mountains, and the year winds down, my anticipation starts building up to see the lineup for the upcoming Sundance Film Festival. Checking my inbox for announcements from Sundance' press office was a daily occurrence, until finally, it arrived! Competition, Premieres, Spectrum, Shorts. Each day, another category was announced, until we finally had the whole picture. And of course, it was dotted with Woodstock Film Festival friends, alumni, neighbors and colleagues.

And so, with friends, neighbors, and colleagues all participating in this year's Sundance edition, it is bound to be terrific. I can't wait to see everyone and everything in Park City. If anyone wants to get in touch with me (I'll be there from January 17 - 24) please call me on my cell at 914.466.5728 or at the Prospector Square Lodge at 435-658-3030.

Check our home page for my daily reports from Sundance in the Poughkeepsie Journal and live radio interviews on WAMC Northeast Public Radio and with Gattine & Franz WDST-100.1FM. See you all at the movies!

On set with Diminished Capacity




Savage Grace



Birds of America



Frozen River


American Teen






Flow: For Love of Water



Gonzo: The life and work of
Dr. Hunter S. Thompson



Man on Wire

Teat Beat of Sex

The Pearce Sisters


Woodstock residents Holli and Ed Gersh will be attending the 2008 Sundance Film Festival in support of two projects that they co-produced.

BIRDS OF AMERICA, directed by Craig Lucas, is a drama that revolves around siblings who reunite at the family home. The cast includes Oscar winner Hilary Swank, Matthew Perry, Ginnifer Goodwin and Ben Foster. It will be screened in an out-of-competition category called Spectrum.

DIMINISHED CAPACITY, directed by Terry Kinney, features Matthew Broderick, Virginia Madsen and Alan Alda in a story about a senile man who owns a rare baseball card. When his nephew embarks on a road trip intent to sell the card, he and his friends become entangled in the oddball world of baseball memorabilia. The movie will be screened in the festival's Premieres category.

The Gershs, who have a long history of interest and support of all the arts (and graciously hosting WFF filmmakers in their beautiful Woodstock home) were contacted about both projects by the executive producer Marilyn Haft of Grace is Gone, starring John Cusack. The film (currently in release) won last years audience Award at Sundance and screened at the 2007 Woodstock Film Festival. All three films were produced by Plum Productions, which also produced Steve Buscemi's Lonesome Jim (2006 WFF).

"It has been an amazing learning experience for us," says Holli when asked about their production experience. "From first reading the script, to visiting the location while filming was going on, to post production. I have an enormous respect for the process and those involved in it. There are so many people involved; it is quite remarkable that the final product resembles the initial concept at all.”

Both Holli and Ed look forward to going to Sundance and watching the next steps including the premiere and deal-making with hopes for big distribution deals.

Seems only fitting that some producer will now come along and adapt A Strong Collected Spirit to the screen. The biographical novel sprightly captures Ed's life as a young Golden Gloves Champion, pro boxer, and teacher in East Harlem.

SAVAGE GRACE directed by Tom Kalin has many familiar names attached including executive producer/WFF board member Stephen Hays, and producers Katie Roumel and Christine Vachon, the recipient of the 2007 WFF Honorary Maverick Award.

Based on a true story, the film follows the beautiful and charismatic Barbara Daly (Julianne Moore), who married above her class to Brooks Baekeland, the heir to the Bakelite plastics fortune. Their only child is a failure in his father's eyes, and as he matures and becomes increasingly close to his lonely mother, the seeds for tragedy are sown.

Filmed in sub-zero weather in upstate New York, March of 2007, FROZEN RIVER –Courtney Hunt’s directorial debut– stars Hudson Valley actor Melissa Leo (21 Grams, The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada, Homicide: Life on the Street)

Hunt developed the feature, set in a real-life smuggling zone on a Native American reservation between New York State and Quebec where the lure of fast money presents a daily challenge to single moms who would otherwise be making minimum wage. Strapped for money and having been deserted by her husband, working class Ray (Melissa Leo), reluctantly teams up with Lila (Misty Upham), a widowed Mohawk Indian, to smuggle illegal immigrants across the frozen St. Lawrence River from Canada to the U.S. in the trunk of a Dodge Spirit. Both women swear each trip will be their last, but one final run across the river leads to a showdown with the law on all sides.

Peter Saraf and Big Beach Productions follow on the mega-successful jr heels of Little Miss Sunshine with SUNSHINE CLEANING (this is not a sequel). Starring Amy Adams and Alan Arkin, this new comedy directed by Christine Jeffs, follows Rose Lorkowski, a young mother who decides to go into business with her unreliable sister doing biohazard removal and crime scene clean up, in order to send her eight year-old son to a private school.

A&E IndieFilms follow the success of Jesus Camp with AMERICAN TEEN. Nanette Burstein returns to Sundance (On the Ropes won a Special Jury Prize at the 1999 Festival) with a film that is an incredible window into a time of development almost everyone can relate to. She filmed daily for 10 months, developing a remarkably close rapport with these students and their families. The kids open up in her presence and lay bare their lives. That exemplifies her incredible talent for storytelling and uncovering the many layers of truth in her subjects, creating a film that is astonishing from shooting to editing.

Two movies produced by advisory board member Gill Holland will screen.

FLOW: FOR LOVE OF WATER which is co-produced by Stephen Nemeth (also an advisory board member) is an new film by Irena Salina that highlights the local intimacies of an emerging global catastrophe: African plumbers reconnect shantytown water pipes under cover of darkness to ensure a community's survival; a Californian scientist forces awareness of shockingly toxic public water sources; a ‘Big Water’ CEO argues privatization is the wave of the future; a “Water Guru” in India sparks new community water initiatives in hundreds of villages; a Canadian author uncovers the corporate profiteering that drives global water business. For more details, visit FLOW. The film will screen in the Competition Docs category.

Holland is also credited as an executive producer for ADVENTURES OF POWER,  a comedy directed by Ari Gold and starring Bard alumni Adrian Grenier (Entourage) as an air drummer who dreams of being the best in the world. Ari Gold's short film Helicopter won the 2002 WFF Maverick Award for best short and Adrian Grenier attended the same year with his brave and very personal doc Shot in the Dark. The film is one of eight that were selected for screening for Park City at Midnight.

Nemeth, who will be attending with two films, also produced FIELDS OF FUEL (Make Fuel Not War). The feature length documentary follows  one man's search for an alternative to America's dependence on foreign oil. America is engulfed in an oil war, the environment is being destroyed, and gas prices have gone through the roof. FIELDS OF FUEL is about how we got into this mess and more importantly, how we get out.

GONZO: THE LIFE AND WORK OF DR. HUNTER S. THOMPSON is directed by Alex Gibney (The Blues, Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room) and produced by Jason Kliot and Joana Vicente (Open City Films, HDNet). Fueled by a raging libido, Wild Turkey, and superhuman doses of drugs, Thompson was a true "free lance," goring sacred cows with impunity, hilarity and a steel-eyed conviction for righting wrongs. Focusing on the good doctor's heyday, 1965 to 1975, the film includes clips of never-before-seen (nor heard) home movies, audiotapes, and passages from unpublished manuscripts.

NEAKHOON (THE BETRAYAL) is the directorial debut of the great cinematographer Ellen Kuras (The Ballad of Jack and Rose, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Personal Velocity: Three Portraits, Blow)  The doc follows the epic story of a family forced to emigrate from Laos after the chaos of the secret air war waged by the U.S. during the Vietnam War. Kuras has spent the last 23 years chronicling the family's extraordinary journey in this deeply personal, poetic, and emotional film.

Amos Poe’s screenplay for THE GUITAR – based on the true story – follows the transformation of a woman who changes her life by throwing caution to the wind when faced with a terminal illness. She blows her savings  to pursue her dreams of romance and playing the guitar. The film is directed by Amy Redford, the daughter of Robert Redford.

Spectrum narratives include BAGHEAD, a mumblecore narrative from the director, screenwriting and family team of Mark and Jay Duplass, who last traveled to Woodstock with The Puffy Chair in 2005. With BAGHEAD, the Duplass Brothers explore the minutiae of relationship dynamics in this in-depth study of a group of desperate actor friends. And a bag. And a head. The film stars Ulster County’s very own Ross Partridge (Interstate 84) whose fabulous sister teaches at Woodstock Elementary and volunteers for WFF.

This year’s Spectrum Docs will feature KICKING IT, directed by Susan Koch (Mario's Story-WFF2006). The doc profiles the transformation of seven soccer players attending the fourth annual Homeless World Cup in Cape Town, South Africa. The men, made invisible by poverty and addiction, are compelled to find a way out of their circumstances through sport.

Woodstock alumni Tanaz Eshaghian (I Call Myself Persian, Searching for the Onteora Indians) will be attending in the World Cinema Competition with her documentary BE LIKE OTHERS.

When addressing New York's Columbia University recently, Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was quoted as saying: "In Iran we don't have homosexuals like in your country." The remarks drew widespread criticism in the West as homosexuality is punishable by death in the Islamic Republic. Interestingly enough, sex change surgery is not condemnable and even encouraged. Eshaghian’s intimate and unflinching doc takes a provocative look at a generation of young Iranian men who choose to undergo sex change surgery rather than risk condemnation for homosexuality in Iran..

James Marsh’sdocumentary MAN ON WIRE recounts on film the remarkable high wire stunt that would become an act of incomparable beauty and imagination. The 1974 event, which was conceived  and created by current Ulster County resident Philippe Petit, was first captured in his biographical book, To Reach the Clouds : My High Wire Walk Between the Twin Towers. The book is an enraptuous page-turner. Through candid interviews, archival footage, dramatizations and visual effects, the adventures of Petit and his accomplices are brought back to life.

Red Hook's Seth Kramer and Cold Spring's Daniel A. Miller travel to Park City for the world premiere of their film, THE LINGUISTS. In the rugged landscapes of Siberia, India, and Bolivia, David and Greg (The Linguists) document languages on the verge of extinction. Their resolve is tested by institutionalized racism and violent economic unrest. The film is co-directed by Kramer, Miller and Westchester resdient Jeremy Newberger.

Sundance will world premiere the Poughkeepsie produced short BIGGER, STRONGER, FASTER directed by Hudson Valley native Christopher Bell. The film, which was written by Bell, Alexander Buono and Tamsin Rawady, explores America’s win-at-all-cost culture by examining his two brothers' steroids use... and his own.

And Signe Baumane will be there! The first year Signe came to Woodstock, she fell asleep late at night on a pile of clothes somewhere at Allaire Studios during the "party of the decade" that we had there. That was the beginning of Signe's great friendship with the WFF. She hasn't missed it since. And now she is going to Sundance. And Sundance will never be the same after TEAT BEAT OF SEX... "My goal is to continue making films," says Signe. "And delighting people with my work. "Getting into such a great and prestigious festival like Sundance is a perk, a bonus on a torturous road being a filmmaker."

Also, check out Rob Meyer's AQUARIUM, winner of the Diane Seligman Award at the 2007 Woodstock Film Festival for best student short.


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 sponsor@woodstockfilmfestival.com

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 beautifuly 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.

If you prefer, you can make your tax-deductible donation online at www.woodstockfilmfestival.com or by mailing a check to Woodstock Film Festival,
PO Box 1406, Woodstock, NY 12498. Or call the office at 845.679.4265.

Who bridges the gap between independent film fans and independent films?
That's right... it's INDIEPIX!

Their collection of over 3,000 films is curated so that only the best shorts, features and documentaries are presented for you to choose from. Have you checked out Discovery? This is their unique way of opening the world of independent film to you. Try it out!

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