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WFF Announces 10th Anniversary Maverick Award Winner
Swimming to Cambodia at IFC
Man on Wire in Woodstock
Answer Man at Soho House recap
In Theaters
Tribeca Film Festival Awards Highlights
Hot Docs Ron Mann Retrospective

Hudson Valley Film Commission News

Music News
WFF Call For Entries
Foundation News

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Richard Linklater

Zac Efron & Claire Danes
in Me and Orson Welles

Ethan Hawke


Richard Linklater, the Academy Award® nominated writer/director, will be presented with the 2009 Honorary Maverick Award by the Woodstock Film Festival, during its Gala Award Ceremony, Saturday evening, October 3rd , at BackStage Productions in Kingston, NY.

Presenting the Honorary Maverick Award will be Linklater’s long time friend and collaborator, actor Ethan Hawke (Waking Life, Before Sunrise, The Newton Boys, Tape). Linklater’s latest film, Me and Orson Welles will be featured as one of the Spotlight films in this year’s lineup, and he will participate in a panel discussion during the festival, which runs this year from Wednesday Sept. 30 through Sunday Oct. 4th. Through his films he has introduced any number of talented young actors into the Hollywood scene, including Matthew McConaughey, Ben Affleck and Parker Posey.

Linklater's work includes: Its Impossible to Learn How to Plow By Reading Books (1988); Slacker (1991); Dazed and Confused (1993); Before Sunrise (1995); Suburbia (1997); The Newton Boys (1998); Waking Life (2001); Tape (2001); Live From Shiva's Dance Floor (2003); School of Rock (2003); Before Sunset (2004); $5.15/Hr. (2004) (TV); Bad News Bears (2005); A Scanner Darkly (2006); Fast Food Nation (2006); Inning By Inning: A Portrait of a Coach (2008); Me and Orson Welles (2009)

WFF Co-Founder and Executive Director Meira Blaustein said Linklater, a native of Texas, embodies the Maverick spirit as a symbol of creative, free spirit, risk taking and independent thought:

"Richard Linklater's singular approach to filmmaking - always inventing and re-inventing the art in fresh and exciting new ways, coupled with his unwavering support of independent filmmakers- makes him the ideal recipient of our honorary Maverick Award.” said Blaustein. “We're thrilled that he accepted our invitation and can't wait to host him here in Woodstock, where he'll find a thriving film community, reminiscent of the one in Austin, Texas which he so closely nurtured".

Richard Linklater said in a statement: "Although the term 'maverick' was greatly devalued in last year's election cycle, I'll humbly take on this honor and as a Texas filmmaker help reclaim the term in the tradition of the famous Texas cattleman Samuel Maverick who refused to brand his cattle. I would like to think it was for humane reasons but the legend goes that he was just too lazy and uninterested in ranching to care. I think there may be an indie filmmaking analogy in there somewhere... regardless, I look forward to being with all of you up in Woodstock this fall."

The Honorary Maverick Award is given each year to an individual whose life and work is based on creativity, independent vision, and social activism. Previous recipients include Kevin Smith, Christine Vachon, Barbara Kopple, Tim Robbins, Les Blank, D.A. Pennebaker & Chris Hegedus, Woody Harrelson, Mira Nair and Steve Buscemi.

Additional WFF awards include the Trailblazer Award, the Lee Marvin Award for Best Feature, the James Lyons Award for Best Editing, the Maverick Award for Best Documentary, and several others.



June 12, 7-11pm at Backstage Studio Productions in Kingston, NY.

The Hudson Valley Film Commission will be hosting a HOLLYWOOD ON HUDSON benefit and mixer on June 12 at Backstage Studio Productions, one of only 2 certified soundstages in the Hudson Valley. We expect a great turn out of celebrities, filmmakers, politicians and industry professionals representing all the surrounding counties that benefit from the work of the Hudson Valley Film Commission. The film industry brings in $5+ billion annually to the New York State economy. It is a vital component to economic development in the Hudson Valley.

*Light, Cameras and ACTION
*Film score and music stylings of DJ Wa
*Special guests
*Delectable food, complimentary glass of wine & cash bar
*An amazing auction with "NYC Auctioneer of the Year" Barry Cherwin
*Production equipment demos
*Networking opportunities with local industry members
*Your donations will be met by matching funds.

Your support will help HVFC continue providing free support to independent & studio features, short films, student projects, TV ads and regional filmmakers. HVFC provides a free online directory, newsletter blurbs, casting and crew calls, job opportunities and much more.

Let's all work together to make the Hudson Valley – Hollywood on the Hudson!

For information about sponsoring this event, click here.


If you're looking for a place to burn or explode, here's the ideal location

On location with THE BELL


Local film production has been booming since the film credit was re-introduced and we're looking forward to a summer full of productions in all the surrounding counties.

Several projects took advantage of the early May flowers (and showers) including Insignia Films RAY/MLK project for American Experience and Winsome Productions' THE BELL, which was partly shot on location at the Woodstock Day School with an eager cast made up of students. Director Erik Weigel rented a house once owned by Preston Sturges during the production.

Upcoming films and photo shoots include:

  • Glass Eye Pix's BITTER FEAST, directed by Joe Maggio (Paper Covers Rock)
  • ALIENATED, with a script by Charles Disney and Lee Barron that won 1st place finish at Mafia Short Script Competition. The story, which follows a hit man (Vincent Pastore) and his fear of extraterrestrials, is set for production in June.
  • GONE TO TEXAS, a PBS/ITVS project for which the Hudson Valley will double as Alabama.
  • 24 HOURS AT THE GOLDEN APPLE by director Adam Roe who still seeks extras for night shoots at O's Eatery in Chatham, NY.
  • Folded Leaf Productions' WHISPER ME A LULLABY
  • A fashion pictorial for MARIE CLAIR ITALIA

    For up to date information about crew, cast and location needs for upcoming productions, please join us on FACEBOOK.

  • bell2
    The cast of “The Bell”. Image courtesy of Winsome Productions / Small Rebel Army Media Group


    SWIMMING TO CAMBODIA, Jonathan Demme's spellbinding documentary will be co-presented by WFF and Stranger Than Fiction at the IFC Center on Tuesday May 12 in Manhattan. The film will be followed by a reception and Q&A with Academy-Award® winning director Jonathan Demme.

    In SWIMMING TO CAMBODIA, Demme captures the urgency, terror, humor and brilliance of single performer -- Spalding Gray, who stays seated behind a table at New York's Soho Performing Garage in 1987 for an intense monologue. Gray uses his experiences in Thailand filming the 1984 Academy Award winning film THE KILLING FIELDS as a springboard for all sorts of hilarious, moving digressions, notably a concise and bone-chilling history of Cambodia, and the mass murders brought about by Pol-Pot in the 1970's. There's also Gray's quest for "the perfect moment," a spiritual pursuit that involves drugs, detailed descriptions of the Bangkok brothels, and the apprehension involved in trying to memorize lines for the film. Fellow performance artist Laurie Anderson composed the background music, which along with the ingenious lighting and ambient sound effects perfectly accents Gray's delivery. Demme has crafted a brilliant film of a brilliant performer, infusing the proceedings with a real magnetic urgency, making it hard to look away even for an instant.

    Co-sponsored by CÎROC Vodka.


    Philippe Petit at WFF screening
    (photo credit: Naomi Graphics)


    Philippe Petit was greeted with a standing ovation after the recent “hometown” WOODSTOCK FILM FESTIVAL presentation of the Academy® Award winning documentary MAN ON WIRE at Tinker Street Cinema on Saturday, May 2.

    At the beginning of the “aftershow”, Petit removed a gold bowling pin from his duffle bag and balanced it on his chin for the audience (see photo). The bowling pin, he explained, had been retrofitted (with help from two local friends) to weigh the same as an Academy Award statuette. Petit said that he’d practiced balancing a real Oscar® on his chin a few times at Woody Allen's apartment in Manhattan, but the prototype allowed him the opportunity to continue practicing in the event that MAN ON WIRE won an Academy® Award. As we all know, it did win and he successfully balanced the statuette live on television as hundred of millions watched.

    The Q&A with Petit (which he quipped could go on indefinitely) ended up answering many spiritual questions ranging from the mechanics of tightrope rigging, death, friendship, magic, filmmaking and the void between what we see. “Is there anything else up there?” was a particularly poignant question from audience member Clark Strand, whose recent book How to Believe in God: Whether You Believe in Religion or Not questions and attempts to answer the unknown. Petit loved the question, even joking that it could be the title for his next book, and spent a long time answering it (in short, there are a plethora of incredible things “up there”). Each question was given careful consideration by Petit, often inspiring a beautiful tangent as well, or laughter, as from the question from a young girl in the audience “Do you still ride a unicycle?”

    Petit’s inspirational last words were: “Go home, grow wings and fly…”

    Laurent Graham at WFF Answer Man screening
    - photo credit: Lisa Myers


    120dbFilms along with Ideal Partners hosted the Woodstock Film Festival benefit at Soho House on April 27, featuring Magnolia Pictures summer release THE ANSWER MAN, starring Jeff Daniels and Lauren Graham . The event was a resounding success, with appearances by cast members Lauren Graham (Flash of Genius, Evan Almighty, The Gilmore Girls, Guys and Dolls) and Olivia Thirlby (Juno).

    Everyone in attendance enjoyed the screening, and the opportunity to hear Lauren Graham, who stopped by on her first day off from the Broadway production of GUYS AND DOLLS to share stories about the production process. One highlight was Lauren's exchange with an aspiring 12-year old actress who was thrilled to meet one of her idols up close and personal. And Lauren's advise to "be nice to your waiters," followed her recounting that THE ANSWER MAN's film director John Hindman, first met her while waiting on her table.

    Following the screening, everyone enjoyed meeting Academy Award® nominee Melissa Leo, who joined us for the reception. Liquor sponsor CÎROC Vodka was flowing and delectable hors d'oeuvres were aplenty as everyone mingled and networked and had a good time. A few fabulous auction items added to the festivities including house seats for GUYS AND DOLLS and dinner for two at the Cookshop. Thanks to Soho House, 120dbFilms, Ideal Partners, Magnolia Pictures and CÎROC Vodka for making this a memorable night.


    PRESSURE COOKER, a compelling, award winning feature documentary directed by Jennifer Grausman and Mark Becker, opens May 27 at the IFC Center in Manhattan. See their website for the complete release schedule.

    The film follows three seniors at Philadelphia’s Frankford High who find an unlikely champion in their Culinary Arts teacher, Wilma Stephenson.  A legend in the school system, Mrs. Stephenson’s hilariously blunt boot-camp method is validated by years of scholarship success that’s taken countless students from the city’s working-class neighborhoods to the top culinary schools in the country.  Under her fierce direction, the usual distractions of high school are swept aside as Erica, Dudley and Fatoumata prepare to achieve beyond what anyone else expects from them. Click here to view the Trailer.

    Tilda Swinton as Julia


    JULIA (WFF2008) Directed by the talented Erick Zonca (The Dreamlife of Angels) was released in theaters nationwide by Magnolia Pictures on 5/08/09.

    Tilda Swinton plays JULIA–a 40 year old alcoholic. She is a manipulative, unreliable, compulsive liar, all strung out beneath her still flamboyant exterior. Between shots of vodka and one-night stands, Julia gets by on nickel-and-dime jobs. Increasingly lonely, the only consideration she receives comes from her friend Mitch, who tries to help her. But she shrugs him off, as her alcohol-induced confusion daily reinforces her sense that life has dealt her a losing hand and that she is not to blame for the mess she has made of it. Glimpsing imminent perdition, and after a chance encounter with Elena, a Mexican woman, Julia convinces herself - as much in panic and despair as for financial gain - to commit a violent act. As the story unfolds, Julia's journey becomes a headlong flight on a collision course, but somehow she makes the choice of life over death.


    Kief Davidson's insightful and beautifully shot documentary KASSIM THE DREAM opens June 5 at the IFC Center in Manhattan.

    Ugandan born American boxer Kassim "The Dream" Ouma has lived a harsh and unbelievable life. At six, Kassim was abducted and turned into a child soldier, forced to experience and perpetrate violent atrocities. Finally fleeing Uganda and training as a boxer in the U.S., he has become the Junior Middleweight Champion of the World.
    In Davidson's film, Kassim simultaneously prepares to return to Uganda, in the face of a possible death penalty for desertion, to reunite with his family and to win his hardest fight yet, a bout with the Middleweight Champion of the World. Kassim, despite his cruel childhood, is amazingly kind and jovial with his family, friends, competitors, fans and the frightening figures of his childhood. Kassim The Dream explores the drama of facing a horrifying past and rediscovering a long, lost home.

    Fixer: The Taking of Ajmal Naqshbandi


    We’d like to extend our congratulations to WFF friends and filmmakers who received recent acclaim at the 2009 Tribeca Film Festival.

    Paola Mendoza and Gloria LaMorte's beautiful film Entre Nos is based on Mendoza's real-life experiences as a child, when her family moved from Colombia to New York City. Their sensitive depiction of issues ranging from immigration to poverty to single motherhood earned them an Honorable Mention at this year's Tribeca Film Festival. In 2006, Mendoza's documentary Autumn's Eyes was a finalist in the Woodstock Film Festival documentary competition.
    It won Best Editing Award for Feature Documentary.

    Best New Documentary Filmmaker Award at the Tribeca Film Festival went to Ian Olds for Fixer: The Taking of Ajmal Naqshbandi. This emotionally mesmerizing documentary takes an intensely personal journey into the dangerous and unseen world of wartime news gathering, where nationality can determine the value of a life. A Westerner's abduction will make headlines around the world, but director Ian Olds' examines what happens for those who don't make the international headlines. Olds' short film Two Men won Best Short at the 2005 Woodstock Film Festival. His following short, Bomb was shot and cast in the Hudson Valley.

    For those of you who missed the Tribeca screenings, Fixer: The Taking of Ajmal Naqshbandi will be premiering on HBO on August 17.

    Congratulations and good wishes to both filmmakers for their successes!

    Ron Mann


    Hot Docs recently honored the cutting-edge works of documentary filmmaker and longtime WFF friend Ron Mann for their 2009 Focus On retrospective, an annual program showcasing the work of a mid-career Canadian filmmaker. The Focus On retrospective featured seven different works by Mann.

    “Ron Mann is a truly maverick filmmaker, with a feisty, bold body of work that has carved its own niche exploring curious counter-cultures,” commented Sean Farnel, Hot Docs’ director of programming.

    For over 25 years, Mann has been creating award-winning documentary features that focus on alternative and dissident cultures, beginning with a look at the once-controversial free jazz movement of the 1960s in IMAGINE THE SOUND (1981). He has examined the “Dial-A-Poem” poets with POETRY IN MOTION (1982), the history of comics with COMIC BOOK CONFIDENTIAL (1988), the politics of marijuana with GRASS (1999), environmental causes GO FURTHER (2003), the world of Ed "Big Daddy" Roth in TALES OF RAT FINK (2006) and most recently the wonderful world of fungi with KNOW YOUR MUSHROOMS (2008).

    WFF congratulates Ron on this well-deserved acknowledgment! If anyone is interested in hosting Ron this fall as part of the Hudson Valley Programmer's Group tour, please visit HVPG.org



    The tracks for Simone Felice's new project with Robert 'Chicken' Burke – THE DUKE & THE KING were recorded at The Chapel in the woods of Bearsville.

    A hand-numbered, limited edition four song double 7" EP will be released in the UK in May as an introduction to THE DUKE & THE KING a week before their one-stop live London debut (Bush Hall, May 26, get tickets now!). They will also be at The COlony in WOodstock on May 22.

    NOTHING GOLD CAN STAY, their first full length album will be released in the UK on July 13 (Vinyl/CD/Download). In August, the album will be released in the US on North Carolina indie, Ramseur Records.

    Simone Felice (The Felice Brothers / author of "Hail Mary Full Of Holes" Uncut Book Of The Month March '09) and Robert 'Chicken' Burke (George Clinton/Drugs, Sweet Honey and the Rock/Toshi Reagon) mixed the music in Brooklyn with Grammy award winning hip hop maestro Bassy Bob Brockmann (Notorious B.I.G's Ready To Die).

    Check out some of the tunes on myspace.



    The WOODSTOCK FILM FESTIVAL (Sept 30th – October 4th, 2009) is currently accepting submissions in all categories. Maverick Awards are presented for Best Feature ($5000 cash), 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 The Lee Marvin Estate, the late James Lyons, Lowel-Light, Apple Computers, Final Draft, Post Factory, Baseline Studio System and others.

    Early Deadline: May 25

    Final Deadline: June 22

    Industry participants have included Ang Lee, Kevin Smith, Steve Buscemi, Peter Saraf (Big Beach Films), Jonathan Sehring (IFC), Ted Sarandos (Netflix), Bob Berney, Eamonn Bowles (Magnolia Pictures), Mark Urman (Senator), Bingham Ray (Kimmel Entertainment), 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, Ethan Hawke, Matt Dillon, Rosie Perez and many others.

    Click here for details and online entry form.



    The 10th Anniversary of the Woodstock Film Festival is grateful to be the recipient of a 2009 grant from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The underlying purpose of Academy Foundation Grants in assisting festivals such as WFF is to engage diverse audiences and to encourage filmmakers, particularly those for whom a festival showing is a much needed opportinity for exposure to and feedback from those diverse audiences.

    The Academy Foundation Grant will also support Woodstock Film Festival's annual PANEL PROGRAM, which seeks to increase interest and understanding of cinema among the public at large and those interested in a career in film–from acting, writing and the creative process, to financing, distribution and marketing. The Panels cover a broad spectrum of artistic, technical and social issues, bringing a large and diverse group of esteemed members of the film world together with the local communities. Topics have included New Trends in Independent Filmmaking, Where Journalism Ends and Filmmaking Begins, Music in Film, Origins of Film Story, Artistic Expression in a Time of Censorship, New Trends in Distribution, Actors Dialogue, Amazing Women in Film, Conversations with…, and Case Studies. Panelists have included emerging and established industry members including Steve Buscemi, Tim Robbins, Parker Posey, Marcia Gay Harden, Kevin Bacon, Haskell Wexler, Ellen Kuras, James Schamus, Ismail Merchant, Elmer Bernstein, Bob Berney, Eammon Bowles, Mira Nair, Ted Sarandos, John Sloss, and many more.

    If you're interested in becoming a sponsor of the
    10th annual Woodstock Film Festival, email sponsor@woodstockfilmfestival.com

    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.

    Shoot your next film in the Hudson Valley Catskills...
    The Hudson Valley Film Commission promotes sustainable economic development by attracting and supporting film, video, and media production to the Hudson Valley Catskills.

    Join us for special events through the year including HVPG screenings.
    The Hudson Valley Programmers Group is dedicated to creating, curating and administering a touring road show program that brings internationally renowned filmmakers and artists to the region, and providing them with the opportunity to exhibit their work and interact with the community.

    For information, call (845) 810-0131