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Woodstock Film Festival Co-Founder & Executive Director Meira Blaustein recently returned from the Los Angeles Film Festival, where she attended screenings, met with filmmakers and industry members and hosted a party in celebration of the 10th annual Woodstock Film Festival. The party was generously sponsored by Planet Illogica, BMI and Tonny Sorensen and honored the cast of BILLY JACK, with a live performance by modern troubadour Jamie Notarthomas from Upstate NY. Guests filled up the room at The Gardens on Glendon, enjoying delicious refreshments, networking and listening to the music. It was great fun - kudos to party organizer Kene G for putting the afternoon together! Our thanks to BMI, Tonny Sorensen and Planet Illogica for making it happen.
With many films to navigate through, thoughtfully selected by programmers Rachel Rosen and Doug Jones, it was hard at times to make a choice. Some of the programming highlights at the LAFF included the charming DEAR LEMON LIMA by WFF alum Suzi Yoonesi, Israeli filmmaker Hilla Medalia's documentary AFTER THE STORM, AJ Schnack's collaborative political effort CONVENTION, Tom DiCillo's exquisite documentary on The Doors, WHEN YOU'RE STRANGE, and Silverdocs winning documentary OCTOBER COUNTRY; which was actually shot in Upstate NY. Red carpet premieres such as PUBLIC ENEMIES added a glamorous layer to the otherwise independent and international film festival.
The festival was held in Westwood, a college neighborhood home to UCLA. A memorable Westwood moment was when Blaustein was sitting at The Coffee Bean in Westwood with producer friend Joanna Adler, and soon struck a conversation with 3 young Iranian men who just arrived from a demonstration, wearing all black with green bandanas and Where is My Vote tags. Soon afterwards, an older couple (an Asian woman and a Jewish man) joined the dialogue, and everyone conversed passionately together on the patio of the coffee shop, passing iPhones back and forth with the latest videos and messages from Iran and discussing the volatile situation in a country that seemed so far and yet so close...
All in all, it was a productive few days. Congratulations to the LAFF programmers and to all the participating filmmakers. We'll be seeing some of them in Woodstock later this fall!!
A BIG THANK YOU to all who attended the Hollywood on the Hudson benefit and mixer on June 12 at Backstage Studio Productions, and helped support the Hudson Valley Film Commission.
The turnout was fabulous, with attendance from filmmakers, politicians, and industry professionals representing the surrounding counties. The audience enjoyed a special Quadricentennial homage "on set experience," featuring the remake of MOBY DICK, starring Gilles Malkine as Starbuck and Mikhail Horowitz as Ishmail, with Tom Cherwin as "the director," Sharron Bower as "the assistant direcor," and Jason Downs as "the producer." After trying everything to update Ahab, including Ahab as a Scorsese character, a pirate and a Samurai, the crew decided to remake the opus as a rap video. So much for the classics!
Proceeds from ticket sales as well as the not-so-silent auction with Barry Cherwin Auctioneers (see items online) went towards helping 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.
As proof that HVFC is making a difference, HVFC director Laurent Rejto announced that the facility had just received state certification as an approved soundstage and that on the following day (6/13/09) the feature film MESKADA starring Norman Reedus (Boondock Saints), Nick Stahl (HBO’s “Carnivale”) and Rachel Nichols (”GI Joe” “Star Trek”) would use the facility.
Ulster County Executive Mike Hein, who spoke at the event, stressed how important the creative economy is and always has been to the entire region.
Let's all continue working together to make the Hudson Valley – Hollywood on the Hudson!
Thanks to the following companies for making this event possible:
WOODSTOCK FILM FESTIVAL present
Academy Award® winning director/producer Ang Lee and screenwriter/producer James Schamus will be coming to Woodstock on Saturday, August 8th to offer a special sneak peek of their newest film, TAKING WOODSTOCK.
TAKING WOODSTOCK will have its advance screening - one show only - at 3:00 PM at Woodstock’s Tinker Street Cinema on Saturday, August 8th. Along with Mr. Lee and Mr. Schamus, Michael Lang, the long-time Woodstocker widely known as the key promoter of the August '69 Woodstock Music & Art Festival and a key character in the film, will be in attendance." A Q&A session will be held at the theater immediately after the screening, followed by a special reception at Oriole 9.
The special Woodstock screening is being held in advance of the film’s nationwide release by Focus Features later in the month. Tickets for this one-time screening are selling out very quickly!
“Showing TAKING WOODSTOCK in the community that bears its name and spirit, and having both Ang Lee and James Schamus here, will be an event to remember, especially in this, our 10th Anniversary year,” said Meira Blaustein, co-founder and executive director of the Woodstock Film Festival. “We were fortunate to present our honorary Trailblazer Award last year to James Schamus and have Ang Lee present it to him while in the midst of production on this very film…so having them back here this year to share the completed film with the Woodstock community is a rare opportunity indeed.”
James Schamus added, “I’ve always enjoyed returning to Woodstock for the Film Festival, so it will be a joy and a privilege for Ang and I to present our new movie as a summer surprise.”
About TAKING WOODSTOCK:
The film also stars Dan Fogler, Henry Goodman, Jonathan Groff (as Michael Lang), Eugene Levy, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, and Imelda Staunton, with Emile Hirsch and Liev Schreiber.
Hudson Valley director/producer Max Mayer will be on hand at a Woodstock Film Festival special screening of his new feature film ADAM on Saturday, July 11 at 3:30pm at Upstate Films in Rhinebeck. Mayer will be present for a Q&A and reception following the screening.
THE FARM: 10 DOWN
About THE FARM:
Now, ten years later, we go back inside Angola to reconnect with our characters and to witness first hand Time's impact on their spirits, their bodies, their sense of hope and their sense of purpose. Have the family members who visited them ten years ago disappeared in time from their lives? Does their language change as men become increasingly hardened by time? Do memories of freedom and life on the outside fade with the hope of freedom? Time moves slowly in Angola, but hope survives.
THE FARM: 10 DOWN was produced by Highest Common Denominator Media Group
Reid Bielenberg Ice Sailing
Photo by Nathaniel Brooks
Aronson Films has partnered with WNET to create a series of at least 20 short films to help people understand New York’s long connection with the Hudson River and the surrounding valley. The films are about the deep historical, environmental and community relationships with this great river. Viewers will learn about science and ecology, weather and boats, environmental battles and the once vibrant needs of the Hudson River fishing industry. Films will also feature a variety of unique characters who work and live close to the Hudson River.
The films in the Hudson River Short Film Series were produced entirely in the Hudson Valley region by Aronson Films. Ross Shain from Rhinecliff did the graphics, Carmine deGennaro from Rhinecliff was the sound mixer, Jordan Matthews from Red hook worked on sound, and Peter Wetzler from Kingston composed music.
Local filmmaker and world explorer John Bowermaster's big, fun, informative, high-def film TERRA ANTARCTICA: REDISCOVERING THE SEVENTH CONTINENT had it's premiere at the Blue Ocean Film Festival in Savannah, Georgia on June 11th. Out of more than 200 films entered, it was one of six chosen to compete for the Best of Festival prize and was ultimately named the best Oceans Issues film, regarded as the film "that most effectively raises awareness and increases understanding about environmental and sustainability issues facing the oceans and its inhabitants."
For six weeks Jon Bowermaster and crew took on a remarkable journey of exploration in the Antarctic Peninsula by sea kayak, observing firsthand the evolution of this most remote place. This National Geographic-sponsored exploration is a one-of-a-kind look at Antarctica from a unique perspective—sea level.
Kris Carr, the best-selling author, filmmaker, and motivational speaker whose inspirational documentary CRAZY SEXY CANCER screened in 2007 as part of the WFF's year round programming, has just launched a new "Woodstock based" shop on her website.
Crazysexylife.com is a supercharged health hub filled with compassion, knowledge, and an anything-is-possible spirit. Their mission is to bring together amazing resources and cutting edge experts in one easy to navigate hot spot, now featuring a shop of Kris' favorite healthy products that are 100% vegan and 100% cruelty-free.
LEVON's ELECTRIC DIRT
Levon Helms returns with ELECTRIC DIRT on June 30th
Electric Dirt (Dirt Farmer Music/Vanguard Records) is the second album in the last two years from American musical treasure Levon Helm. Its predecessor, Dirt Farmer, his first solo LP in a quarter century, followed Levon’s near-miraculous recovery from throat cancer, and as such represented a new lease on life for the legendary artist, who rose to prominence as the drummer and vocalist for Levon and the Hawks, which later became The Band.
Electric Dirt again finds Levon steeped in tradition in his connection to the land and those who live by it, but this record goes deeper and wider, incorporating gospel, blues and soul elements in a bracing collection of originals and carefully chosen outside songs.
The long-awaited 10th Anniversary Woodstock Film Festival merchandise is now available for purchase! You can find items on our website or at our office on 86 Mill Hill Road in Woodstock, NY. Commemorative posters and t-shirts feature our 10th Anniversary design by legendary graphic maestro, Milton Glaser, creator of the “I (heart) New York” logo and other iconic artwork seen across the globe.
The exclusive design ushers in the 10th annual Woodstock Film Festival, which will be held from Wednesday, September 30th through Sunday October 4th.
BMI sponsors many music panels at film festivals and markets throughout the U.S. each year. These panels are designed to promote greater understanding within the filmmaking community about the aesthetic and business aspects of music in film as well as provide an opportunity for composers, songwriters and filmmakers to learn more about each other's role. Since 2000, BMI's music presence at the Woodstock Film Festival has consistently helped to forge new filmmaker-music industry relationships, which have proven to be mutually beneficial.
"Woodstock and film and music are just a natural fit," says BMI's Doreen Ringer Ross, who has been instrumental in creating a platform at film festivals for the independent film and creative music communities to interact in a positive and insightful forum. "If you think about the history of this place and the reputation that it has. It's so cool that this festival exists. I love coming here!"
BMI is an American performing right organization that represents approximately 375,000 songwriters, composers and publishers in all genres of music. With a repertoire of more than 6.5 million musical works from around the world, and $839 million in performing right collections for its 2007 fiscal year, the non-profit-making corporation collects license fees from businesses that use music, including radio, broadcast and cable television, the Internet and restaurants, and then distributes those fees as royalties to the musical creators and copyright owners it represents.
BMI’s list of affiliated songwriters and composers is unsurpassed and includes such legendary and diverse artists as David Bowie, John Lennon,Willie Nelson, Carlos Santana, Donovan, John Sebastian, Peter Gabriel, Dave Brubeck, Sir Elton John, Chuck Berry, Leadbelly,Little Richard, Crosby Stills and Nash, Lou Reed, Moby, the Bee Gees, Antonio Carlos Jobim and the Beach Boys, as well as celebrated film and television composers John Williams, Thomas Newman, Danny Elfman, Mike Post, W.G. Snuffy Walden, John Barry, Harry Gregson-Williams, Trevor Rabin, Alexandre Desplat, Gustavo Santaolalla and Terence Blanchard.