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2009 WOODSTOCK FILM FESTIVAL
Mai Iskander's powerful documentary GARBAGE DREAMS (which won the James Lyons Editing Award for documentary at WFF09), recently screened in Egypt at the Sustainability Conference in Cairo. At the end of the screening, Melanie Walker of The Gates Foundation surprised everyone by announcing that the Gates Foundation will be making a a $1 MILLION GRANT to The Spirit of Youth Association, the non-governmental organization profiled in GARBAGE DREAMS.
GARBAGE DREAMS follows three teenage boys born into the trash trade and growing up in the world’s largest garbage village, on the outskirts of Cairo, Egypt. It is home to 60,000 Zaballeen, Arabic for “garbage people.” Far ahead of any modern “green” initiatives, the Zaballeen survive by recycling 80 percent of the trash they collect. When their community is suddenly faced with the globalization of the "trash trade," each boy is forced to make a choice that will impact his future and the survival of his community.
“I feel so strange stepping up here with all these amazing, amazing people." Melanie Walker addressed the audience. "We never had a movie screening at the Gates Foundation. . . But since we heard about this film, we invited Mai [Iskander] to come screen the film for us at our foundation. . .as you mentioned, it is very eye opening. Because you can hear about it, but then you see it and it becomes very much more real and you can start to think about ways to try to help and be involved. We are privileged to have had that opportunity . . . Our goal is to try and empower groups such as these and others around the world."
To find out how you too can help, visit GARBAGE DREAMS.
Nominations for the 2010 Cinema Eye Honors for Nonfiction Filmmaking were recently announced. The award ceremony will be held at the Times Center in New York City on January 15, 2010.
Big congratulations to Michael Palmieri and Donal Mosher's OCTOBER COUNTRY, which screened at WFF 2009 in the Feature Documentary program. Michael Palmieri (co-director, co-producer, photographer, co-composer) became the first invididual to receive five nominations in a single year.
OCTOBER COUNTRY is nominated for Outstanding Achievement in Nonfiction Feature Filmmaking, Outstanding Achievement in Direction, Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography, Outstanding Achievement in Original Music Score and Outstanding Achievement in a Debut Feature Film
BIG RIVER MAN received three nominations including Outstanding Achievement in Direction, Outstanding Achievement in Production, and Outstanding Achievement in Original Musical Score
THOSE WHO REMAIN, which won the HASKELL WEXLER AWARD FOR BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY at WFF09 was nominated for Outstanding Achievement In An International Feature Film
TRIMPIN: THE SOUND OF INVENTION was nominated for the Spotlight Award, a new award designed to honor films “that have not yet received the recognition that they deserve in the United States.”
In his most powerful performance to date, Ben Foster stars as Will Montgomery, a U.S. Army office who has just returned home from a tour in Iraq and is assigned to the Army's Casualty Notification service. Partnered with fellow officer Tony Stone (Woody Harrelson) to bear the bad news to the loved ones of fallen soldiers, Will faces the challenge of completing his mission while seeking to find comfort and healing back on the home front. THE MESSENGER reveals itself as a surprising, humorous and very human portrait of grief, friendship and survival.
Read Stewart Nusbaumer's Huffington Post review of THE MESSENGER online... "If you want to watch an entertaining movie, go to your local multiplex. If you want your emotions shot out of a cannon, go see The Messenger."
WILLIAM KUNSTLER: DISTURBING THE UNIVERSE
An official Selection of the 2009 Woodstock Film Festival, WILLIAM KUNSTLER: DISTURBING THE UNIVERSE, opens his Friday November 13 in New York at Cinema Village, 22 East 12th Street Between University Place and Fifth Ave (cinemavillage.com or 212.924.3363 for tickets) and in Boston at Landmark Kendall Square, 1 Kendall Square (landmarktheatres.com or 617.499.1996 for tickets). Regional expansion to follow. For more information about the film, and release details, visit www.disturbingtheuniverse.com
In WILLIAM KUNSTLER: DISTURBING THE UNIVERSE, filmmakers Emily Kunstler and Sarah Kunstler explore the life of their father, the late radical civil rights lawyer. In the 1960s and 70s, William Kunstler fought for civil rights with Martin Luther King Jr. and represented the famed “Chicago 8” activists who protested the Vietnam War. When the inmates took over Attica prison, or when the American Indian Movement stood up to the federal government at Wounded Knee, they asked Kunstler to be their lawyer.
To his daughters, it seemed that he was at the center of everything important that had ever happened. But when they were growing up, Kunstler represented some of the most reviled members of society, including rapists and assassins. This powerful film not only recounts the historic causes that Kunstler fought for; it also reveals a man that even his own daughters did not always understand, a man who risked public outrage and the safety of his family so that justice could serve all.
FREEING SILVIA BARALDINI
Locally made documentary, FREEING SILVIA BARALDINI will be showing on November 21 at 6pm at the Community Theatre in Catskill, NY which is located on 373 Main Street. There will be a Q & A with directors Margo Pelletier and Lisa Thomas following the screening.
On November 9th in 1982, on a New York City street, Silvia Baraldini was jumped by eight members of the FBI terrorist task force and brought into custody during a sweep of the radical left. Silvia was the leader of the May 19th Communist Organization, a key element in an alliance of revolutionaries, Black, White and Puerto Rican, who worked relentlessly to expose repressive policies of the U.S. government. In 1983, using an array of tactics, the government put an end to the alliance. Silvia was convicted of helping to free Black Panther, Assata Shakur from prison and received a 43-year sentence. Baraldini speaks with an almost religious integrity, focused on essential beliefs and principles. Her insistence on justice for the oppressed transcends politics, so does her personal suffering. After seventeen years in U.S. prisons, in 1999, following a ten-year campaign culminating in one million Italian signatures, Silvia won the right to serve out the remainder of her sentence in her homeland, Italy and was transferred to Rebbibia prison in Rome. Silvia’s story exemplifies the enduring human spirit within the resistance movements as well as the repressive measures waged against them by the United States government.
THE PRIVATE LIVES OF PIPPA LEE
From all outward appearances, Pippa Lee (Robin Wright Penn) leads a charmed existence. She is the devoted wife of an accomplished publisher (Alan Arkin) thirty years her senior, the proud mother of two grown children, and a trusted friend and confidant to all who cross her path. But as Pippa dutifully follows her husband to a new life in a staid Connecticut retirement community, her idyllic world and the persona she has built over the course of her marriage will be put to the ultimate test.
ME AND ORSON WELLES
The Austin Film Society presents ME AND ORSON WELLES with Zac Efron, Christian McKay and Richard Linklater in attendance. The screening will be held at the Paramount Theater in Austin, TX. Visit the Austin Film Society website for more info.
Based in real theatrical history, ME AND ORSON WELLES is a romantic coming-of-age story about a teenage actor who lucks into a role in "Julius Caesar" as it's being re-imagined by a brilliant, impetuous young director named Orson Welles at his newly-founded Mercury Theatre in NYC, 1937. The roller coaster week leading up to opening night has the charismatic-but-sometimes-cruel Welles (impressive newcomer Christian McKay) staking his career on this risky production while Richard (Zac Efron) mixes with everyone from starlets to stagehands in behind-the-scenes adventures bound to change him.
The screening benefits the Texas Filmmakers’ Production Fund, which was started in 1996 by Richard Linklater to assist emerging Texas filmmakers. The fund has awarded over $1 million.
THE MEN WHO STARE AT GOATS
Starring Ewan McGregor, George Clooney, Jeff Bridges, Kevin Spacey and a star-studded ensemble cast, THE MEN WHO STARE AT GOATS explores the "unbelievable" events inspired by the true story of the U.S. military's unit of psychic soldiers. The film follows Bob Wilton (McGregor), a reporter in search of his next big story, and out of commission psychic soldier Lyn Cassady (Clooney) as they search for Cassady's former commanding officer Bill Django (Bridges), founder of the top secret psychic soldier's program, who has recently gone missing.
For Justin Frost (newcomer Thomas Middleditch in a breakthrough role), a typical day is rolling out of bed at one, practicing improvised karate, and mowing grass for his best friend’s landscaping business. But when a traveling carnival lands in his small town, Justin falls for a sexy con artist and wakes up to the life he has yet to begin living. Written and directed by Brant Sersen, winner of the 2004 SXSW Audience Award for his previous feature comedy BLACKBALLED: THE BOBBY DUKES STORY, SPLINTERHEADS also stars Rachael Taylor (TRANSFORMERS), Christopher McDonald (HAPPY GILMORE), Lea Thompson (BACK TO THE FUTURE), Dean Winters (HBO’s OZ), Frankie Faison (HBO’s THE WIRE) and introducing Jason Rogel as Wayne Chung.
SPLINTERHEADS opened November 6th at Regal Union Square in New York City and expands on November 13 at Regal Arbor Cinema in Austin, TX and Regal Fox Tower in Portland, OR. Click here to purchase tickets.
MARK DUPLASS IS HAVING A GOOD YEAR
WFF first met the Duplass Brothers (Mark and Jay) in 2005, when their feature film THE PUFFY CHAIR had its NY Premiere at WFF. Since then, Mark has been involved with WFF in various respects, including being a panelist on the Is it Safe? panel and Feature Narrative juror in 2008.
2009 has been a busy year. He garnered rave reviews for his performance in HUMPDAY and TRUE ADOLESCENTS, is in production with brother Jay on an Untitled feature film with Fox Searchlight co-starring John C. Reilly and Marisa Tomey. If that wasn't enough, he (and wife Katie Aselton) are co-starring in FX’s new comedy, THE LEAGUE, which premiered October 29.
Variety calls THE LEAGUE“A crude but consistently funny half-hour that appears to be a bull’s-eye with the channel’s male-skewing audience. Like TBS’ My Boys."
The topnotch ensemble includes Pete (Mark Duplass), who consistently wins the fantasy league crown while suffering through a quarrelsome marriage; Kevin (Stephen Rannazzisi), whose wife Jenny (Katie Aselton) secretly helps develop his team’s draft strategies; the sexually frustrated Ruxin (Nick Kroll), whose wife (Nadine Velazquez) is withholding sex after having a baby; and Andre (Paul Scheer), a plastic surgeon whom the other guys constantly abuse.
HUDSON VALLEY GLEE ON TYRA
The cast of the FOX TV show GLEE will be appearing on the Tyra Banks Show, November 13th on the CW network. Along with the cast of the hit show, real glee club members will be featured on the show in the first ever "Tyra Show Glee Off."
Hudson Valley resident Lindsay Andretta was one of the lucky soloists chosen to perform on the show, representing her Masters School Glee Club. Lindsay grew up performing in the Woodstock Youth Theater as well as the New York Conservatory for the Arts in Hurley. Lindsay has performed at many events and has been acting since the age of six. She has sung the national anthem for the NY Mets at Shea Stadium and was a featured actor in FAR FROM HEAVEN and Law & Order: Criminal Intent..
Currently in production: Scareflix feature #8 - STAKE LAND
COLLAR, from Willy-Gilly Productions shot throughout the month of October in Goshen and Middletown (Orange County, NY). Willy-Gilly Productions is an independent film and TV production company headquartered in Goshen, NY. Kamen Velkovsky, who line produced MESKADA in late spring up in Greene County, was on board for the production as was WFF intern Kevin Bell as background coordinator. The crime drama thriller, which was directed by and stars David Wilson, focuses in on a town on the rocks and a suburban detective investigating a teen prostitution ring. Click here to see production stills from the recent production.
SHOOT YOUR NEXT FILM IN THE HUDSON VALLEY.
As we approach the 2009 holiday season, consider stocking up on some colorful mugs (and caps) or frame a limited edition signed Milton Glaser poster for that film or design aficionado in your life. We still have a small number of 10th anniversary t-shirts available as well.
If you are interested in becoming a 2010 Woodstock Film Festival sponsor,