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December 2009 - Holiday Newsletter

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May you be surrounded by friends and family and may the season
bring you lots of cheer, joy and merriment! Tis the Season!


Win A Winter SKI AND STAY GETAWAY for 2!
WIN a romantic weekend escape at the beautiful Waterfall House
Lift tickets for two to New York's premier Ski Area, Hunter Mountain
Dinner for two at The Fernwood Restaurant
A luxurious gift basket to enjoy for those romantic evenings, filled with Ciroc Vodka, Stella Artois, wine, fruit, cheese and more!


All proceeds are in support of the Woodstock Film Festival.

AND - there are 5 Runner-Up Prizes too!
Get what the celebrities get with our Festival Swag Gift Bags chalk full of books, CDs, DVDs, a Freeplay KITO Wind Up flashlight, WFF cap and more festival goodies.

For more information, or to purchase a raffle ticket CLICK HERE.


Melissa Leo at the 2008 Woodstock Film Fest

The Dry Land

Welcome to the Rileys

Long-time festival friend MELISSA LEO heads back to Sundance

Academy-Award® nominated actor Melissa Leo is a long time friend of the Woodstock Film Festival and a veteran of Sundance. She starred in Frozen River, which won the Grand Jury prize at Sundance in 2008 and was later nominated for 2 Academy Awards. Melissa returns to Park City this January with two films. We recently caught up with her at her Hudson Valley home when she was visiting on a brief break from working in New Orleans on the upcoming HBO show Treme. We spoke with Melissa about the two films.

The Dry Land, edited by WFF Advisory Board member Sabine Hoffman (The Private Lives of Pippa Lee), is in Sundance 2010's US Dramatic Competition. James (Ryan O’Nan) returns from Iraq to face a new battle—reintegrating into his small-town life in Texas. His wife (America Ferrera), his mother (Melissa Leo), and his friend (Jason Ritter) provide support, but they can’t fully understand the pain and suffering he feels since his tour of duty ended. Lonely, James reconnects with an army buddy (Wilmer Valderrama), who provides him with compassion and camaraderie during his battle to process his experiences in Iraq. But their reunion also exposes the different ways that war affects people—at least on the surface (synopsis courtesy of Sundance).

Melissa recalls, "America Ferrera called me to play the mother in The Dry Land and I immediately said yes. I worked with America years ago on a television show where I played her mother and knew then she was a serious actor with a bright future. Additionally, Heather Rae, who I last I worked with on Frozen River, was the producer on The Dry Land and my long-time friend Jeanne McCarthy cast the picture so I was thrilled to work on it. First-time director Ryan Piers William was a joy to work with. There was a true filmmaking collaboration in New Mexico which we all enjoyed. I can't wait to see it in Sundance."

Welcome To The Rileys, directed by Jake Scott will also be in US Dramatic competition.
Trauma transforms us. Years after their teenage daughter’s death, Lois and Doug Riley, an upstanding Indiana couple, are frozen by estranging grief. She isolates herself in their immaculate suburban home. He philanders with a local waitress, anesthetizing pain with easy passion. When he loses his mistress to cancer, Doug, beset by further heartache, escapes to New Orleans on a business trip. Compelled by urgencies he doesn’t understand, he insinuates himself into the life of an underage hooker, becoming her platonic guardian. Meanwhile, Lois summons all of her remaining force to overcome agoraphobia and venture south to reclaim her marriage. Exacting performances from three consummate actors (James Gandolfini, Melissa Leo, and Kristen Stewart) infuse this emotionally raw, gently humorous drama with penetrating humanity (synopsis courtesy Sundance).

"As for Welcome To The Rileys," continued Leo, "it was a great experience working with the very talented director Jake Scott, a joy to be wedded to James Gandolfini and a terrific experience working with producers Giovanni and Scott of Argonaut Pictures, who were both absolutely wonderful to me. I was also amazed by Kristen Stewart's experience and the seriousness with which she attacked a very edgy role. It is a beautiful story about mature adult relationship. My character has a real arc to it which was something I truly enjoyed working on. I'm grateful my work on these two films is done so I will not find myself in competition with myself in Sundance, and I wish both films the very best."

CLICK HERE for more on Melissa Leo.


Woodstock resident Jade Healy will be attending Sundance 2010 with two films that have been accepted as part of the US Dramatic Competition. She worked on both as production designer. "I was so lucky to be a part of both of these films," Healy said. "They are both so different and special in their own way.

HappyThankYouMorePlease is the story of six New Yorkers negotiating love, friendship and gratitude at a time when they’re too old to be precocious and not ready to be adults. The film is directed by Josh Radnor and features Malin Akerman, Josh Radnor, Zoe Kazan, Tony Hale, Pablo Schreiber, Michael Algieri.

HappyThankYouMorePlease was so much fun," Healy recalled. "We had no money to work with but we really came together to create something I think is fantastic. The challenge as always it to make it look like you had money and I think we succeeded."



Juggling the sudden abduction of her childhood sweetheart as well as a blooming love affair, The Imperialists are Still Alive: follows a French Manhattanite who makes her way as an artist in an indifferent, sometimes hostile world. The film is directed by Zeina Durra and features Élodie Bouchez, José María de Tavira, Karim Saleh Karolina Muller, Marianna Kulukundis, Rita Ackerman. Director Zeina Durra produced Laura Richard's "Breached," which screened at WFF05.

Healy emphasized that, The Imperialists are Still Alive: was an amazing experience because it was an all woman power house of creative key; the producer, director, DP, costume designer and myself. It was refreshing to see women in creative leadership roles."

Producer Vanessa Hope (wife of 2009 WFF Trailblazer Award Recipient, Ted Hope) reacted to the Sundance screening with the following:

"On the first day of shooting in a loft in Chinatown, while in-between takes, our lead actress, Élodie Bouchez, and I started talking about why we love this film project. It was the Monday before Valentine’s Day, and I told Élodie that the film He's Just Not That Into You had been released and reviewed in a way I thought was relevant for our film. I opened my laptop to read Manohla Dargis’ opening paragraph to her because it had stayed with me (click here to view article published 2/6/09):

'The good Dr. Freud once asked, what do women want? To judge by the recent crop of what are often sneeringly referred to as chick flicks, today’s woman wants designer threads, extravagant weddings and a generous helping of public humiliation served up with laughs, most at her expense. Where have you gone, Thelma and Louise? Oh, right: those gun-toting runaway heroines played by Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon, who wore old blue jeans and confidently put the moves on the men in their lives in Ridley Scott’s 1991 outlaw female fantasy, drove off the cliff at their big finish. You have been missed, ladies.'
We’re answering that call, I told Élodie, to bring back women in film with brains, desire, courage and strength. Élodie, who appears in every frame of our film, went on to give a mind-blowing, brave and badass not to mention funny performance that will shake-up the way we look at life and she didn’t have to kill anyone or die at the end to do it..."

Click here to read the entire story on The Imperialists are Still Alive

Documentary Lucky in competition


Academy Award® Winner Phillip Seymour Hoffman
and cast in Jack Goes Boating


Also featured at Sundance in 2010 will be Peter Saraf's latest films: Lucky and Jack Goes Boating. Peter, an Oscar® nominated producer best known Little Miss Sunshine, Adaptation and recent hit Away We Go, is a founding member of the Woodstock Film Festival Advisory Board and long-time friend. Congratulations Peter!

Lucky, which will be competing in the US Documentary Competition, is directed by Jeffrey Blitz who won the best documentary Maverick Award at the 2002 Woodstock FIlm Festival for Spellbound.

Dreaming of winning the lottery is as American as apple pie. Millions of Americans spend billions of dollars each year hoping to come up a winner. But what happens to the lucky few who actually pull a winning ticket? Lucky crisscrosses the country, examining a handful of past lottery winners as they navigate their newly found riches and a couple of extremely determined hopefuls. The winners’ lives are undoubtedly changed forever but not necessarily in the ways we may expect. Life becomes complicated as attorneys, hired security guards, jealous friends, scheming family members, and desperate pleas for help from strangers pepper their new existence. (synopsis courtesy Sundance).

Jack Goes Boating is a tale of love, betrayal, and friendship set against the backdrop of working-class New York City life. Jack and Connie are two single people who on their own might continue to recede into the anonymous background of the city, but in each other begin to find the courage and desire to pursue their budding relationship. In contrast, the couple who brought them together, Clyde and Lucy, are confronting the unresolved issues in their rocky marriage.

The multifaceted Phillip Seymour Hoffman makes his directorial debut demonstrating an assured style and grace both behind the camera and in front of it. He leads a skilled cast, who waltz through their group scenes in perfect counterpoint, each getting what he or she needs from the other. The writing is fiercely authentic as are the performances. Lyrical and lovely, Jack Goes Boating is an offbeat love story that almost forgets to happen (synopsis courtesy Sundance).


Ricky (WFF 2009) is currently in theaters thanks to IFC Films.

Love is “in the air” in this charming French fable of working class lovers whose passion produces an extraordinary child. Sparks fly when single mother Katie and Spanish co-worker Paco meet in the sterile factory where they both work. Soon they are living together as Lisa, Katie’s seven-year-old daughter, struggles to find her place in this new family.

Lisa’s feeling of abandonment escalates with the birth of Ricky, a child quickly changing in the most amazing ways. Accused of harming the baby and tiring of fatherhood, Paco leaves, only to return when Ricky’s “abnormalities” create a media frenzy. But “love has wings,” and loss has the power to unite.

Director Francois Ozon blends mystery with magic, humor and irony, while maintaining the reality of the story. Finely crafted performances make “Ricky” less a fantasy than exploration of the complexities of love and family, and what it means to be “different.” (Barbara Pokras, A.C.E.).

Youth in Revolt (WFF 2009) will be released in theaters by Dimension Films on January 8, the coming-of-age comedy starring Michael Cera (Juno, Superbad) puts a fresh and outrageous stamp on a tale of adolescent obsession and rebellion.

Youth in Revolt (based on the novel by C.D. Payne) is the story of Nick Twisp – a unique, but affable teen with a taste for the finer things in life like Sinatra and Fellini – who falls hopelessly in love with the beautiful, free-spirited Sheeni Saunders (Portia Doubleday) while on a family vacation. But family, geography and jealous ex-lovers conspire to keep these two apart.

With Sheeni’s encouragement, Nick abandons his dull, predictable life and develops a rebellious alter ego: Francois. With his ascot, his moustache and his cigarette, Francois will stop at nothing to be with Sheeni, and leads Nick Twisp on a path of destruction with unpredictable and uproarious consequences.


GARBAGE DREAMS: Playing at the IFC Theater JAN 6-12

Winner of the 2010 Woodstock Film Festival James Lyons award for best documentary editing, 16 awards including the Ida Humanitas award and the Al Gore Reel Current award, Garbage Dreams is back after popular demand at the IFC theater in Manhattan from January 6-12.

A portion of ticket sales will go to the Zaballeen in Cairo.
Producer and Director Mai Iskander will be doing a Q&A for evening screenings on January 8th and 9th. Tickets and show times CLICK HERE. The IFC Theater is located on 323 Sixth Avenue at West Third Street: Map and Directions

Filmed over four years, 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. It is the 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 garbage they collect. Face to face with an uncertain future amidst encroaching multinational corporations who seek to "modernize" their trade, each of the teenage boys is forced to make choices that will impact his future and the survival of his community.


The Woodstock Film Festival ANIMATION PROGRAM curated and presented by acclaimed animators Bill Plympton & Signe Baumane, is always one of the most exciting events on the animation front. The 2009 program was so successful that we're doing it again -- this time in NYC!

Come join filmmakers and colleagues and enjoy an evening of animation magic.

Join us Wednesday January 13 at 8pm at the 92YTribeca. for some of the best animated shorts of the year. Presented by the Woodstock Film Festival and 92YTribeca.

For more information including a FULL LINE-UP, CLICK HERE.


Our friends at the Cinema Eye Honors will be celebrating their third annual event on January 15, 2010 at The Times Center in New York City and Woodstock Film Festival's Executive Director, Meira Blaustein, who is on the nominating committee, will be there for the festivities. The Cinema Eye Honors for Nonfiction Filmmaking were founded in late 2007 to recognize and honor exemplary craft and innovation in nonfiction film.  

Cinema Eye’s mission has been to advocate for, recognize and promote the highest commitment to rigor and artistry in the nonfiction field. Cinema Eye Honors trophies were designed and crafted by Steve Heller who has been creating the Woodstock Film Festival awards since 2001.

2010 will mark the first time the Honors will be presented prior to the Academy Award® ceremonies.



The Opening Night Film of the 2009 Woodstock Film Festival is being recognized by many critics as one of this year's top ten best films and now, nominated for a Golden Globe.

Woody Harrelson (2003 WFF Maverick Award recipient and 2009 special guest) is nominated for Best Supporting Actor. Congratulations Woody!

In his most powerful performance to date, Ben Foster stars as Will Montgomery, a U.S. Army officer 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 Harrison) 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.



Nominated for SIX Golden Globes, the Closing Night Film of the 2009 Woodstock Film Festival is being revered nationwide, including AFI's Top Ten.

Nominations for Up In The Air include: Best Motion Picture - Drama, Best Performance by an Actor (George Clooney), a Best Supporting Actress nod to Hudson Valley rez and 2009 WFF guest Vera Farmiga, and another Best Supporting Actresss nod for Anna Kendrick.

From Jason Reitman, the Oscar®-nominated director of Juno, comes Up in the Air, the timely odyssey of Ryan Bingham (Oscar® winner George Clooney), a corporate downsizer and consummate modern business traveler who, after years of staying happily airborne, suddenly finds himself ready to make a real connection.

Ryan has long been contented with his unencumbered lifestyle lived out across America in airports, hotels and rental cars. He can carry all he needs in one wheel-away case; he’s a pampered, elite member of every travel loyalty program in existence; and he’s close to attaining his lifetime goal of 10 million frequent flier miles – and yet . . . Ryan has nothing real to hold onto.

When he falls for a simpatico fellow traveler (Vera Farmiga), Ryan’s boss (Jason Bateman), inspired by a young, upstart efficiency expert (Anna Kendrick), threatens to permanently call him in from the road. Faced with the prospect, at once terrifying and exhilarating, of being grounded, Ryan begins to contemplate what it might actually mean to have a home.

CONGRATULATIONS on these nominations and best wishes to ALL the nominees!


Several film shoots recently wrapped in the Hudson Valley including Rob Leitzell's Some People Are Shits, Darling, which filmed in Pine Plains and in Phoenicia at the stunningly picturesque Empire State Railway Museum. The 35mm production stars James Franco (who hosted SNL this past weekend) as a 1930's grifter. Look for it sometime this spring.

Currently, several feature films are scouting and in pre production. For up to date production postings, join us on Facebook, Twitter or Blogger.


Thelma Adams (middle) with
Uma Thurman and Kathleen Dieckmann

KUDOS to long-time festival friend THELMA ADAMS on new novel PLAYDATE

Thelma Adams, US Weekly film and DVD critic, has lead Q&A's and Panels for the Festival many times and now, a deal has been announced regarding her fictional debut: Playdate, a suburban dramedy that follows the increasingly inappropriate entanglements of two families over four days as Santa Ana winds blow a brush fire toward the California coast. The novel will be published by St. Martin's Press. Congratulations!


Blondie recently finished recording their upcoming album in Woodstock. Look for it in 2010. It will feature some amazing originals, a few great covers and special guest musicians.

A FREE download of BLONDIE performing the holiday classic, "We Three Kings" is available online at

The video (shot in Woodstock) somehow stirred up controversy when Fox News featured a clip on Bill O'reilly's "Pinheads and Patriots."
"I mean damn! We even mentioned The Deity hisself in the song (as written)," emailed Blondie co-founder Crhis Stein. "Anyway thnx Fox. All i can say is "we accept you gabba gabba etc etc."

Not sure how singing a standard Christmas song can be unpatriotic but ironically, the Fox News segment also singled out Bob Dylan's "Christmas in the Heart," which features a cover of "Must Be Santa."

"This is the song my father wrote 50 years ago," emailed Woodstock's own Tim Moore. "Dylan picked it up and turned it into a madcap, loopy polka and party video."

The song can be downloaded on iTunes. Dylan's royalties go to charity.





Dear Friends,

We'd like to take a moment to thank you for your past support. We recognize that without you, the Woodstock Film Festival (WFF) could not continue and that Hudson Valley Film Commission (HVFC) would not be able to attract and support regional film production.

The 10th Annual Woodstock Film Festival has come and gone. By many accounts it was our biggest success yet! We presented over 150 events and saw tremendous participation from filmmakers, industry members and filmgoers. Screening highlights included Up in the Air, The Messenger, The Private Lives of Pippa Lee, Me and Orson Welles, Garbage Dreams, Junior, October Country, to name a few. Festival guests featured emerging filmmakers and A-list talent including Steve Buscemi, Jonathan Demme, Vera Farmiga, Giancarlo Esposito, Ben Foster, Woody Harrelson, Ethan Hawke, Ted Hope, Barbara Kopple, Richard Linklater, Lucy Liu, Uma Thurman and many others.

Your support is needed so we can continue to present world-class films, music and art-related activities that promote artists, culture, inspired learning and diversity.

Click here to read more and to support WFF.



Would you like to see YOUR COMPANY LOGO OR BANNER ON THE HEADER OF THIS NEWSLETTER going out to 15,000 monthly? How about on key banners and marketing materials during the 2010 Woodstock Film Festival?

If you are interested in becoming a 2010 Woodstock Film Festival sponsor,
please contact us regarding sponsorship opportunities. Each year film and music lovers gather at the Woodstock Film Festival from around the world for an exhilarating variety of films, first-class concerts, workshops, celebrity-led panels, an awards ceremony, and superlative parties. For more info, visit SPONSOR WOODSTOCK.