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March 2011 Newsletter - SXSW Edition

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First Winter, Rhymes With Banana, Orange County Choppers


A Night at the Awards was a Night We'll All Remember!

The Woodstock Film Festival and friends celebrated the 83rd Academy Awards with A Night at the Awards at the Emerson Resort and Spa. The evening kicked off with a videotaped message (filmed by Phil Dorling) from our good friend and Hudson Valley resident Melissa Leo, who was previously nominated for a best supporting Actress Oscar back in 2009 for Frozen River.

Minutes after the videotaped message, the room erupted in wild applause as Melissa accepted her Oscar from the legendary Kirk Douglas for Best Supporting Actress in the role of Alice Ward in The Fighter.

Two related moments made Tim Malcolm Times Herald record top five highlights:
#2. Kirk Douglas' appearance
94-year-old Issur Danielovitch, known better as Hollywood royalty Kirk Douglas, showed face for the unexpected moment of the night - this after his son and cancer survivor Michael stole a huge ovation at the Golden Globes. Kirk was on his game, making Anne Hathaway blush and making the Best Supporting Actress nominees squirm in their chairs. Watching Melissa Leo's "Oh, no you didn't!" reactions was quite funny. That leads us to No. 1 ...

#1. Melissa Leo: "[EXPLETIVE]"
Hand it to a Hudson Valley resident to give us the moment of the night. Melissa Leo contributed the first F-bomb in Oscar history (you'd think there would've been more) during her rambling acceptance speech. We say Melissa was overwhelmed with the victory, and she was probably trying to gather thoughts after having to acknowledge Douglas. Either way, it's the moment everyone was talking about. Melissa: You got a knack for this kind of stuff.


Dorling left on set of Predisposed short

Nyswaner left on set of Predisposed short

Oscar Winner Melissa Leo to Parent Jesse Eisenberg in Predisposed

Moments after the Oscars, New York Magazine, indieWIRE and other film trades released exclusive news about a Hudson Valley HOMEGROWN project that's been quietly developing for the past two years. A little known fact in Hollywood is how supportive Melissa has been to regional filmmaking in the Hudson Valley on films including No Shoulder, Bomb, Dear Lemon Lima, Racing Daylight, Patch, Cakeeaters, Stephanie Daley, Predisposed (the short) and many other projects. She has consistently volunteered to work on shorts and feature films and has even housed film school students in her home. Simply amazing! In 2010, she agreed to take on the role of Penny in the ultra low budget Francine. Look for it sometime in 2011.

As reported by NY Magazine “This summer, Best Actor nominee Jesse Eisenberg and Best Supporting Actress winner Melissa “F-Word”Leo will shoot Predisposed, an independent comedy about a drug-addict mom and her son, set on the day of his interview at Julliard and her enlistment in rehab, where she must arrive intoxicated in order to be admitted without health insurance. 30 Rock‘s Tracy Morgan is rumored to be playing one of Leo’s drug dealers.

Predisposed was originally produced in the Hudson Valley as a dramatic short in 2008 with Leo in the lead role. The script was co written by Philip Dorling of Woodstock and Oscar nominee Ron Nyswaner (Philadelphia, Painted Veil) of Stone Ridge. Dorling directed the short and will also helm the feature. Additional production details will be released as they are made public. Stay tuned.


Congratulations also to God Of Love for winning the 2011 Academy Award® for Best Live Action Short. If you haven't had the pleasure of seeing the short, you can buy the DVD.

Luke Matheny's speech made Tim Malcolm Times Herald record top five highlights:
#5. The speech of the night came from the fro-headed Luke Matheny, whose God of Love won Best Live Action Short. I saw Matheny's acceptance speech for Best Student Short at the Woodstock Film Festival, and he was hilarious and honest. Same thing here. He was shocked and awestruck, but cool enough to deliver quick thank you's to his cohorts. Best yet, he showed what it takes to be a filmmaker, thanking his craft services director (mom) and score composer (girlfriend) in very heartfelt ways.


The SXSW Film Conference and Festival kicks off March 11 with former Hudson Valley resident Janet Pierson in her third year at the helm.

Woodstock Film Festival co-founder Laurent Rejto will be screening films, participating on a Beginner's Guide to SXSW panel moderated by Agnes Varnum on Friday, and spreading the word about New York’s Hudson Valley as “the place” to shoot your next film. Visit for info about NY film incentives and related info.

“We have about thirteen films slated for spring and summer and we’re looking for more,” said Rejto. “New York is a great place to shoot film and we’d be delighted to offer film tax credits to a director like Robert Rodriguez with no “inappropriate content” clause.” (read more details on HVFC blog)

Several films with ties to the Hudson Valley and the Woodstock Film Festival will be screening including the following and check out our AD in the commemorative program.

Ceremony directed by Max Winkler and starring Woodstock's Uma Thurman

Sam Davis (Michael Angarano) convinces his former best friend to spend a weekend with him to rekindle their friendship at an elegant beach side estate owned by a famous documentary filmmaker (Lee Pace). But it soon becomes clear that Sam is secretly infatuated with the filmmaker's fiancée, Zoe (Uma Thurman), and that his true intention is to thwart their impending nuptials. As Sam's plan begins to unravel, he is forced to realize how complicated love and friendship can be.

The Dish and the Spoon directed by WFF alumnus Alison Bagnall

From writer/director Alison Bagnall (Buffalo 66, Piggie) comes the poignant comedy The Dish & The Spoon. Greta Gerwig (Greenberg, No Strings Attached and the upcoming Arthur) is Rose, a woman descending into an emotional tailspin after her husband admits to an affair. Hell-bent on revenge, she drives to a boarded-up Delaware beach town to hunt down the other woman. Instead, she discovers a stranded British teenage boy (exciting newcomer Olly Alexander) marooned on the beach. This lost boy becomes her constant companion and caretaker. The mismatched pair stumbles through a series of small adventures that build towards an unconventional romance in this funny and affecting film.

Fightville directed by Hudson Valley residents and WFF friends Michael Tucker and Petra Epperlein

Mixed Martial Arts has grown from a controversial no-holds-barred gladiatorial sideshow into a billion dollar phenomenon eclipsing boxing as the dominant combat sport in the world. But far from Las Vegas, in sweat-soaked gyms and low-rent arenas across America, the big lights are but a dream. Here, men fight to test their mettle, fortified with the mythic promise that an ordinary man can transform into a champion. Fightville is about the art and sport of fighting: a microcosm of life, a physical manifestation of that other brutal contest called the American Dream.

The Greatest Movie Ever Sold directed by Hudson Valley resident and friend of WFF Morgan Spurlock

Boundary-pushing Oscar®-nominated filmmaker Morgan Spurlock explores the world of product placement, marketing and advertising in The Greatest Movie Ever Sold, a film that was fully financed through product placement from various brands, all of which are integrated transparently into the film.

The Innkeepers from Glass Eye Pix* and directed by Ti West

After over one hundred years of service, The Yankee Pedlar Inn is shutting its doors for good. The last remaining employees -Claire (Sara Paxton) and Luke (Pat Healy)- are determined to uncover proof of what many believe to be one of New England's most haunted hotels. As the Inn’s final days draw near, odd guests check in as the pair of minimum wage “ghost hunters” begin to experience strange and alarming events that may ultimately cause them to be mere footnotes in the hotel’s long unexplained history.

*The Innkeepers is one of the few Glass Eye Pix films that did not shoot in the Hudson Valley.

Marwencol by Jeff Malmberg

SXSW is doing a repeat screening of Marwencol - a documentary [filmed in New York's Hudson Valley] about the fantasy world of Mark Hogancamp. After being beaten into a brain-damaging coma by five men outside a bar, Mark builds a 1/6th scale World War II-era town in his backyard. Mark populates the town he dubs Marwencol with dolls representing his friends and family and creates life-like photographs detailing the town's many relationships and dramas. Playing in the town and photographing the action helps Mark to recover his hand-eye coordination and deal with the psychic wounds of the attack. When Mark and his photographs are discovered, a prestigious New York gallery sets up an art show. Suddenly Mark's homemade therapy is deemed "art", forcing him to choose between the safety of his fantasy life in Marwencol and the real world that he's avoided since the attack.

Marwencol recently won the AVEENO Truer than Fiction Award and won Best documentary at the 2010 Woodstock Film Festival.

My Life with Carlos by German Berger-Hertz

My Life with Carlos (which screened at 2010 WFF) is the journey of a son (director German Berger-Hertz) trying to learn the truth about his father, who was killed in 1973 in Pinochet's Chile. Deeply-personal, poetic, and suspenseful, the film chronicles the heroic actions that led to Carlos Berger's death and the devastating effect it had on his family. In this powerful cinematic document, Berger-Hertz confronts not only the horrors of his country's past but also his own.

Silver Bullets directed by Joe Swanberg

An actress and her filmmaker boyfriend experience turbulence in their relationship when she accepts a role in a werewolf film. The actress connects with her new director while her boyfriend spirals into a dangerous depression.

Source Code directed by Duncan Jones, starring Hudson Valley resident Vera Farmiga

When soldier Captain Colter Stevens (Jake Gyllenhaal) wakes up in the body of an unknown man, he discovers he’s part of a mission to find the bomber of a Chicago commuter train. In an assignment unlike any he’s ever known, he learns he’s part of a government experiment called the Source Code, a computer program that enables him to cross over into another man's identity in the last 8 minutes of his life.

Super directed by James Gunn, starring Woodstock native Liv Tyler, Upstater (CT) Kevin Bacon and Produced by WFF Advisory Board Member Ted Hope

When sad-sack loser Frank (Rainn Wilson) sees his ex-addict wife (Liv Tyler) willingly snatched by a seductive drug dealer (Kevin Bacon), he finds himself bereft and wholly unable to cope. But soon he decides to fight back under the guise of a DIY superhero called Crimson Bolt. With a hand-made suit, a wrench, and a crazed sidekick named Boltie (Ellen Page), the Crimson Bolt beats his way through the mean streets of crime in hopes of saving his wife.

The Felice Brothers will be playing SXSW Music on March 19.

Our homegrown friends, The Felice Brothers and their long time friends and band mates Greg Farley and Christmas Clapton, will be heading out the SXSW as part of an extended tour. Check out the dates online. On March 26, you can catch them locally at Club Helsinki in Hudson.

We're anxious to hear the new album which was recorded in Beacon. The band will release their fifth full-length album with Fat Possum Records on May 10.

Their rambling journey so far has brought them from busking in Woodstock and New York City subway stations, to tours across the world that have included enthusiastically received performances at major music festivals including Bonnaroo, All Points West, Outside Lands, and Langerado.

Check out their two videos - Frankies Gun and Trouble Been Hard (both directed by Laurent Rejto)


Phil Ochs: There But for Fortune film opened in Los Angeles March 4th.

As our country continues to embroil itself in foreign wars and pins its hopes on a new leader’s promise for change, Phil Ochs: There But for Fortune is a timely and relevant tribute to an unlikely American hero. Over the course of meteoric music career that spanned two turbulent decades, Phil Ochs sought the bright lights of fame and social justice in equal measure – a contradiction that eventually tore him apart. From youthful idealism to rage to pessimism, the arch of Ochs’ life paralleled that of the times, and the anger, satire and righteous indignation that drove his music also drove him to dark despair. In this brilliantly constructed film, interview and performance footage of Ochs is illuminated by the reflections of Joan Baes, Tom Hayden, Pete Seeger, Sean Penn, Peter Yarrow, Christopher Hitches, Ed Sanders and Others.

These were just some quotes that were in the information she sent to me about the film.
“A TERRIFIC DOCUMENTARY. An uncompromising artist who believed in the power of music as a tool for social and political change.” –THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER

“A MUST-SEE. An essential portrait of an artisit who ought to be far better known.” –ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY

“Fill with passion, humor, idealism, intelligence and perfect songs.” –LA WEEKLY

White Irish Drinkers

2010 WFF Audience Award Winner White Irish Drinkers is set to hit theaters March 25.

None would envy the lives of Danny and Brian Leary, brothers trapped in blue collar Brooklyn, circa 1975, in a family where brutality is the norm. Petty criminal Danny (Geoff Wigdor) takes the brunt of the punishment doled out by Patrick (Steven Lang), their tyrannical, alcoholic father, as long-suffering wife and mother Margaret (Karen Allen), stands by helplessly. Brian (Nick Thurston), afraid to reveal his talents, works for the hapless Whitey (Peter Riegert) at the nearly defunct Layfeyette movie theater. Shauna (Leslie Murphy), Brian’s love interest, strikes the perfect note of rough-edged authenticity as she, too, struggles to escape. Alternately tender and violent and peppered with humor, this is smart and suspenseful storytelling where the ties that bind can also break a family, and childhood memories haunt and deceive. Writer-director John Gray skillfully turns tragedy to triumph with an ending bound to shock and surprise. Powerful, well-crafted and thoroughly engaging. (Barbara Pokras, A.C.E.)

Henry's Crime

2010 WFF Official Selection Henry's Crime is set to hit theaters in limited release on April 8.

Sleepwalking his way through life, Henry (Keanu Reeves) gets an unexpected wake-up call when he becomes an unwitting participant in a bank heist. Rather than give up the names of the real culprits, he takes the fall and discovers his true calling. Having done the time, Henry reasons he may as well do the crime. Discovering a forgotten tunnel connecting the bank to a nearby theater, he recruits his old cell mate Max (James Caan) to aid in the robbery, all the while playing the lead in the theater’s current production where he finds himself falling for his leading lady, Julie (Vera Farmiga).


Gary and Parker Posey at 2002 WFF
panel for Personal Velocity

Jonas Mekas and Gary Winick

Remembering Our Dear Friend Gary

On Sunday evening, during a Woodstock Film Festival viewing party for the Academy Awards, we received the word that Gary Winick had passed away, and our joy over Melissa Leo's Oscar win immediately turned into deep sadness. 

Gary (49 years young) was one of the pioneers of independent film and a staple of the NY filmmaking community. I met him in 2002 when John Sloss introduced us, and immediately fell in love. During our lunch Gary told me about his vision for InDigEnt, the digital production company he co-founded with John Sloss of Cinetic Media and Caroline Kaplan and Jonathan Sehring of IFC. I was impressed with his care and passion and his vision to produce at least 10 quality films with seasoned directors and cast members on a micro budget. At that time Gary also spoke about his relationship with NYU and his goal to connect students with InDigEnt, something that demonstrated his sense of community building and his innate support of the emerging filmmakers.

The Woodstock Film Festival had the opportunity to show many of the InDigEnt films including Personal Velocity (which was filmed locally), Sam the Man, Pieces of April, Lonesome Jim and Chelsea Walls. We had the honor and joy of hosting Gary a number of times, as a panelist and as a filmmaker. Like each and every person who ever met Gary, I can second the fact that Gary was truly one of the finest human beings in the film industry. While he eventually moved on from independent film production to directing Hollywood films (Charlotte’s Web, 13 Going On 30, Letters to Juliet) his humble, caring and generous spirit remained the same and his support of the independent film community never wavered. Our community has lost one of its most beloved pillars. Gary will be deeply missed and never forgotten. (Meira Blaustein) Read more online at Remembering Gary Winick: Caroline Kaplan, Jennifer Garner, Jason Kliot and More


Lisa Gossels: "Someone to Watch"

Congratulations to WFF friend and fest veteran, Lisa Gossels. Lisa is one of three filmmakers to be presented with a “Someone to Watch” Award at the 27th Cleveland International Film Festival. The purpose of this program is to highlight the works of mid-career filmmakers who CIFF believes to be rising stars in international filmmaking. Lisa’s second film My So Called Enemy screened at the 11th Annual Woodstock Film Festival and has won 3 awards in the festival circuit.

For more on this story, see Someone to Watch.


first winter
On location in Goshen with First Winter

Zosia Mamet (Photo by Jacob Hutchings)

Rick Petco, Laurent Rejto, MikeAmmirati, Mark Braunstein, Dwight Craver, Adam Moyer at the OCC Shop in Newburgh

2011 is off to an amazing start with three features already in the can or in production. At least ten more films are in the pipeline including Predisposed, and a still unannounced major blockbuster production set for the fall. The Hudson Valley Film Commission will release details about other impending productions as they become public. Some of the names bantered about include Javier Bardeen, Jesse Eisenberg, Frank Langella, Melissa Leo, Tracy Morgan, Kristin Stewart, Julianne Moore, Mark Ruffalo and Meg Ryan. That list includes 5 (FIVE!) 2011 Oscar Nominees.

First Winter recently wrapped production in Goshen, NY. The film was written and directed by Benjamin Dickinson. The production team behind the feature film is Ghost Robot, which has filmed locally before with films including Against the Current and Cropsey. The film draws on the experiential, ecstatic filmmaking styles of artists like Malick and Tarkovsky, the raw intensity of Cassavettes, and the American literary traditions of Thoreau and Emerson. It's December 2012, when a massive collapse of infrastructure leaves a group of Brooklyn yogis snowed-in at a country farmhouse without electricity, cell phone reception, or running water. With nothing to rely on but their wits, a couple of old books, and each other, they must survive the first winter off the grid.

Rhymes with Banana
begins Filming with Iacono, Mamet and Han
Shooting began today (March 9) in the Hudson Valley on Rhymes with Banana, a film starring Paul Iacono (Fame, The Hard Times of RJ Berger), Zosia Mamet (The Kids Are All Right, Mad Men), and Jee Young Han (The Art of Love). Rhymes with Banana is a satirical comedy, and the fourth film to be produced by BCDF Pictures, who shot Higher Ground; Peace, Love, & Misunderstanding; and The Art of Love in the region last year. Read the full release online.

Recently, Laurent Rejto from HVFC, joined by Mark braunstein of Markertek and Dwight Craver from the NY State Governor's Office for Motion Picture and TV development had the pleasure of visiting with producer Adam Moyer and Jody Benett from Pilgrim Films & Television behind the scenes of the most successful reality show on TV—Orange County Choppers: Senior vs Junior.

After an extended hiatus, production started up again in Spring 2010 in Newburgh and Rock Tavern, NY on a seventh season for the Discovery Channel. Between Senior and Junior, each production crew has between 8-9 member. The shooting scehdule in 2010 included over 280 production days. The economic impact of TV production on the series, not to mention the two companies Orange County Choppers and Paul Jr. Designs. for Orange County and the region is phenomenal.