November 2004 Newsletter



Peter Gabriel and Mira Nair

Fisher Stevens & Matt Dillon

The 2004 Woodstock Film Festival celebrated its five year mark Wed. Oct. 13 through Sunday Oct.  17, with an exceptional collection of 120 films, panels, concerts, and special events in Woodstock, New York and the neighboring towns of Rhinebeck and Hunter.
The program kicked off in style with an evening of acoustic music by seven-time Grammy award-winner Bela Fleck and renowned bassist Edgar Meyer.
The roster of international films that followed included 12 World premieres, 2 North American premieres; 6 U.S. premieres, 22 East Coast premieres, and 15 New York premieres. Participating industry leaders include Newmarket Films, Miramax, Paramount Classics, Magnolia Pictures, Palm Pictures, THINKFilm, Showtime, United Artists/MGM, Wellspring and Sony Pictures Entertainment.
The 2004 Honorary Maverick Award was presented to illustrious director, writer, producer Mira Nair by musician/activist Peter Gabriel at a special Saturday night party. The festival’s top award is presented to an individual whose life and work is based on independent vision and social activism. Past recipients include Woody Harrelson, Tim Robbins, D.A. Pennebaker & Chris Hegedus and Les Blank.
Besides Nair and Gabriel, other key festival participants included Laura Linney, Sam Rockwell, Melissa Leo, Lili Taylor, Peter Riegert,  Brad Anderson, Dylan Kidd, Fisher Stevens, James Schamus, Bob Berney, Lydia Dean Pilcher, Jim Taylor, Ron Nyswaner, Michael Cristofer, John Sloss, Nicole Kassell, Gill Holland, Signe Baumane, Leon Gast, Brett Morgen, Liz Garbus, Ron English, Matt Dillon,  among others.
For a total wrap up including Award winners, visit

  Avoid Eye
As part of its dedication to year-round programming, the WOODSTOCK FILM FESTIVAL kicks off the CAN FILM FESTIVAL monthly screenings on December 18. In lieu of admission, bring a gift or food for donation to the local food pantry.
On Saturday, December 18, animator Signe Baumane presents a custom selection of works from "Avoid Eye Contact," Volume I and the upcoming Volume II.

This special animated shorts screening will feature top New York animators including: Aleksey Budovsky, Patrick Smith, Signe Baumane, John Dilworth, George Griffin, Bill Plympton, PES.
Beyond the art form, "Avoid Eye Contact" is truly visionary in terms of commercial distribution. Animator Signe Baumane states, “The entire production of this DVD has been done by the animators themselves. The look and quality of this volume would not have been possible without the animators taking complete control”.
“To say this is a must-have is an understatement... with Roy Disney gone, this kind of material will be harder to come by. I highly recommend it” -Jerry Beck, Author, Animation Historian
The screening will be presented December 18, 8pm at the Woodstock Community Center on Rock City Road. Additional information including clips and the Volume I DVD,  is available on the artist-run website

Down to the Bone




The Pioneer

The Winner of the Best Feature Award at this years 2004 Woodstock Film Festival will screen Tuesday, December 21 @ 7pm at the Two Boots Pioneer Theater in NYC to kick off the Woodstock FIlm Festival bi-monthly NYC screening series.
Helmed by Debra Granik, "Down to the Bone" focuses on the life of Irene (Vera Farmiga) and her struggles to raise two sons, keep her stale marriage together, and manage a secret cocaine habit.  Isolated in a dead-end job at a strip mall on the edge of town, Irene isn’t sure when she went from high school partying to skimming off the grocery money to supply her growing habit.
For more info, visit year round events or "Down to the Bone."
The Two Boots Pioneer Theater is located at 155 East 3rd Street (at Avenue A) in NYC
Tel. (212) 254-3300
Tickets: $9.00, $6.50 members


On Saturday, January 8 @ 8pm at Town Hall on Tinker Street in Woodstock, join us for a special screening of Philip Farha's "Messengers," featuring Michele Hicks, Erik Jensen, Fankie Faison, Annie Golden, Amy Wright and Woodstock legend John Sebastian.
It's winter in the quiet fishing village of Brighton Mills when the town doctor suddenly dies. His patients panic. There seems to be no one else who understands their special needs. When his daughter, the cool and logical Dr. Sarah Chapel returns home, she embarks on a quest to find out why he had been medicating his patients when their only ailments seem to be an inability to get sick and die. Digging deeper into the unusual atmosphere of Brighton Mills, Sarah tries to make sense of her father's interest in the paranormal, and the paranoid townspeople who can't seem to find relief from the voices that haunt them. For more info, visit year round events or Messengers


Ron Mann’s life altering “Go Further” (WFF 2003) hits the road for on its much deserved theatrical tour. This film will make you a better person. DO NOT MISS IT! Look for the film at the Nu Art in Los Angles and Cinema East Village in New York.
Calling his new movie an “Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test on Tofu”, award-winning documentary director Ron Mann (“Grass,” “Twist”) joins actor/activist Woody Harrelson as he pilots a hemp-fuelled bus on an eco-consciousness raising incursion down the beautiful  Pacific Coast.
Their goal? To show the people they encounter that there are viable alternatives to our habitual, environmentally-destructive behaviors.
The travelers include a yoga-teacher, a raw food chef, a hemp-activist,  a junk-food addict, and a college student who suspends her life  to impulsively hop aboard. We see the hostility these pilgrims encounter, and watch as their ideas are challenged from within and without.
Go Further” is a musical-eco-road movie about activism and sustainable living.  It won last years audience award at the Toronto Film Festival, played to packed houses at international festivals and has picked up rave reviews. The amazing soundtrack features Dave Mathews, Nathalie Merchant, Ken Kesey, Bob Weir, Michael Franti. Anthony Kiedis, Medeski, Martin & Wood, and String Cheese Incident.

This Friday, Magnolia Pictures rolls out Robert Stones remarkable doc Guerrilla: The Taking of Patty Hearst(WFF 2004) at the Angelika Film Center in New York, the Nu Art in Los Angeles, Lumiere in San Francisco and Act 1&2 in Berkeley, California.
"Robert Stone's brilliant chronology of the SLA uses disembodied voices, first hand accounts and extensive archival footage to create a portrait of young people responding to the horrors of war and social inequality. With images of Robin Hood and the saga of Patty Hearst at its core, were these SLA 'soldiers' revolutionaries, terrorists or true patriots?" (Barbara Pokras for WFF) 

Confirming the extraordinary promise of his debut, Dylan Kidd’s P.S. is a film as disarmingly lovely and romantic as Roger Dodger was acerbic and cutting.

Louise Harrington (Laura Linney), a divorced, thirty-something admission’s officer at Columbia University’s School of Fine Arts is intelligent, pretty, successful, and. . . unfulfilled. That is, until a graduate school application crosses her desk and she arranges to interview the young painter. When Scott Feinstadt (Topher Grace) appears, he bears an uncanny resemblance to Louise’s high school boyfriend and one true love, an artist who died in a car accident twenty years earlier. Within hours of the interview, Louise and Scott have embarked on a passionately uninhibited older woman/younger man affair. But is Scott just a reminder of Louise’s lost love? And is Scott just trying to wheedle his way into the Ivy League?

P.S., based on Helen Schulman's novel of the same name, shot entirely in New York City, is a romantic fable about getting a second chance at first love. The film opened the 2004 Woodstock FIlm Festival. For additional info, visit "p.s."

Also opening the Woodstock Film Festival this year with an introduction from director Brad Anderson was "The Machinist."

 If you haven't checked the super spooky performance by Christian Bale, check it out now in theaters. Trevor Reznik has a truly epic case of insomnia: he hasn't slept a wink in over a year. And if the decline of his physical and mental health weren't bad enough, he's also lost the respect of his co-workers, who shun him after his maladies lead to a horrific industrial accident. In the days that follow, Freddy is convinced they want him fired ... or worse. As the increasingly distraught Trevor, Christian Bale is a study in nightmarish paranoia in Brad Anderson's gritty psychological thriller. (Jeff Economy for WFF)

Director of photography Xavi Giménez was awarded the Haskell Wexler Award for Best Cinematography for his work on "The Machinist" at the 2004 Woodstock Film Festival. The award is sponsored by Kodak. For additional info, visit The Machinist.

Part time Woodstocker Jim Taylor co-wrote this critical BLOCKBUSTER with long time collaborator Alexander Payne. The film stars Paul Giamatti as man  who has failed at writing and marriage. With his his has-been actor pal Jack (Thomas Haden Church) the two travel through California's wine country to examine the vagaries of life.

Jim world premiered his brilliant short film  "The Lost Cause" at the 2004 Woodstock Film Festival and appeared on the Writer's Guild of America East sponsored screenwriting panel with Ron Nyswaner, Peter Riegert and Michael Cristofer.

"Peter Gabriel - Play: The Videos" ” hits stores everywhere for the holidays. This compilation DVD includes all the music videos created by Peter Gabriel over the past twenty years from the incredibly campy “Modern Love” (1977) to Sean Penn’s “The Barry Williams Show” (2004). The collection includes four music videos by recent WFF attendees including the tender, heartfelt “Father, Son” by daughter Anna Gabriel (“Growing up on Tour”). Matt Mahurin (“I Like Killing Flies”) is represented with two videos including “Red Rain,” and “Mercy Street,” and Brett Leonard with “Kiss that Frog.” In addition to presenting some of the most innovative music videos of our times, the DVD also features new surround sound mixes. This is a Santa must.

Also available on DVD as an added bonus to the Bela Fleck, Edgar Meyer music CD "Music for Two" is Sascha Paladino's WFF award winning short doc "Obstinato: Making Music for Two." The film and music are a worthy addition to any music/film collection.
Three other films, all featured at the 2003 Woodstock Film Festival are also available
at DVD outlets including "Bus 174,”  “The Agronomist,” (produced by WFF advisory board member Peter Saraf) and “Wilbur Wants to Kill HImself.”


WFF advisory board member Zachary Sklar (JFK) is in production in the Dominican Republic on “The Feast of the Goat.” Based on the novel of the same name by Mario Vargas-Llosa, the film is about the dictatorship and assassination of Generalissimo Trujillo in the Dominican Republic. Filming began in October in Santo Domingo, and continues in Spain through December. The film is directed by Luis Llosa, produced by Andres Vicente Gomez of Spain, and features Isabella Rossellini, Tomas Milian (Traffic), Eileen Atkins.  Zachary is the co-writer with Augusto Cabado, and Luis Llosa.

The pix should be finished some time next summer.

  Blue Days, Black Nights : A Memoir


If you missed Ron Nyswaner's book talk and booksigning at the film festival, order the book at your local bookstore or online. With "Blue Days, Black Nights : A Memoir " WFF advisory board member Ron Nyswaner, screenwriter of "Philadelphia," "Soldier's Girl" has written a memorable and intimate memoir, which has garnered rave reviews including the following from director Jonathan Demme.

"A brilliant and inspirational vision of love, death and spiritual redemption in 20th Century America. Ron Nyswaner's account of his struggle with real life demons great and small is gripping, harrowing and sometimes shockingly intimate. It is heartbreaking and yes-it is also very, very funny indeed. It delivers an emotional intensity that fiction, by comparison, can only hope to achieve."

  Vanity Fair


If you missed Maverick Award-winner Mira Nair's appearance and book signing at the recent film festival, don't miss your opportunity to get this gorgeous book.

In addition to the complete screenplay by Oscar®-winner Julian Fellowes ("Gosford Park") and Matthew Faulk & Mark Skeet, this Newmarket Pictorial Moviebook features over 150 full-color illustrations, extracts from Thackeray's novel, interviews with the cast and crew, notes by director Mira Nair, and sidebars on the film's costume, set, and production design.


Phil Bertelsen at 200 WFF



Larry Fessenden at 2001 WFF



The Woodstock Film Festival is delighted that its efforts to bring "War of the Worlds" to the Hudson Valley/Catskills panned out. The production will result in serious local economic development and further enhance the Hudson Valley/Catskills as an ideal location for film production.
The science fiction story about an invasion of Martian spaceships stars Tom Cruise and is scheduled to use Athens, NY as the setting for a scene where people are running down a street to catch a departing ferry. A recent casting call was held for 1,000 extras. Production starts in early December. 

On August 11, the WFC was contacted to scout for a "ferry boat landing" and "valley farmhouse." With  Bill Stitt, the WFC scouted locations, sent photos and suggestions to location scouts for Paramount Pictures. They originally did not want to travel north of Cornwall and were considering Cold Spring at the time. We persisted and suggested a helicopter scout. Through that introduction to local pilot Bill Richards, the Spielberg folks ended up at the present location in Athens, NY. Bill, an accomplished film pilot has been working non-stop with the production team since the initial intro.

Working under the auspices of the festival, the Woodstock Film Commission has consistently developed sustainable economic initiatives in the Hudson Valley/Catskill region by attracting, supporting and promoting regional film, video, and media production including feature films, television shoots, print media, short films, and TV ads. To facilitate local production, the commission provides and constantly updates its online location info and free production services directory to service the film, fashion and media industries.

Films produced in the Woodstock/Hudson Valley area with help from the Woodstock Film Commission also have a winning record at the Sundance Film Festival. There must be something creative in the air up here. We like to tell people that if they produce their films locally, they'll win a major award at Sundance. It's no guarantee, but "Personal Velocity" (2002) and "Down to the Bone" (2004) are two fine examples.
We'll be keeping a close eye on recent productions including:
"Down to the Bone" producer Susan Leber recently produced "Ghost Dance" in Hudson, New York. Directed by Allen Blumberg, the film, set in 1950s America, is about corruption and racism in a small town, and the efforts of a Chinese-American newspaper reporter to expose the misdeeds of the town's mayor and police officials. Local actor Gregor Trieste played the principal part of the masked man in the upcoming film.
Phil Bertelsen (winner of the 2000 Woodstock Film Festival for Best short doc) just directed "Rock the Paint," starring Martin Donovan and Olympia Dukakis, in Jersey City and Woodstock. "Rock the Paint" is a sports action drama about a widower, his two sons and their attempts to fit into a new world transplanted from the Indiana cornfields (Woodstock) to the streets of Newark, New Jersey.
Gus Van Sant (“Elephant,” “Gerry,” “Good Will Hunting,” “Finding Forrester”) recently shot "Last Days," about Kurt Cobain entirely in the Peekskill area. "Last Days" will have a semi-documentary visual style and won't really offer any conclusions as to why a Cobain-like character (Michael Pitt) killed himself, although there will be plenty of hints and suggestions in this fictionalized setting.

Sharon Stone, Jessica Lange, Tilda Swinton and Chloe Sevigny recently starred alongside Bill Murray in director Jim Jarmusch's "Untitled Project." Filming took place in northern New Jersey and upstate New York. Local Actor/Director Larry Fessenden, who is in Iceland directing his follow-up to "Wendigo" got to punch Bill Murray out for several takes in his appearance as Will. The WFC set the filmmakers up with post production digs in Kingston,  NY so the entire film will be edited locally.
For more info, visit

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Every fall, film and music lovers from around the world
gather in Woodstock, Rhinebeck and Hunter  for an exhilarating variety of films, first class concerts, celebrity-led panels, workshops, a closing-night awards ceremony, and superlative parties.

Participants and visitors find themselves in a friendly, casual setting, conducive to creativity, exciting opportunities and a good time, surrounded by some of the most beautiful landscapes in the world. If you'd like to come on board as a sponsor or contributor for 2005, please visit for info or call (845) 6799-4265.

The Woodstock Film Festival is a not-for-profit, 501 (C) 3 organization with a mission to present an annual program and year-round schedule of film, music, and art-related activities that promote artists, culture, inspired learning, and diversity. The Woodstock Film Commission promotes sustainable economic development by attracting and supporting film, video and media production.

The Woodstock FIlm Festival is made possible in part with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts, a State Agency

The Woodstock Film Festival newsletter is compiled and written by Laurent Rejto. If you would like to contribute a story idea, email

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