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THE STUDENT LEDGER- A NEW COLUMN
We're tickled to report that Francine, produced by Canadian-based Pigeon Projects, and filmed in the Hudson Valley region during the summer of 2010, is making headlines at the Berlin Film Festival. Two excerpts with links to full reviews/articles can be found below.
Melissa Leo won an Oscar in 2011 for her searing portrait as the mother from hell in The Fighter, and she stays busy with an endless list of TV and movie roles. But she always has her eye out for something interesting. So when she looked at the website of the Hudson Valley Film Commission - Leo lives in Upstate New York - she saw an upcoming project that might be suitable.
Two Official Selections from the 2011 WFF lineup were nominated for important awards at the Cinema for Peace Awards at the Berlin Film Festival.
WFF 2011 Winner of the Best Short Documentary Award, Poetry of Resilience, directed by Katja Esson, was nominated for the Most Valuable Documentary of the Year Award by Cinema for Peace.
Meanwhile Dani Menkin and Yonatan Nir's Dolphin Boy was nominated for the International Green Film Award.
Cinema for Peace is a worldwide initiative that promotes "humanity through film while inviting members of the international film community to attend the annual Cinema for Peace Award-Gala-Night during the Berlin International Film Festival." (Cinema for Peace)
Approaching the Paris Theater in NYC the morning of Friday February 10, one person after the other stopped in awe to look at the marquee - all three sides bearing Bingham Ray's name in large letters, and underneath reading - A Celebration. Some gasped, some shed a sudden tear, many stopped to take a photo.
On the start of the Berlin Film Festival, it was amazing to see the Paris Theater overflowing with so many people from the film industry who had delayed their trip to Berlin in order to attend Bingham's Memorial Celebration. John Turturro, Patricia Clarkson, Oliver Platt, James Schamus, Michael Barker and Tom Bernard, Eamonn Bowels, Mark Urman, Jonathan Sehring, Christine Vachon, Peter Hedges, Ira Deutchman, John and Janet Pierson, Richard Abramowitz, Eugene Hernandez, Ted and Vanessa Hope...it was a full house, just the way Bingham would have liked it.
Hundreds of friends and colleagues lingered inside the large theater, exchanging hugs, memories and thoughts until the lights finally dimmed and the tribute officially began. The next two and a half hours were filled with humorous and emotional stories and reflections about the Bing told by his many close friends and colleagues, interlaced with video clips, photo slides, live music, an old 16 mm film Bingham had made in his youth and a film montage created by the heads of Sony Picture Classics.
One of the many moments that made me smile was when Pieces of April was mentioned. Each year Bingham would bring a film to the Woodstock Film Festival. In 2003, we screened Pieces of April courtesy of United Artists and Bingham Ray. It was one of his favorite films, a film he championed for a long time. When we brought it to the festival Bingham came up, as he always did, and brought with him the film's writer/director Peter Hedges as well as all the producers, and they all participated in a panel - A Case Study of Pieces of April.
From the stage at the memorial John Pierson recalled how Bingham cared and talked so much about Pieces of April and about Peter Hedges. I was sitting right behind Peter and so I know how touched he was by John's words.
A few minutes later Jim Jarmusch took the stage saying he wasn't scheduled to speak but he couldn't stand it... he recalled waking up one early morning to a phone call from Bingham who told him he just had a son and asked him to guess his name. Jim couldn't, too early for guessing he said... Bingham laughed and said - "His name is Nick. Get it? Nick Ray!" Since Bingham knew how much Jim loved and admired Nicholas Ray, that early phone call suddenly made a lot of sense.... -Meira Blaustein
Journalist David D'Arcy (frequent Woodstock Film Festival participant and and one of Bingham's oldest friends) wrote this wonderful piece hours following the memorial - Read it on Indiewire
Sundance 2012 was an extremely successful venture for several films that WFF was following with big sales and big prizes. Here is a run-down of all the action in the mountains of Park City.
Beasts of the Southern Wild (Fox Searchlight)
Liberal Arts (IFC Films)
The Surrogate (Fox Searchlight)
Safety Not Guaranteed (Film District)
Bachelorette (The Weinstein Company)
For more on WFF and Hudson Valley Associated Films that secured distributions at Sundance head here.
Not only were films with ties to WFF picked up for distribution, but there were also some big winners in Award Categories.
The darling of this year's Sundance Film Festival, Behn Zeitlin's feature debut not only picked up distribution but snagged two impressive prizes including the granddaddy of them all, the Dramatic Grand Jury Prize! Ben Richardson also won the award for Excellence in Cinematography for his spectacular work on the film. If you saw Behn Zeitlin's Glory at Sea, then you are familiar with Richardson's work behind the lens as he partnered with Zeitlin on that production as well. The film also picked up the inaugural Sundance Institute Indian Paintbrush Producer’s Award, which carries with it a $10,000 grant.
Safety Not Guaranteed- The Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award
Writer Derek Connolly was honored for the screenplay for this wacky comedy produced by Jay and Mark Duplass (2005 WFF's The Puffy Chair) along with WFF Advisory Board member Peter Saraf.
Sundance wasn't the only festival going on in the mountains of Park City the last two weeks, Slamdance opened its doors for its 2012 edition and one very big award went to a film that was shot in part in the Hudson Valley.
Welcome to Pine Hill- Grand Jury Sparky Award for Feature Narrative
Welcome to Pine Hill filmed for several days in Pine Hill, Margaretville and Phoenicia, NY and has now won the Grand Jury Prize at Slamdance. The film is a unique blend of narrative and documentary as it features Shannon Harper playing himself. Harper is "a recently reformed drug dealer, now working as a claims adjuster by day and bouncer by night. When Shannon receives earth-shattering news, he is compelled to make peace with his past and search for freedom beyond the concrete jungle of New York City." (Slamdance)
For a complete rundown on all the films that won Awards check out the WFF Blog here.
Welcome to the Student Ledger, a new intern-run column providing a behind the scenes glimpse with Woodstock Film Festival alumni filmmakers, including current projects and personal insights. Up this week is a glimpse into the mind of Tony Kaye with WFF Spring Intern Alana Davis.
"I recently asked the director of WFF’s 2011 Official Closing Night Film Detatchment, Tony Kaye, a few questions about his style, his projects, and his future plans. In his zany, but insightful way, Tony answered my questions in what we would bet (and Tony echoes this) comes close to the world’s longest sentence. Below are the questions that were asked and his response, which is much more entertaining to read than a boring old Q&A format, if you ask me." –Alana Davis
Read the entire interview on Blogger.
Windfall is the little documentary that could. The doc features the potential dark sides of local wind power in NY's Delaware County. The recent blog about the film's theatrical release garnered more hits than any other WFF blog since October. Windfall is directed by Laura Israel and the film was an official selection at WFF 2010. The film opened February 3 in NY, LA and Chicago.
Wind power. Clean, efficient, renewable, perfect…or so you thought. Windfall is the story of a community torn asunder by the not-so-gently blowing breeze. First-time director Laura Israel discovers a wholly surprising and troubling trend in the wind turbine farms springing up across the Northeast. Battles surge among friends, neighbors and family members over the giant turbines erected on their properties. Israel also touches on threatening health risks, dwindling property values and the controversial environmental value of the farms.
In a world struggling to come to terms with its growing energy needs and dependence on foreign oil, wind power seems a viable alternative. But as you will witness in this stirring documentary, the answers are not always so simple. (Michael Burke)
The horror flick that frightened audiences at the Woodstock Playhouse during the second annual Fright night at WFF 2011, crept its way into theaters on February 3.
Eva Green and Ewan McGregor burn up the screen in this romantic sci-fi, drama set in the near future where humans begin to lose their senses one by one. The picture opened February 10th in limited release. Perfect Sense is another 2011 WFF Official Selection and a hauntingly good story of loss and love. McGregor plays Michael, the chef of a posh restaurant who must compensate for each successive loss of sense to keep customers coming out. Meanwhile he falls for the beautiful Susan, a scientist attempting to cure the epidemic sweeping the globe and as the world crumbles the two cling to each other. "Is this because they are falling in love or is it because the world is falling apart? A life-affirming look at what it means to love and be loved in turbulent times, Perfect Sense is a chilly parable, a genre-busting poetic sci-fi film, rich in haunting ideas and imagery." (IFC Films)
Andrew Okpeaha MacLean’s stark thriller screened at WFF 2011 and won the Lee Marvin Award for Best Feature Film. Cinematographer Lol Crawley also captured the Haskell Wexler Award for Best Cinematography for his work on the film. The feature is based on his 2008 short film Sikumi, which screened at WFF 2008. The film opens on Friday, February 17 in NY and Alaska, with more cities to follow in the coming weeks. See On the Ice for a detailed list.
Set amidst the frozen landscape and the unrelenting summer sun of America’s northernmost city- Barrow, Alaska, On the Ice is Andrew MacLean’s stunning feature debut. Two Iñupiat teens, Qalli and Aivaaq, struggle with the daily monotony of life- listening to rap music, drinking and seal hunting. This tedium explodes when the unthinkable happens, and an argument between the two teens and another friend ends in tragedy. Shocked and horrified, the two make an ill-fated pact to cover up the accident and their choice leads them to construct a poorly built tower of lies. In addition to brilliant cinematography, On the Ice features standout performances by Josiah Patkotak as the guilt-ridden Qalli, Frank Irelan as the troubled Aivaaq and Teddy Kyle Smith as Qalli’s stoic father. On the Ice combines the stark loneliness of The Sweet Hereafter with a coming-of-age tale about misplaced honor and desperation." (Michael Burke)
Upstate Films Rhinebeck will hold a special screening of Director Tobe Carey's documentary film Sweet Violets on the history of Rhinebeck as the capital of the Violet industry Saturday, February 18 at 1pm. The screening will be free on a first come, first serve basis. Tobe Carey is a Hudson Valley documentary filmmaker working through the not for profit arts group-Willow Mixed Media.
"Sweet Violets is a documentary about the commercial violet industry in Rhinebeck, NY when it was the Violet Capital of the World. At its peak in 1912, growers shipped more than five million blooms for Easter by train from Rhinecliff Station.
By the roaring 20's violets began to be replaced by other corsage flowers. Now, one remaining strip of cultivated violets grows in an anemone greenhouse outside Rhinebeck. In the late winter and early spring deep purple Frey's Fragrant violets are picked for culinary purposes and bunched for the occasional Valentine's Day bouquet." (Willow Mixed Media)
Tobe is a three-time WFF alum. His films Deep Water: Building The Catskill Water System and Indian Point - Nowhere to Run were official selections of WFF '02 and '03 and School Board Blues took to the WFF screens in 2004.
And She Was
On a summer afternoon in 1998, six-year-old Iris Neff walked away from a barbecue in her small suburban town . . . and vanished.
Missing persons investigator Brenna Spector has a rare neurological disorder that enables her to recall every detail of every day of her life. A blessing and a curse, it began in childhood, when her older sister stepped into a strange car never to be seen again, and it's proven invaluable in her work. But it hasn't helped her solve the mystery that haunts her above all others—and it didn't lead her to little Iris. When a local woman, Carol Wentz, disappears eleven years later, Brenna uncovers bizarre connections between the missing woman, the long-gone little girl . . . and herself.
It's been a very busy time for films with Hudson Valley roots. While Francine is making headlines in Berlin, Liberal Arts and Bachelorette (both from Hudson Valley based BCDF Pictures) have cut purchase deals. In Our Nature, which was filmed in the region during summer 2011 will world premiere next month at SXSW. Meanwhile, Peace, Love & Misunderstanding (also from BCDF) is being prepped for a Mother's Day rollout, and Return is set for distribution on VOD beginning Feb 28.
Shot locally in the Newburgh-Beacon area and written and directed by Liza Johnson, Return is the story of a young woman (Cardellini) who must adjust to civilian life after coming home from the war in Afghanistan. The film will be available for on-demand viewing beginning February 28.
Although Return is set in Ohio, producer Noah Harlan said the Hudson Valley setting was a perfect fit: "Newburgh made a lot of sense for us. The area had the look we were looking for - a mixture of a kind of de-industrialized landscape with a lot of natural beauty and the river." In addition to shooting in Newburgh and Beacon, Return made filming stops in Walden, New Windsor and Cornwall. As part of the production process, a new facility was certified in Newburgh, with help from the Hudson Valley Film Commission.
Meanwhile Killer Films is set to begin shooting locally in the Hudson Valley at the end of February and several other productions are looking for locations. To see the location needs have a look at the latest HVFC BLOG!
We're proud to announce that the Toronto-based distribution company FILMSWELIKE, launched by award-winning documentary filmmaker Ron Mann and veteran Toronto film and music promoter Gary Topp, has come on board as sponsor of the feature length documentary award at WFF.
Select films from FILMSWELIKE include Bill Cunningham New York, Buck, Cannibal Girls, Dance Party USA, Dogtooth, Examined Life, Know Your Mushrooms, LennonNYC, Mana Byond belief, Mutual Appreciation, My Dinner with Jimi, Rivers and Tides, Tales of the Rat Fink, Trunk Show, The Weather Underground.
The Woodstock Film Festival has opened its Call for Entries! Hurry over to woodstockfilmfestival.com and submit your feature, short, music video or teen film for consideration for the 13th Annual Woodstock Film Festival taking place October 10-14th, 2012. You can also submit through Withoutabox.com It’s shaping up to be our best year yet (we don’t let that number 13 scare us) and we want you to be a part of it.
Honoring unique vision and artistic quality, WFF's Maverick Awards are presented for Best Feature, Best Documentary, Best Short Documentary, Best Short Film, Best Student Film, Best Cinematography, Best Editing and Best Animation. Cash, prizes and/or services valued at well over $50,000 are given out. Audience Awards are presented for Best Feature and Best Documentary.
Award are sponsored by Gigantic Pictures, FilmWeLike, The Giving Back Foundation, Lowel Light, Panavision and Blue Sky.
Now it's even easier than ever to purchase the best festival gear on the planet including the cutest kids stuff around. Just go to WFF's Facebook and get started. Better yet if you like WFF on Facebook you will get a discount on any merchandise purchase until February 24th! You can even make a donation to the festival!
WFF & HVFC are looking for MATCHING CONTRIBUTIONS to help make our February Goal!
Our February Goal is to complete our Screening/Meeting Room by installing heat! We're looking to raise $2,500 in the month of February, to get to our goal of $5,000 to pay for a heating and air conditioning system.
Please consider making a tax-deductible contribution. See details about benefits and perks at woodstockfilmfestival.com/fundraising/capitalcampaign.php, or enter your donation amount directly through PayPal.