photo by Ilene Marder
Vera Farmiga and Meira Blaustein
in Sundance

Photo credit: Sebastian Mlynarski
Vera Farmiga and Jasper Daniels


Locally shot film wins for Best Director and Best Actor

In 2002, "Personal Velocity," which was shot in Woodstock and surrounding areas, won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance. When the 2004 Sundance awards were handed out for 2004, the directing prize for dramatic feature was awarded to Debra Granik for her film "Down to the Bone," which was produced in the Woodstock, Saugerties and Kingston area.

New Paltz resident Vera Farmiga earned a special-jury prize for her performance in the film, which also stars Hugh Dillon, Clint Jordan, Caridad De La Luz, and Woodstocker Jasper Daniels.
Of the film,  Stephen Garrett wrote:
Many movies in the dramatic competition deal with people not seeking new experiences but struggling to escape old ones. Addiction drives Debra Granik's "Down to the Bone," a starkly fresh take on people trying desperately to kick their drug habits. Vera Farmiga turns in a powerful performance as a married woman with kids fighting to clean up her act but always close to sliding back into her old ways. Tough, unsentimental dialogue and a hard ending help "Bone" to circumvent the pitfalls of this overworn subgenre. (read the full article in

The Woodstock Film Commission acted as a local conduit for production in the Hudson Valley / Catskill region, and provided help with auditions, crew recruitments, and promotion. Key local crew members included Ulster County based location scout/location manager Michele Baker and head production assistant Hannah Lewis Rosenblum.


Sundance word of mouth for Hudson Valley resident Robert Stone's "Neverland: The Rise and Fall of the Symbionese Liberation Army," was huge. Variety's Robert Koehler wrote ..."Definitive docu about self-destructive fringe group of anti-Vietnam War movement responsible for 1974 kidnapping of Patty Hearst. Superbly researched and constructed, pic is an improvement over last year's "The Weather Underground." Docu is prime for the big screen where it should have vigorous play... Cinetic Media is handling U.S. theatrical distribution. During a phone call prior to his trip with the pix to Berlin, Stone expressed delight and optimism that distribution is imminent. For more info, visit "Neverland". 


Katja Esson's short doc about a group of women who gather each day in the powder room of the Staten Island Ferry, to put on their make-up and share their thoughts and problems was nominated for an Oscar in the category of Documentary short subject. The film, which screened at the 2003 Woodstock Film Festival, was edited by WFF advisory board member, Sabine Hoffman. For a link to the recent New York Times review, click here.

In other Sabine news, Hoffman was cited during an acceptance speech at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival  Awards show when "Brother to Brother" director Rodney Evans described Hoffman's work on his feature film as "brilliant, brilliant, brilliant."

Hoffman, who is presently editing Rebecca Miller's "Snake and the Rose," is scheduled to moderate and teach a Woodstock Film Festival editing seminar this coming summer. Stay tuned for more.

photo by Ben Caswell
Busy Mann


Over an amazing raw foods dinner (my first) at Miami's Food Without Fire, Ron Mann took time to share his thoughts on good eats, distribution plans for "Go Further" , the launch of Films we Like, and 'shrooms.

In early February, Ron Mann was at the Miami International Film Festival promoting "Go Further," his documentary about actor/activist (and 2003 Woodstock Film Festival Maverick Award Winner) Woody Harrelson. After multiple offers, Mann decided to go with Richard Abramowitz ("Zero Day," "Bluegrass Journey") for the U.S. Release, and Criterion for DVD sales. The film is slated to open this summer with theatrical runs in college towns.

Along with music/film promoter Gary Topp, Ron recently announced the launching of Film We Like, a NEW distribution company for independent films in Canada. Check out the new website at Films We Like. Their first release is "The Weather Underground," which was distributed in the states by Shadow Distribution in association with Hudson Valley based Upstate Films. "Weather Underground" has received a 2004 Oscar nomination for Best Documentary.

When asked about upcoming projects, Mann discussed his latest documentary project "The Mushroom Movie," which tackles the mushroom culture in much the same way "Grass" tackled marijuana. Part time Hudson Valley resident Jim Jarmusch ("Coffee and Cigarettes," "Ghost Dog") will be featured in the doc. (LR)

photo by Ben Caswell
Ryan Werner

Wellspring, the New York based theatrical and DVD/home video distributor of world cinema and documentaries ("Girlhood," "Girls Can't Swim," "In My Skin," "For Love of Julian") was recently acquired by American Vantage Media. As part of the move, Woodstock Film Festival 'competition programmer,' Ryan Werner, was hired as the new head of theatrical distribution. In an interview last week with Indiewire, Werner said, "...we want to be known for great relationships with filmmakers... I do think that there is a gap in that tradition that was really strong maybe ten years ago, of starting with the filmmaker and to the best of a your ability keeping it with the filmmaker. That is something that I admire about people like Bingham Ray. I would love it if we were also known for that."

Read more about the American Vantage Media acquisition and Ryan Werner in Indiewire.

photo by Ben Caswell
Larry Fessenden
By J.V. Sanders (from an article in The Chronogram)
Larry Fessenden’s work raises an occasional hackle. His 1991 film, No Telling, features a mad scientist with a penchant for stitching together bizarre living things out of unrelated animal parts. Although great pains were taken to ensure the well-being of cast members, four-legged and two-legged alike, some horror fans took umbrage at the simulated mutilation of cute, furry little critters. Of course, shocking the hell out of people is a big part of the genre—especially when it makes an important point. “My approach is to depict a heightened reality,” Fessenden says. “And what happens to animals in laboratories and slaughterhouses every day is a real-life horror that needed to be addressed.” Read the rest of the story in The Chronogram Read the rest of the story in The Chronogram.


Directed by Fred Isseks and his Middletown High School Electronic English Class

A film screening and student town meeting co-presented by WAMC Northeast Public Radio, and the Woodstock Film Festival.

Since 1991 Middletown High School students have been investigating and documenting the history and health implications of toxic waste disposal in the lower Hudson Valley, the primary source of drinking water for New York City. As part of their course work, they produced a documentary about the organized crime-figures, law-enforcement officers, politicians and state regulators who participated in pointless pollution, then kept it hidden. (Scheduled guests include Congressman Maurice Hinchey, Ward Stone, educator/filmmaker Fred Isseks, ex-Police Officer Armondo Bilancione, and student filmmakers.)

Friday, March 12 (Student Town Meeting) ­ Contact:

INTO THE FIRE: American Women in the Spanish Civil War
Introduced and directed by Julia Newman, Exemplary Films Inc.

"Hemingway, Dos Passos, Orwell, and other famous men have related their experiences during the Spanish Civil War; now we hear from some considerably less-known women, and their stories are vivid and moving tales that Hollywood could usefully adapt into big-screen fiction." Seattle Weekly

In July 1936, a right-wing military uprising tried to overthrow the new, legally elected, democratic government of Spain. Hitler and Mussolini quickly joined the fight in support of the rebel General Francisco Franco. In response, about eighty American women joined over 2700 of their countrymen in defiance of their government to volunteer for the Spanish Civil War, the first major battle against fascism. They were part of the International Brigades' 40,000 volunteers from fifty countries who came to fight for democracy in Spain. In 1996, sixty years after the start of the war, two of the American nurses returned to Spain with other survivors of the International Brigades to be given honorary citizenship in recognition of the heroic part they played in Spain's fight against fascism. Click for full synopsis. (Presented in conjunction with Inquiring Mind and Alternative Videos of Woodstock)

Friday, March 19 @ 7:30pm at Inquiring Mind in Saugerties

photo by Ben Caswell

MEDIUM COOL - Directed by Haskell Wexler

An Evening with Haskell Wexler

Where is the line between fantasy and reality? Check out "Medium Cool," and you'll have trouble finding it. Pioneering cinematographer Haskell Wexler got the bright idea that the 1968 Democratic National Convention would be a hotbed of riots (with Vietnam in its worst years, Martin Luther King recently assassinated, and a growing movement fed up with the government) and he was right. Wexler decided to make a (fictional) movie set during all of this -- but rather than wait until it was over and done with, he took a group of actors to ground zero, tossed them in among the cops and the protesters, and had them "act." The result is one of the most vibrant and eye-opening films ever made, a bit of fantasy that seems devastatingly real -- because, in large part, it is. The story -- about a jaded America during the 1960s -- has become more relevant than ever. (This event is made possible with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts, a State agency.)

The screening will be followed by a panel with Haskell Wexler, producer/director Pamela Yates (Presumed Guilty, Brotherhood of Hate)  and others, and will be taped to be aired on WAMC Northeast Public Radio at a later date.

Friday, March 26 @ 7pm at the Linda Norris Auditorium, 339 Central Avenue, Albany, NY

Erin Poll in "Patch"

Last October, filmmaker/artist Chris Romero started production on PATCH with a flashback sequence filmed in Woodstock, NY.  The remaining bulk of the production will take place March 15-20, 2004. A wonderful cast has been locked in place including Melissa Leo (21 Grams), Deborah Harry (Copland, Heavy), and Woodstockers Adam Blaustein Rejto, and Erin Poll. "Patch" is  a beautiful story about detours, near misses, and convergence. In addition to the film component, there is an accompanying installation and large format photograph series that are extensions of the linear narrative. Discussions for this larger piece are underway with several institutions, including The Guggenheim Museum and Site Santa Fe. For complete information, visit “Patch.”


photo by Ben Caswell
Barbara Hammer


RESISTING PARADISE Sundance Channel Premiere
A documentary by Barbara Hammer
Monday, February 16, 2004 @ 9pm, check out Resisting Paradise by part-time Woodstock resident Barbara Hammer. Posing the question, "Can art exist during a time of political crisis and war?" documentary filmmaker Barbara Hammer turns her lens on life in Southern France during World War II. As Henri Matisse and Pierre Bonnard created iconic canvasses celebrating physical pleasure and the Mediterranean light, some of their neighbors were risking their lives to save Jews who had fled to the south. In this cinematic personal essay, Hammer reveals some astounding true stories of bravery and how the worlds of art and political responsibility often intersect. Other screenings include Monday 02.23.2004 @ 7:30AM, Monday 02.23.2004 @ 4:45PM, Sunday 02.29.2004 @ 6:15AM (Screened WFF 2003)

MY BABUSHKA - Searching Ukrainian Identities Sundance Channel Premiere
A documentary by Barbara Hammer
Monday, February 16, 2004 @ 10:20pm, check out My Babushka - Searching Ukrainian Identities Sundance Channel Premiere by part-time Woodstock resident Barbara Hammer. Barbara, who has been called "the Stanley Kubrick of documentary filmmakers," travels to the former Soviet Union to investigate her maternal grandparents, and in the process discovers a region of emerging identities and cultural differences. As it gradually opens to the West, the Ukraine has had to deal with questions of human rights, feminism and a history of anti-Semitism. An eclectic group of contemporary Ukrainians talks with Hammer as they reflect on everything from the notorious massacre at Babi Yar to new definitions of sexuality. Other February screenings include Monday 02.23.2004 @ 6:05PM, Saturday 02.28.2004 @ 11:00AM

HORN & HALOS - Cinemax Premiere
Directed by Suki Hawley and Michael Galinsky

Wednesday, February 18th at 7pm, catch "Horns & Halos," the documentary about author J.M. Hatfield and his George W. Bush biography "Fortunate Son". First published in 1999, the book was immediately withdrawn because of its allegations of George W’s early 1970s drug habits. Because Hatfield was a convicted felon, the press claimed his well-documented research was invalid. Hicks re-released this great book under his tiny Soft Skull Press imprint. Soon, Soft Skull was sued, leaving the mysterious yet vulnerable Hatfield on a crash course with fate. Visit Cinemax for other scheduled screenings. (Screened at WFF in 2002)




Some of our favorite animators from over the years, including  Bill Plympton, Aleksey Budovsky, Patrick Smith, Signe Baumane, and PES are featured on a fantastic new animation compilation. The DVD includes over 18 independent films, special features, including pencil tests, behind the scenes, and making of mini-docs.

The films on this volume span the last decade of NYC animation. Young animators join seasoned masters in a program that will surely become an important part of any animation enthusiasts library. For more info visit Square Footage Films.

Recent DVD Releases of WFF alumni films include:

Pieces of April (2003), directed by Peter Hedges (opening night, 2003 WFF)

Shattered Glass (2003), directed by Bill Ray (closing night, 2003 WFF)

Evenhand (2003), directed by Joseph Pierson

Manic  (2002) directed by Jordan Melamed


Grammy-sweeping singer Norah Jones' second album, "Feels Like Home," hit the record stores February 10. The CD's 13 tracks include a blend of jazzy, country-tinged music. Tracks include the delightful "Sunrise", "Creepin' In" (with Dolly Parton), Tom Waits's "The Long Way Home," and "Don't Miss You at All (a rendition of Duke Ellington's "Melancholia")

"Feels Like Home" was recorded at Allaire Studios in Shokan, New York, last April. Guest musicians included Woodstock legends from The Band, drummer Levon Helm, and organ player Garth Hudson.

Other notable Allaire recording artists over the past few years have included David Bowie, Kate Pierson, Guster, Rosanne Cash, Natalie Merchant, and Tim McGraw. For more info, visit Allaire Studios.


We're  thrilled to announce that for the fifth straight year, Markertek, America's largest video and audio supply and accessory source, is on board as a presenting sponsor of the Woodstock Film Festival.

If you're looking for any of the following, check out Markertek.They've got the best
Audio Cables Video Cables, Audio Connectors, Video Connectors, Audio Adapters
Video Adapters, Cable Accessories, Microphones, Acoustic Foam, Analog to Digital Converters, Digital to Analog Converters, Patch Bays, Wall Plates, Test Equipment Equipment Racks, Video Duplication Systems, Video Processors, Audio Distribution Amplifiers, Video Distribution Amplifiers, Audio Mixers, Video Mixers, Audio Monitors, Video Monitors, Speakers, Cases, Lighting, Furniture, and much more.
now offering Next Day To L.A. & The West From their Las Vegas Warehouse!


Ruder - Finn printing - Mr. Picassohead
Express your creativity with
Ruder Finn

Similarly, we're extremely gratified that the Catskill Mountain Region Guide  and Ruder Finn are back again as Major Sponsors.

The Catskill Mountain Region Guide covers arts and culture, outdoor recreation, and country and farm life in the Catskill Mountains, the Hudson Valley, and the Leatherstocking Region. Distribution includes upstate regions, on the New York Thruway, and New York City. For advertising info about the Guide or the Woodstock Film Festival pre-festival program contact Carol Ricken at (518) 263-4099, ext. 217

In addition to being a global leader in public relations, Ruder Finn Print specializes in developing and designing award-winning collateral and marketing materials for a wide range of clients.  We serve our clients professionally from conception to final print, including own in-house, high-end printing capabilities.


Our "early bird special" nests January 12th. All early entries will be discounted $5 through 5/15/04.

The fifth anniversary celebration of the fiercely independent Woodstock Film Festival, October 13-17, 2004 celebrates new voices of independent filmmakers with great films, seminars, workshops, concerts, parties and good people. Early Bird deadline: May 15, 2004. Final deadline: June 28, 2004. Awards are presented for  Best Feature,  Best Documentary, Best Short Documentary, Best Short Film, Best Student Film,  Best Cinematography (The Haskell Wexler Award), Best Film Score (The Elmer Bernstein Award) and Best Animation (Awarded by Bill Plympton).  Entry fee ranges from $25 - $50. For additional info visit the WFF 2004 entry form.

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, diversity, and sustainable economic development through film, video and media production and exhibition.

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

2004 sponsors:, Catskill Mountain Region Guide, Ruder Finn

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

Year Round Events
| Newsletters | Entry Form
| Advisory Board | Travel Info | Souvenirs & Gifts | About Us
Woodstock Film Commission

Copyright, 2000-2004 - Woodstock Film Festival, Inc.