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The Woodstock Film Festival Spotlights Hudson Valley Talent

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The Hudson Valley’s beloved Woodstock Film Festival spotlights upcoming and talented filmmakers in upstate New York and beyond.

Without a doubt, the Woodstock Film Festival is the foremost occasion for filmmakers and film lovers in the Hudson Valley. In a fashion true to our region, it is at once prestigious and intimate; budding filmmakers, industry veterans, and buffs alike congregate to view screenings, exchange ideas, and engage in a little friendly competition.

Nine Hudson Valley movie theaters will screen the films chosen for the festival over the course of five days. From September 28 to October 2, attendees can catch an array of feature narratives, feature documentaries, and short films. Additionally, the festival will facilitate panels such as “Directors on Directing,” “Women in Film,” and a chat with this year’s Maverick Award recipient, the four-time Academy Award-nominated actor Ethan Hawke.


Unsurprisingly, many of the select films—and their makers—have ties to the Hudson Valley. The festival itself has helped establish the Valley as a hub for the entertainment industry, says Meira Blaustein, co-founder and executive director of the Woodstock Film Festival. “It’s a large-scale annual event that brings with it hundreds of…professionals from the film and television industries.” Often, these creatives return to the region, whether to realize new projects, “purchase their next home,” or “spend their next vacation in the Hudson Valley.”

Ahead of the Woodstock Film Festival, we took a closer look at the films made in the Valley along with features by residents of the region.

Documentaries Filmed in the Hudson Valley

Living in Delusionville

Dir. Constant van Hoeven
Showtime: October 2, 1 p.m. at Tinker Street Cinema

 

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This documentary hones in on an artist at opposition with capitalism. Ron English—a locally based world-class artist—makes paintings that exude a “haunting psychedelic beauty,” targeting our ingrained understanding of corporate symbols, cultural touchpoints, and American archetypes. The documentary both studies English’s life and his endeavor to subvert “the images and ideas that [we] have been indoctrinated with since birth” via his visual art practice.

The Quiet Epidemic

Dir. Lindsay Keys, Winslow Crane-Murdoch
Showtimes: September 30, 3:45 p.m. at Tinker Street Cinema; October 1, 2:30 p.m. at Rosendale Theater


Both directors of this film were diagnosed with Lyme disease in 2015 and began work on the feature shortly thereafter. According to The Quiet Epidemic, Lyme disease is “one of the most controversial, divisive, and vicious medical debates in medicine today.” The documentary follows Julia, a teenager who fell sick three years prior to filming, and Neil, a Harvard-trained oncologist who begins studying the disease after his own misdiagnosis. In the “heartbreaking, yet hopeful” story, patients fight not only for ample treatment, but also validation.

Skate Dreams

Dir. Jessica Edwards
Showtimes: September 30, 10 a.m. at Bearsville Theater; October 1, 6:30 p.m. at Orpheum Theatre

 

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Saugerties-based filmmaker Jessica Edwards, who was named one of “10 Documakers to Watch” by Variety, examines the rich, yet understated subculture of female skateboarding. It is a tale of “heart, grit, and determination” featuring icons of the culture like Nora Vasconcellos and Cara-Beth Burnside. Skate Dreams begins in the early days of skateboarding and culminates with the 2022 Tokyo Summer Olympic Games. By the feature’s end, you’ll be determined to “skate like a girl.”

Narrative Features Filmed in the Hudson Valley

Follow Her

Dir. Sylvia Caminer
Showtimes: September 30, 4:30 p.m. at Rosendale Theater; October 1, 3:45 p.m. at Tinker Street Cinema

 

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Fans of thriller movies should flock to see this story-within-a-story, which is the directorial debut of SUNY New Paltz alumna Sylvia Caminer. When the internet-famous Jess (also known as “J Peeps”) has a chance meeting with a casting director, she helps him develop the main character of his new movie. Follow Her—filmed partly in Woodstock, Saugerties, and Kingston—is a “twisty, clever, at times genuinely funny tale” exploring the nature of contemporary fame. Viewers can expect twist and turns until the final credits roll.

Linoleum

Dir. Colin West
Showtimes: October 1, 10:30 a.m. at Woodstock Playhouse; October 2, 7:45 p.m. at Rosendale Theater

 

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In this feature, the comedian Jim Gaffigan leads the cast as a father dealing with career failures as well as a withering marriage. While toiling to construct a rocket ship in his garage—his childhood dream—Gaffigan’s character encounters “a series of strange, scientifically inexplicable events” that make him question his understanding of the world around him.

Sixty Miles North

Dir. Edward Crawford, Jack Mulcahy
Showtimes: September 29, 2:15 p.m. at Tinker Street Cinema; September 30, 7:30 p.m. at Rosendale Theater

 

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This 82-minute feature follows an actor who loses an important job and must return to his childhood home. He must decide whether to give up acting altogether or reignite his passion for performance. While there, he meets Wild Fall, the agoraphobe who lives in his old bedroom.

Stay Awake

Dir. Jamie Sisley
Showtimes: October 1, 12:45 p.m. at Tinker Street Cinema; October 2, 4:45 p.m. at Rosendale Theater

 

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Not only did filmmaker Jamie Sisley direct this picture, but he also wrote it—largely based on his own childhood. The precocious brothers, Derek and Ethan, dream of leaving home to follow their dreams, but are forced to prioritize the needs of their mother, Michelle, as she struggles to curb her addition to prescription pills. Stay Awake looks hard at the opioid crisis in America through the eyes of one family.

Features by Hudson Valleyites

Battleground

Dir. Cynthia Lowen
Showtime: September 29, 10:45 a.m. at Woodstock Playhouse


Dubbed “required viewing for anyone with a stake in the future of abortion in America,” this documentary follows three women leaders of anti-abortion organizations. The film asks important questions—“What are [champions of anti-abortion] driven by, what do they believe, how do they operate, and what are their goals?”—and yields unexpected answers. Relevant as ever in the wake of recent Supreme Court decisions, Battleground seeks to understand a major rift in America’s collective conscious.

Mending the Line

Dir. Joshua Caldwell
Showtimes: September 29, 5:30 p.m. at Woodstock Playhouse; September 30, 1 p.m. at Rosendale Theater

John Colter, a veteran injured in Afghanistan, returns to the United States to receive treatment at a V.A. hospital in Montana. His only wish is to return to active duty despite his physical and mental wounds. There, meets Vietnam veteran Ike—played by Brian Cox of HBO’s Succession—who teaches him how to fly fish, mitigating his trauma. While Colter was fully prepared to die for his country, in this “compassionate” feature, Ike challenges him to discover that which he lives for. The film’s director resides in Warwick and its producer hails from West Point, meaning Orange County is well-represented in this feature, which will kick off the festival on opening night.

Noteworthy Mentions

The Picture Taker

Dir. Phil Bertelsen
Showtimes: October 1, 10 a.m. at Bearsville Theater, Woodstock; October 2, 3:30 p.m. at Tinker Street Cinema, Woodstock

 

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Photojournalist Ernest Withers made a name for himself with his images of the Jim Crow south and Black celebrity, making him one of the most sterling photographers of the late-20th century. This documentary “explores the disturbing contradiction…between art and the …politics of race”—as does the retrospective of Withers’ photography currently on display at the Center for Photography at Woodstock (side note: the Center is actually located in Kingston). Withers’ work as a “community photographer” has immortalized the strife of the civil rights movement along with the everyday lives of Black Americans. Plus, he was also an FBI informant. The documentary takes a look at the man—prodigious, if not complicated—behind the pictures.

Related: This Film Explores the History of the Esopus Creek and Ashokan Reservoir

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