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The 7 Films You Should Catch During the Woodstock Film Festival

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Photo still from Save Yourselves! / Photos courtesy Woodstock Film Festival

The Hudson Valley’s beloved movie celebration spotlights upcoming and talented filmmakers in upstate New York and beyond.

By Jonathan Ortiz and Sabrina Sucato

You love films. That’s why you clicked on this article here. We get it; we love them, too. That’s why we’re letting you know about this week’s Woodstock Film Festival. It’s a good time with a vast offering of enlightening, fun, and emotionally moving films from today’s up-and-coming filmmakers.

Still, with screenings spread throughout the Hudson Valley’s drive-ins and online between September 30 and October 4, it can be a challenge to navigate the festival’s top offerings. That’s why we put together this here list to set you in the right direction.

 

Save Yourselves!

Where: Greenville Drive-In, September 30, 7 p.m.

What: A quirky take on a sci-fi survival film, this comedic flick centers on a millennial couple’s weekend in the woods. With no technology and in the middle of the forest, the pair discover that aliens have invaded New York. What happens next is disastrous, hilarious, and more than a little thought-provoking.

Extras: Filmed around the Hudson Valley, Save Yourselves! shows as part of a double feature at the Greenville Drive-In with Los Hermanos / The Brothers. Tickets run $25 per person, and the drive-in is fully equipped with socially distant dinners and cocktails with help from Pippy’s Food Truck. A live Q&A precedes the screening.

 

A Call to Spy

Where: Overlook Drive-In, October 1, 7 p.m.

What: With English forces stretched to their breaking point during WWII, Winston Churchill’s Special Operations unit began recruiting women as spies. In the film, spymistress Vera Atkins selects two unusual candidates to undermine the Nazi regime in France. The resulting tale is a moving adventure of courage and sacrifice as the women attempt to make a difference in a world devastated by the ravages of war.

Extras: Director Lydia Dean Pilcher brings her documentary film background to her first solo directing debut. Her impressive showing features alongside The Father, with Anthony Hopkins, at the Overlook Drive-In’s double screening.

Photo still from Fully Realized Humans / Courtesy of Woodstock Film Festival

Fully Realized Humans

Where: Greenville Drive-In, October 2, 7 p.m.

What: For soon-to-be parents Elliot and Jackie, becoming “fully realized humans” is a chance for them to break free from their dysfunctional upbringings to become the best parents possible. The flick is a laugh-out-loud comedy that takes viewers on a wild adventure filled with fist fights, parental face-offs, and more on the quest to adulting.

Extras: Local filmmaker and actor Joshua Leonard has starred in notable films like The Blair Witch Project, Unsane, and Humpday. His work screens as part of a double feature at the Greenville Drive-In, with a bonus short film thrown into the lineup. Not a bad way to spend a Friday night, huh?

 

Stake Land

Where: Greenville Drive-In, October 3, 7 p.m.

What: When a vampire epidemic sweeps across a disaster of a nation plagued by economic and political strife, one teenage boy partners up with a rogue vampire hunter to make it safely to Canada, the New Eden for North America.

Extras: Stake Land is part of Woodstock Film Festival’s screening of horror films shot in the Hudson Valley in honor of the 35th anniversary of Glass Eye Pix. The film took home the Audience Award at Fantasia in 2007 and won Best Film at the Toronto After Dark Film Festival as well. It airs alongside I Carry You With Me at the Greenville Drive-In.

What Breaks the Ice

Where: Overlook Drive-In, October 3, 7 p.m.

What: During the summer of 1998, two teenage girls from very different backgrounds strike up a quick friendship against the backdrop of a nation rocked by the Monica Lewinsky scandal. While the summer itself is life-changing, it becomes even more so when the pair unexpectedly find themselves as accomplices in a fatal crime.

Extras: Shot locally around the Hudson Valley, What Breaks the Ice is a world premiere for the Woodstock Film Festival. It’s directed by Rebecca Eskreis, a filmmaker whose work has appeared at festivals across the globe. The film is part of a double feature at the Overlook Drive-In with Ammonite, and guests are encouraged to arrive early for dinner at the theater’s concession stand.

Photo still from The Outside Story / Courtesy of Woodstock Film Festival

The Outside Story

Where: Woodstock Drive-In, October 4, 7 p.m.

What: The Outside Story begins with the very real fear of getting locked out of one’s apartment. For reclusive, misanthropic video editor Charles Young, this misstep forces him to piece together his broken heart while experiencing all the world has to offer. Throughout the course of the movie, viewers follow along as Young encounters a quirky ensemble of characters and, along the way, discovers the value of community. 

Extras: Local filmmaker Casimir Nozkowski has made more than 100 short films and premiered works at festivals across the nation. The Outside Story is an official selection of the Atlanta, Florida, Montclair, and Tribeca Film Festivals in 2020. It shows at the Woodstock Drive-In alongside Asking for It.

 

The Sit-In: Harry Belafonte Hosts the Tonight Show

Where: Greenville Drive-In, October 4, 7 p.m.

What: The year was 1968 when famed late-night television host Johnny Carson went on vacation for a week. During that time, he named black entertainer and civil rights activist Harry Belafonte as his temporary replacement. With five nights to lead late night, Belafonte booked guests like Aretha Franklin, Sidney Poitier, Dionne Warwick, and more in an attempt to touch the heart of the nation’s racial crisis. The results of his efforts make for an exhilarating documentary that resonates strongly with the Black Lives Matter movement that echoes across the country today.

Extras: The film is co-presented by New York Women in Film & Television and produced by award-winning documentary filmmaker Yoruba Richen. It airs during a two-part movie night at the Greenville Drive-In, with a live Q&A scheduled beforehand.