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The 7 Films You Should Catch During the Woodstock Film Festival

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Photo still from Foxhole / Photos courtesy of Woodstock Film Festival

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

The Hudson Valley has become a center for cinema in more ways than one. Filmmakers from Hollywood and prestige TV flock to the area to use the Valley’s majestic scenery, historic landmarks, and state-of-the-art soundstages. Independent theaters across the region screen international features and arthouse flicks way north of New York City.

Woodstock Film Festival Playhouse

Woodstock Playhouse

Of course, we can’t forget about the trailblazing and “fiercely independent” Woodstock Film Festival. It’s a good time with a vast offering of enlightening, fun, and emotionally moving pictures from today’s up-and-coming filmmakers. Catch these engaging flicks in person, or purchase digital tickets online for a virtual festival experience.

Woodstock Film Festival Premieres Shot in the Hudson Valley

The Winter House

Where: Woodstock Playhouse, September 30, 2:15 p.m. / Orpheum Theatre Saugerties, October 1, 1:45 p.m.

What: The Winter House explores isolation, crisis, and personal growth. This hopeful tale tells the story of a successful novelist who runs to a quiet New Hampshire town to escape her grief. She comes into contact with a young drifter enduring similar struggles, and the two form an unlikely yet unbreakable bond. As their relationship develops, they define true charity.

Extras: This indie production filmed all of its scenes in Newburgh. The Woodstock Film Festival presents this flick in two matinee screenings ($20 per ticket) and online ($15). At each in-person viewing of The Winter House, viewers will have a chance to discuss the film in a Q+A with its director.

Foxhole WW1 Woodstock Film Festival

Still from WW1 segment of Foxhole

Foxhole

Where: Tinker St Cinema, Woodstock, October 1, 1 p.m. / Orpheum Theatre, Saugerties, October 2, 4 p.m.

What: Hudson Valley actor and filmmaker Larry Fessenden tackles several generations of war in Foxhole. The story unfolds over three days in three separate wars: The Civil War, WWI, and the conflicts in Iraq. Five soldiers resigned to a foxhole grapple with their own morality and the impacts of generational trauma. The same five actors play different characters in each episode, showcasing the evolving roles of race, gender, and more. Ultimately, Foxhole demonstrates how crisis can showcase the best elements of humanity.

Extras: Fessenden—son of director Larry Fessenden of Glass Eye Pix—wrote, directed, edited, and scored Foxhole. Of course, local sites served as the battlefields pictured in the war film. Attend either Woodstock Film Festival showing for a riveting Q+A, and gain insight into the singular vision of emerging auteur Fessenden, named to IndieWire‘s “11 Filmmakers 30 or Under You Need to Know” list.

The Shuroo Process

Where: Tinker St Cinema, Woodstock, October 1, 6:45 p.m. / Orpheum Theatre, Saugerties, October 2, 10:30 a.m.

What: When a Manhattan-based journalist’s life and career crumbles, she turns to the teachings of a celebrity guru for guidance. Her boyfriend dumps her, her boss fires her, and her best friend deserts her. In desperation, Parker Schafer embarks on a self-help journey on a remote wellness retreat with the famous Guru Shuroo. However, Schafer’s reporter instincts kick in and she smells fraud. The Shuroo Process examines the dangers of cultish life improvement groups, celebrity worship, and internet hiveminds.

Extras: The Zachary Quinto-produced indie flick filmed throughout the Catskills. Fiona Dourif—daughter of Brad Dourif (Lord of the RingsAlien), who appears in the film with her—leads the ensemble cast of rising stars and Hollywood veterans, including Rainey Qualley (Ocean’s 8), Rachel McDowall (Mamma Mia), and Eric Roberts (Suits), who make unforgettable appearances in the film. This is Emrhys Cooper’s directorial debut.

Porcupine

Where: Tinker St Cinema, Woodstock, October 2, 1 p.m. / Orpheum Theatre, Saugerties, October 3, 5 p.m.

What: Porcupine centers around a young woman’ desire to feel belonging. After Audrey, played by the talented Jena Malone (The Hunger Games) stumbles upon the unique concept of adult adoption, she integrates into a new family. During her journey toward self-acceptance, she collides with the family’s rough-and-tough patriarch, testing her own empathy along the way.

Extras: This film shot extensively throughout the Hudson Valley and Canada. Join an in-person viewing for a Q+A with director Mike Cahill, who worked on King of California with Michael Douglas. These screenings are the official U.S. premieres for Porcupine, an indie with a big message to deliver at the Woodstock Film Festival.

Other Films to Catch at the Woodstock Film Festival

 

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The Space Between

Where: Woodstock Playhouse, October 1, 1:15 p.m. / The Lot at Blueprint in Kingston, October 2, 7 p.m.

What: Starring the incomparable Kelsey Grammer (Cheers, Frasier), The Space Between centers around burnt-out and over-the-hill ’70s rocker Micky Adams navigating LA during the ’90s. Micky receives a visit from a young mailroom employee of his record label, bearing news of his terminated contact. Psychedelic drugs, life lessons, artistic breakthroughs, and incredible throwback jams ensue.

Extras: Rachel Winter makes her directorial debut with The Space Between, discussing creativity, corporate ladders, and the concept of legacy. Grammer himself comes to White Feather Farm on October 1 at 10:30 a.m. for a discussion of his long and diverse career. Hudson Valley film critic Thelma Adams moderates the Woodstock Film Festival panel, and tickets cost $40 per person.

 

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Petite Maman

Where: Tinker St Cinema, Woodstock, October 1, 11 a.m.

What: Eight-year-old Nelly is grieving the loss of her grandmother. She journeys to her mother’s childhood home to help her parents clean out the space. While exploring the nearby forest, she meets another young girl building a treehouse. The connection they discover bridges gaps of generations. Have you ever wondered what your parents were like at your age?

Extras: Petite Maman is the follow-up film by Celine Sciamma to 2019’s critically acclaimed Portrait of a Lady on Fire.

18 1/2

John Magaro and Willa Fitzgerald in 18 ½

18 ½

Where: Tinker St Cinema, Woodstock, October 2, 4 p.m. / The Lot at Blueprint in Kingston, October 3, 7 p.m.

What: Did you know 18 ½ minutes are missing from the Nixon tapes? This historical fiction seeks to answer the question of what the lost Watergate Scandal tapes could contain. A White House transcriber stumbles upon the footage, and declares it her duty to get the scoop to a reporter. Things quickly spiral out of control in this ’70s comedy-thriller.

Extras: 18 ½ features a huge cast of quirky characters, appearing on the Woodstock Film Festival screen before anywhere else in the world. Richard Kind (Curb Your Enthusiasm), Jon Cryer (Two and a Half Men), and John Magaro (The Big Short) are just a few of the unforgettable faces that occupy Washington D.C. in the ’70s era. Oh, we almost forgot…the great Bruce Campbell (The Evil Dead series) plays President Richard Nixon.

 

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The Electrical Life of Louis Wain

Where: Woodstock Playhouse, October 3, 5:15 p.m.

What: Louis Wain captured the mystique of cats in trippy, bizarre paintings and illustrations. His view of the world was one-of-a-kind, as he sought to discover its “electrical” secrets. Benedict Cumberbatch (Dr. Strange) plays the eccentric artist amid a quirky 1900s London backdrop.

Extras: The film makes its New York premiere at the Woodstock Film Festival. Alongside Cumberbatch is Claire Foy, best known for her turn as Queen Elizabeth II in Netflix’s The Crown.

Jagged Woodstock Film Festival

Still from Jagged, a feature documentary on Alanis Morrissette’s creation of Jagged Little Pill

Music-Centric Documentaries

Hungry for more movies at the Woodstock Film Festival? Several documentaries capturing unique musicians and moments in music history make their debuts in the Hudson Valley. Explore the life of Miles Davis, dive deep into Jagged Little Pill with Alanis Morrissette herself, bask in the creativity of the Velvet Underground, and follow Joe Cocker on his “Mad Dogs and Englishmen” tour in these pictures.

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