The Woodstock Film Festival Spotlights Hudson Valley Talent

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.

Multiple Hudson Valley movie theaters will screen the films chosen for the festival over the course of five days. From September 27 to October 1, attendees can catch an array of feature narratives, feature documentaries, and short films. Additionally, the festival will facilitate panels such as “Actors Who Direct,” “Producers on Producing,” and a chat with multiple Oscar, Emmy, and Peabody award winner Sheila Nevins, who will be joined by two-time Academy Award-winning filmmaker Barbara Kopple.

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.”

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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

Down by the Riverside

Dir. Jodie Childers, Dan Messina
Showtime: September 27, 7:30 p.m. at Bearsville Theater

This documentary pays homage to the Hudson River as it tells the story of legendary folk singer Pete Seeger’s launch of the Clearwater, a 19th century-style sloop with a singing crew of musicians and activists. Seeger’s intention was to bring awareness to the pollution in the Hudson in an effort to sway legislation to address the climate crisis. A story that is more poignant today than ever, Down by the Riverside is a wonderful tribute to the communities of people who continue to restore and preserve the river, and features rare interviews with the singer himself.

With Peter Bradley

Dir. Alex Rappoport
Showtime: September 29, 6:30 p.m. at Upstate Films (Saugerties): Orpheum Theatre 1

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Peter Bradley is an 83-year-old black artist out of Saugerties who has struggled and succeeded in his career, despite the racism that permeated his time. Having worked in famous art galleries and befriended America’s most celebrated jazz musicians, Bradley gained recognition amidst the company of the greats. This documentary captures Bradley’s creative process, set against a backdrop of a spectacular jazz score that highlights the passion behind his work and has audiences cheering for his comeback throughout the entire film.

Narrative Features Filmed in the Hudson Valley

Blackout

Dir. Larry Fessenden
Showtime: September 29, 9:45 p.m. at Tinker Street Cinema

Set in a rural American town, Charley is a reclusive painter who moonlights as a bloodthirsty werewolf, unable to control his urges. Charley’s struggle lies in trying to protect those around him from his newfound condition. Filmed in Woodstock, director Larry Fessenden is an iconic horror filmmaker who is tapping into this classic monster-movie style to shine a light on art, love, and drug abuse through the clash of supernatural and humanistic conflict.

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Crumb Catcher

Dir. Chris Skotchdopole
Showtime: September 30, 3:45 p.m. at Tinker Street Cinema

This thriller is moody and evocative as it takes viewers on a descending path of danger. When newlyweds Shane and Leah escape to upstate New York for a relaxing retreat from daily life, things go awry when family and impending work pressures intrude on the couple’s getaway. Yet the situation becomes delicate and borders on dangerous when peculiar happenings occur and Shane starts to remember the details of a drunken night. Enigmatic performances underscore this story about the mistakes we make when we avoid our own insecurities.

Stockade

Dir. Eric McGinty
Showtimes: September 29, 12:45 p.m. at Tinker Street Cinema; October 1, 4 p.m. at Rosendale Theater

Ahlam, a Lebanese immigrant artist, stars as the protagonist in this noir thriller that links ancient artifacts to the contemporary art world. To afford to extend her artist visa, Ahlam agrees to deliver a mysterious package to the Hudson Valley where she encounters shady characters as she enters into the illegal art trafficking world. Full of twists and shifting plots, Stockade makes for a unique addition to the crime genre.

Summer Solstice

Dir. Noah Schamus
Showtimes: September 29, 8:15 p.m. at Woodstock Playhouse; October 1, 9 p.m. at Upstate Films (Saugerties): Orpheum Theatre 1

 

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This touching story of friendship explores changes, sexual identities, and insecurities that are easy to relate to. Leo is a trans man who takes a weekend trip with his cisgender, straight college friend Eleanor, during which time their dynamic rides through waves of emotion. As Leo gains confidence in his authenticity, Eleanor’s experience reveals the difficulties of connection and acceptance. Summer Solstice received the Panavision New Filmmaker grant and won the AFI Image Award.

Which Brings Me to You

Dir. Peter Hutchings
Showtimes: September 30, 10:45 a.m. at Woodstock Playhouse

Starring notable actors Nat Wolf and Lucy Hale, this romance comedy is about two strangers who share their deepest secrets in the hope that this night might be different. Two unlucky-in-love individuals meet at a friend’s wedding before they spend the next 24 hours trading stories of awkward hookups and heartbreak. Which Brings Me to You is based on the acclaimed romance novel by Julianna Baggot and Steve Almond.

Noteworthy Mentions

Community on the Menu

Dir. Noelle Marino
Showtime: October 1, 6:30 p.m. at Woodstock Community Center

This seven-minute-long short film is brought to you by Hudson Valley-based high school senior Noelle Marino from Saugerties. Based in the city of Kingston, this documentary-style film follows local restaurants who give back to their communities like Tilda’s, a nonprofit kitchen and market, and Joe Beez, a sandwich shop that has been in business for over 20 years.

Fioretta

Dir. Matthew Mishory
Showtime: September 30, 2:15 p.m. at Bearsville Theater

This film follows one man’s family story as he and his son go on a journey that takes them to Prague, Vienna, and Venice to uncover the truth behind their family’s Jewish past. This is an immersive exploration that dives into genealogy, ancient texts, burial sites, and connections between relatives old and new.

Gone Before Your Eyes

Dir. Cara Yeates
Showtime: September 30, 5 p.m. at Woodstock Community Center

 

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Gone Before Your Eyes is directed by Hudson Valley-based filmmaker Cara Yeates, who currently lives in the Catskills and runs the boutique production company Trigger Creative. Yeates has directed content for world-renowned brands like Alexander Wang, Uber, Ford, and Karlie Kloss. The short explores an artist with Alzheimer’s disease who struggles to paint while trapped in a surreal loop.

Related: Below the Line Bootcamp Sparks Film Careers in Newburgh

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