Tune in, turn out, and drop by for the annual Woodstock Film Festival, which takes place this month. The affair comes of age with screenings of nearly 150 films, as well as panel discussions, performances, special events, A-lister sightings, and parties in Woodstock, Rhinebeck, Rosendale, and Kingston.
“We have an extraordinarily diverse program this year,” says WFF cofounder and executive director Meira Blaustein.
At press time, major films and special guests were still being added to the roster. But highlights already on the schedule include something for everyone — hippie, hipster, and the just plain hip alike.
Directed by 2010 WFF award recipient Bruce Beresford (Driving Miss Daisy, Tender Mercies), Peace, Love, & Misunderstanding kicks off the festival. Oscar-nominated actress Catherine Keener plays a conservative lawyer who takes her two teenage children to meet their estranged grandmother (Jane Fonda), who lives in Woodstock. Shot and produced here in the Valley, the screening takes place at the newly renovated Woodstock Playhouse. Beresford — along with writers, producers, and select cast members — will attend a Q&A after the show.
High-strung Lynn (Ellen Barkin) and her troubled grown children (Kate Bosworth and Ezra Miller) journey deep into the heart of domestic darkness in Another Happy Day; this drama by Sam Levinson makes its East Coast premiere at the festival. An Emmy Award winner, Barkin — best known for her roles in Sea of Love (1989), Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998), and 2007’s Ocean’s Thirteen — receives the Excellence in Acting Award at the festival’s closing night gala at BSP Studios in Kingston. At the same time, Oscar-nominated Mark Ruffalo snags the WFF’s first Meera Ghandi Giving Back Award for his community activism regarding hydraulic fracturing in the Catskills (see “The Fracas Over Fracking” in our July issue). Ruffalo, whose recent films include Shutter Island and The Kids Are All Right, is a Sullivan County resident and an active supporter of the anti-fracking movement.
A narrative feature, Coming Up Roses, directed by Lisa Albright, makes its U.S. premiere at the festival. Young Alice (Rachel Brosnahan) and her theatrical mother Diane (Bernadette Peters) desperately cling to each other, and to the fantasy of a better life, as they learn to cope with a dangerous neighborhood, money troubles, and Diane’s depression. This is said to be Bernadette Peters’ breakout dramatic role.
Also on tap: a special collaborative program with the consulate of Spain, which includes screenings of two films by distinguished Spanish filmmakers. A gala celebration of Spanish culture, featuring live music from renowned flamenco guitarist Javier Limón and samples of Spanish cuisine, highlights the WFF Filmmakers Party on September 23.
Blaustein is enthusiastic about the films slated to be shown at the festival. “We are proud to present a lineup that explores timely, contemporary issues and relationships,” she says.
Woodstock Film Festival, Sept. 21-25. 845-679-4265 or www.woodstockfilmfestival.com