Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Upstate Films screens festival favorite

"War/Dance," the Audience Award winner for documentary feature at the Woodstock Film Festival, will be presented tonight and Thursday at Upstate Films in Rhinebeck.

The documentary, which also won the festival's Haskell Wexler Award for Best Cinematography, tells the story of brutality in northern Uganda through the eyes of three children.

Screenings take place tonight and Thursday at 6 and 8:15 p.m. at Upstate Films on Montgomery Street in Rhinebeck.

Admission is $7.50; $6 for seniors 62 and over; and $4.50 members & children under 16.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Audiences loved 'The Living Wake'

Audiences chose "The Living Wake" as their favorite narrative feature of the eighth annual Woodstock Film Festival.

Directed by Sol Tryon, the movie was described in the film festival catalogue as "a dark comedy set in a timeless storybook universe."

The Audience Award winner for documentary feature went to "War/Dance," directed by Sean Fine and Andrea Nix Fine.

"Run Granny Run," directed by Marlo Poras, came in a very close second, festival organizers said.

'Chicago 10' makes poignant connections

Mia Mask, a film professor at Vassar College, attended a screening of "Chicago 10" Saturday evening at Upstate Films in Rhinebeck. Here is her review:

Brett Morgen’s “Chicago 10” was an enjoyable find at the Woodstock Film Festival. Having made the rounds at Austin, Sundance, and Silverdocs, it’s only fitting this depiction of ‘60s counterculture mavericks be screened at the hippy-est of film festivals — the one most closely associated with anti-war, peace-loving bohemia.

A 95-minute feature, “Chicago 10” tells the tale of the Chicago protest during the 1968 Democratic National Convention and the trial of seven activist-icons.

The original eight defendants, indicted by the grand jury on March 20, 1969, were Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin, David Dellinger, Tom Hayden, Rennie Davis, John Froines, Lee Weiner, and Black Panther Bobby Seale.

The defense attorneys were William Kunstler and Leonard Weinglass of the Center for Constitutional Rights. The judge was Julius Hoffman. The prosecutors were Richard Schultz and Tom Foran.

The (in)famous defendants — who were catapulted to celebrity as a result — were charged with conspiracy, inciting to riot and other misdemeanors related to violence that ensued during convention week.

It’s clear the charges only heightened their popularity with the non-conformist, anti-authoritarian followers, making them more symbolic than they would have been without police brutality and National Guard deployment.

After all, Yippies (the Youth International Party) were a theatrical party with a penchant for carnivalesque political performance.

They aligned with groups like the National Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam (a.k.a. MOBE), which also appears in “Chicago 10.”

Local Chicago government and state resistance only made charismatic leaders of playful resistors like Abbie Hoffman and his crew.

What makes Morgen’s treatment unique is that it combines rotoscopic animation techniques — made famous by films like “Waking Life” and "A Scanner Darkly” — with archival riot footage, and existing feature film clips (excerpts from Haskell Wexler’s “Medium Cool “).

Morgen reconstructs the animated courtroom proceedings with the help of professional voice talents Nick Nolte, Roy Scheider, Hank Azaria, Mark Ruffalo and Liev Schreiber.

These scenes are intercut with the archival footage.

Morgen parallels the action by using a split screen, dividing it horizontally and vertically.

Aesthetically, “Chicago 10” is reminiscent of other films that have blended live-action and animation like Ralph Bakshi’s work in the ‘70s or Robert Zemeckis’ cartoon-noir, “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?”

Here rotoscope is put to more political and progressive use: educating a younger generation about the events of the 60s.

In his introduction to the film at Upstate, director Morgen told the Woodstock festival audience he wanted to “make the history accessible and recreate the experience of being in Chicago rather than an academic account of Chicago at the time.”

Morgen may have also succeeded in advancing the amalgamation of documentary and animation as docu-mation.

“Chicago 10” makes it clear (for younger audiences who didn’t live through the ‘60s) that the baton-wielding, tear-gas throwing police initiated much of the violence.

While some might have been looking for trouble, the majority of hippies, Yippies and protesters could barely find their way out of Lincoln Park.

Made by the same production company that produced “An Inconvenient Truth,” it’s no wonder this feature has been well received at festivals.

It makes the poignant connections other films strive for but miss.

And, its pastiche of images is set to an equally rebellious score.

The connection between Johnson’s Vietnam and Bush’s Iraq is provided — ironically enough — by Eminem’s anti-war anthem, “Mosh,” and Beastie Boys rhymes.

“Chicago 10” is certainly the best documation treatment of the confrontation between police state authoritarianism and youth-driven protest.

It captures the political tumult, spirit of rebellion and momentary feeling of euphoria experienced by the charismatic cadre that helped define the ethos of The Sixties.

Vassar professor reviews 'Oswald's Ghost'

Mia Mask, a film professor at Vassar College, attended a sold-out screening of Rhinecliff-based documentary director Robert Stone’s “Oswald’s Ghost” Friday evening at Upstate Films in Rhinebeck. Here is her review:

Among the documentaries premiering at the 8th annual Woodstock Film Festival was Robert Stone’s “Oswald’s Ghost,” a clear-cut approach to the otherwise dizzying morass of conspiracy theories and forensic contradictions circulating around the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in November 1963.

To evoke the zeitgeist of the sixties and recreate the feeling of loss, chaos and disbelief that followed the assassination, the director utilized a familiar catalogue of images, evidence and filmed material.

With editor Don Kleszy, Stone assembled well-preserved archival footage, excerpts of Abraham Zapruder’s film — played in super slow motion — and still photographs of haunting figures Jack Ruby and the eponymous gunman, Lee Harvey Oswald.

The images are sutured together by interviews with historians and assassination chroniclers Edward Jay Epstein, Mark Lane, Norman Mailer, former Sen. Gary Hart and anchorman Dan Rather — among others — who carefully recount the narrative of that fateful day in Dallas.

The resulting film is a professionally rendered, carefully paced documentary that’s slick enough for theatrical release but provides little new information or inspiration, which might lead moviegoers to ask: Why this film now?

In his introduction to the festival screening, Stone said he wanted to make “Oswald’s Ghost” for more than a decade, ever since he saw Oliver Stone’s “JFK.”

“I was interested in the debates and discussions it inspired,” Robert Stone said.

If he has any agenda, it’s to debunk conspiracy theories in general, something he clearly considers debilitating to progressive, leftist politics.

In the post-screening Q & A he compared the proliferation of theories around JFK’s assassination to the new crop of plots and schemes concocted to explain Sept. 11, 2001.

“The problem is: There’s no basic set of facts,” Stone said. “There’s no basic set of facts you can have a discussion about. There’s a whole cottage industry that says the Zapruder film is a fake. I didn’t want to fall into the rabbit hole of these debates. It’s been a rabbit hole for the left to pursue conspiracy theories that make people feel powerless. It only enables the powerful. The assassination of JFK was the 9/11 of our generation.”

If that’s true, then one wants “Oswald’s Ghost” to make that point.

The film’s public television, documentary-by-numbers formula works. But in trying to moderate two sides of the assassination debate, it fails to provide anything other than the sensible conclusions already surmised.

To Stone’s credit, there are archival and authorial flourishes viewers won’t find elsewhere. Chief among them are the police radio tapes and CBS’ 16mm coverage, neither of which had ever been used in any accounts of the tragedy.

There’s also a humorous moment of cinematic reflexivity when Robert Stone’s “Oswald’s Ghost” pokes fun at Oliver Stone’s “JFK.”

Just when the myriad of competing explanations starts to overwhelm, the documentary cuts to a 1991 interview with Oliver Stone on the set.

"Oswald's Ghost" mocks its predecessor as the mainstream film that managed to “…make use of all the theories.” The message seems clear: Hokey Hollywood films manufacture order out of complexity and chaos.

If the two films have anything in common, it’s that they both raise epistemological questions about cinema’s relationship to historical memory and the persistence of that memory.

Indeed, the killings of John F. Kennedy, Bobby Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr., Medgar Evers and Malcolm X were stumbling blocks to the rise of a progressive majority — as one Woodstock audience member noted.

The orbit of unknowns has proved an epistemological quagmire.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

He's right here

I hope that anyone who was as utterly disappointed in the the Neal Cassady movie finds something worth reading in the story that I wrote for the Poughkeepsie Journal, about Cassady and Bob Dylan, that appears in today's paper.

My story is pegged to the showing at the film fest of "Neal Cassady" and "I'm Not There," which is about the different personas of Dylan and closes the fest tonight at the Tinker Street Cinema.

But my story isn't about these films. It's about these two larger-than-life personalities that inspired these films. Cassady was a friend of Jack Kerouac's and the inspiration for Kerouac's Dean Moriarity character in "On the Road." Quite frankly, I think you will learn more about Cassady in my story than you will in the movie.

There are also a few nuggets about Bob.

From Bowie to Bearsville, the old roadies

Inspired by a photo that Journal photographer Kathy McClaughlin took of the projectionist at Woodstock Town Hall, I sought out one of the minds behind the moving images, to learn more about what makes these folks tick, or rather, turn.

I headed over to the Bearsville Theater, where I met Jim Dodge. Jim has done projection work for some major live performances by some major folks – McCartney, Bowie, Pink Floyd, Michael Jackson and R.E.M. among them.

He is from Shohola, Penn., and described himself as WFF tech guru Jeff Kantor’s “sidekick.”

Jim said at the first film fest, in 2000, he and Kantor ran the projection show, “running from venue to venue,” dropping off films.

His work at the WFF, he said, “started off as a real affection for Meira and Laurent,” he said, referring to the festival’s co-founders. “Just because of the love of what she does.”

He first met Meira at a New York film festival years ago.

He added, “I look forward to next year’s festival even before this one is over.”

He mentioned that several projectionists at the WFF come from the concert industry and the film fest serves as a reunion of sorts for these “old roadies.”

Patricia Clarkson has quote of the festival

Actress Patricia Clarkson, who said she was celebrating her 47th birthday today (someone needs to edit her IMDB profile), was asked how she felt about Hollywood's preoccupation with staying young, particularly the use of Botox.

Clarkson said she believes one of the reasons she has been acting so much lately is because she does not go the Botox route.

"I honestly think it's because my face moves," she said. "And it will always move."

Love it.

(Photo by Poughkeepsie Journal photographer Karl Rabe)

That slice lived on

Remember Gill Holland, the producer I bumped into at Catskill Mountain Pizza? Well I saw him again at the Skytop Restaurant, where I popped in briefly after the Felice Brothers concert Saturday night. Gill introduced me to Alexie Gilmore, a New York City resident whose parents just moved to Woodstock.

Alexie was a film fest juror but also has some pretty big stuff happening. She will star next year opposite Matthew McConaughey in "Pro Surfer," a comedy about a surfer and a reality show. Gilmore will also be seen in "New Amsterdam" on Fox, about a New York City Police Detective who is immortal, but who is trying to become mortal, with the help of Gilmore, who plays his love interest.

Nice to meet you Alexie.

Here is a picture of Holland and Gilmore at the Skytop.

Felice fanatics

There was a line stretching outside the door of the Colony Cafe Saturday night, for the second straight evening of live music at the Woodstock Film Festival. Both concerts were staged by Wacbiz.

I've been to a fair share of shows at the Colony,but never have I seen such a waiting list and then people without tickets standing out front of the sold-out show, perhaps just listening?

Here are some photos of the gig:

A Lovin' Spoonful love-in

A panel discussion on Music in Film at Utopia Studios Saturday turned into a mini John Sebastian love-fest, with the panel's moderator and a composer whose work includes one of the Harry Potter films gushing over the Woodstock veteran and long-time Woodstock resident, who participated in the discussion.

'John Sebastian is just an iconic soul in my book," said William Rossis, who composed music for "Matrix Reloaded," "Forrest Gump" and "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets."

On the topic of "Film and Television as the New Radio," lobbed up for debate by moderator Doreen Ringer-Ross, vice President of Film/TV Relations at BMI, Sebastian said "It moves around." "I've said no to alcohol, but yes to beer; no to big oil and yes to an electric power company that gives money to schools."

Here is a picture of Ringer-Ross and Sebastian.

Peanuts group therapy session

A documentary about Peanuts creator Charles Schulz, "Good 'Ol Charles Schulz," shown Saturday night, was a multi-dimensional, psychological anlaysis of the loved illustrator that dissected the many angles of his personality through the characters he created.

Interviews with Schulz's children, widow and colleagues revealed a man who WAS Charlie Brown.

I found myself feeling guilty for looking at Charlie Brown all those years as that sorry loser, the kid who can't kick the football, the kid who can't control the actors in the Christmas play and the kid who buys the pathetic Christmas tree. I learned during the film that Schulz looked at himself as that sorry, pathetic kid.

Some revealing moments in the came during interviews with the woman who was "the little red-haired girl," in the comic strip, who Charlie Brown has a crush on but can't work up the nerve to talk to. It turns out she had dumped Shultz. A funny moment came during an interview with Linus Maurer - a former colleage of Schulz's from the art institute where they both taught. An even funnier moment came when the film showed a picture of THE Charlie Brown - Schulz's colleague from the art institute who inspired him to draw you know who. I can't remember who said it, Schulz or someone else, but the line of the movie was about the real Charlie Brown - "The real Charlie Brown had a round head. He did."

Of course, I felt a little bit like Charlie Brown myself as I thought this movie was being shown at the Woodstock Community Center when in fact, it was at Town Hall. I only realized my mistake after watching several minutes of "Caroline By Committee." The 10 minutes I watched were hilarious.

Steve Guttenberg appears at festival

Steve Guttenberg, the star of big franchise hits like "Police Academy," "Three Men and a Baby," "Short Circuit" and "Cocoon," was the surprise guest at an actors' panel this morning that featured indie queen Patricia Clarkson.

He might not be the first person you think of when you hear the film festival catch phrase, "fiercely independent," but Guttenberg was self-effacing, warm and very funny. He talked about his desire to do more dramatic work, reminding the audience that he began his career in the theater.

Guttenberg recently completed "Major Movie Star," a studio film with Jessica Simpson (what I'm assuming is a "pay the mortgage" movie -- a phrase I'm borrowing from Mary Stuart Masterson) and will be heading to Berlin to finish shooting the independent drama, "The Well" (what I'm assuming is a "pay the soul" movie). Film productions are apparently lured overseas because of the tax breaks, he said.

(Photo by Poughkeepsie Journal photographer Karl Rabe)

Saturday, October 13, 2007

From one maverick to another

Actress/writer Lili Taylor -- teary, eloquent and very pregnant -- presented the Honorary Maverick Award to independent film producer Christine Vachon (in combat boots) at the 2007 Woodstock Film Festival Awards tonight at the Skytop Steakhouse near Kingston.

Vachon of Killer Films produces movies that are "as provocative and challenging as they are critically and commercially successful," Taylor said. "I don't think I'd be here without Christine."

Vachon is the producer of the Bob Dylan biopic "I'm Not There," which will be screened tomorrow in Woodstock.

2007 Woodstock Film Festival winners

Actor and Ulster County resident Giancarlo Esposito (left), along with fellow jurors Jason Kliot and Karen Durbin, presented the Best Narrative Feature award to "August Evening" director Chris Eska (below) at tonight's awards ceremony.

Here are the other awards:

Best Documentary Feature: "The Cool School," directed by Morgan Neville; honorable mentions: "Constantine's Sword," directed by Oren Jacoby and "Run Granny Run," directed by Marlo Poras

The Maverick Award for Best Short Documentary: "Salim Baba," directed by Tim Sternberg; honorable mention: "The Ladies," directed by C.A. Voros

The Diane Seligman Award for Best Short Narrative: "High Falls," directed by Andrew Zuckerman

The Maverick Award for Best Animated Film: "Fantaisie In Bubblewrap," directed by Arthur Metcalf

A special "Animation Diva" award was presented to Signe Baumane for her film, "Teat Beat of Sex."

The Haskell Wexler Award for Best Cinematography: "War/Dance," directed by Sean Fine and Andrea Nix Fine and shot by Sean Fine

The Maverick Award for Excellence in Editing of a Feature Documentary: "Constantine's Sword," editing by Kate Hirson

The Maverick Award for Best Editing of a Feature Narrative: "In Search of a Midnight Kiss," editing by Jacob Vaughan and Frank Reynolds; honorable mention: "Iron Ladies of Liberia," editing by Davis Coombe

Lovely and 'amazing'

"Racing Daylight" director Nicole Quinn and producer Sophia Raab Downs checked out the "Amazing Women in Film" panel today.

Panelists were (from left to right) Karen Durbin, film critic for Elle magazine; Donna Dickman, vice president of publicity at Focus Features; moderator Thelma Adams, film critic for US Weekly; Mary Stuart Masterson, longtime actor and first-time director; and Katie Roumel, independent film producer.

Actor/producer Ami Ankin said she enjoyed hearing from so many powerful women who are currently working in the industry. Ankin's movie, "The Living Wake," is playing Sunday at 3 p.m. at Upstate Films in Rhinebeck.

Woodstock too crowded? Try the R towns.

The energy in Woodstock is intense -- so is the traffic.

"Apparently, people don't want to leave Woodstock," observed a festival box office volunteer today.

If you want your Sunday to be more about movies and less about braving crowds of out-of-towners, head to Rhinebeck and Rosendale for screenings of some great films, not yet sold out:

At Upstate Films' two-screen theater in Rhinebeck,
"3 Americas" at 12:15 p.m.
"The Cool School" at 12:45 p.m.
"The Living Wake" at 3 p.m.
"Operation Filmmaker" at 3:15 p.m.
"In Search of a Midnight Kiss" at 5:30 p.m.
"Superheroes" at 5:45 p.m.

At the Rosendale Theatre,
"August Evening" at noon.
"The Cake Eaters" at 3:15 p.m.
"Lars and the Real Girl" at 6 p.m.

There's a lot of buzz about "Lars and the Real Girl," which stars Ryan Gosling and Patricia Clarkson. Clarkson will be speaking at an actors' panel at the festival Sunday.

He won't be there

Woodstock Film Festival organizers some time ago inquired with Bob Dylan's people to see if the legendary singer-songwriter and former Woodstock resident would be interested in making an appearance at this year's fest, in conjunction with the showing of "I'm Not There," the Todd Haynes film that examines the many personas of Bob.

The film fest closes Sunday with two showings of the film, which stars Cate Blanchett and Richard Gere, among others.

The WFF's putting out feelers for Dylan is not as crazy as you might think. Past WFFs have featured such musical luminaries as Peter Gabriel and Trey Anastasio and Mike Gordon of Phish.

The word was, I was told a few minutes ago, that Bob's folks were very enthusiastic about the request, but that the man who tours incessantly would be on the road in the midwest during the festival. If you would like to see Bob Dylan in the flesh this weekend, he is playing tonight in Columbus Ohio, at Ohio State University's Schottenstein Center; and Monday in Cincinnati at the Taft Theatre.

There's something about Mary

New director and Columbia County resident Mary Stuart Masterson spoke at a panel that focused on women in film this morning at Utopia Studios. Ms. Masterson was candid about her struggle to get film projects made and the difficulty of balancing her many different film and theater "roles," which include director, writer, producer and, of course, actor.

She then was joined by her mom (in the peach sweater) and dad at a sold-out screening of "The Cake Eaters" at the Bearsville Theater. Ms. Masterson shook hands with admirers after the screening of her film, which was shot in Catskill, Cairo and Hudson.

"The Cake Eaters" will be screened again Sunday at 3:15 p.m. at the Rosendale Theatre. Tickets are available for purchase at the Rosendale box office.

Images of Woodstock

Keep breathing

Ok. I'm starting to cave in on myself here, now that it's day three, or is it four? I know I'm in Woodstock but have been losing a grip on what day it is. I know what day it is by what film I'm seeing. Charles Schultz movie - Saturday. right.

Ok. I need to catch my breath and slow things down so will just post some images from around Woodstock. The weather was beautiful today, the sidewalks were jamming and this town had its mojo on full throttle.

enjoy some different kind of images follow immediately.....

Peace, Love and Pizza

I had about 15 minutes to grab a bite between filing my last post from earlier today and arriving at Utopia Studios for a 4 p.m. panel discussion on music in film. So I headed to Catskill Mountain Pizza.

As I was walking in I saw this guy with a film festival "Industry" pass scarfing down a slice that was heavy on mozzarella. I opted to forego the slice to ask him some questions and I left feeling I had a more rewarding experience than if I had gone for the stuffed meat slice that I had my heart set on.

So it turns out that this guy's name was Gill Holland from Louisville, Kentucky. My first question was, "I hope you're a subscriber to the Courier-Journal, which is the daily paper there and like the Poughkeepsie Journal, owned by Gannett.

He said he was a subscriber, so we moved on, both feeling a little better, I think.

Turns out that Gill is a producer who has worked on movies starring Ned Beatty - "Sweet Land" - which won a Spirit Award, handed out the night before the Oscars, for the best independent film. Not bad.

Gill is a juror for the film fest and spoke highly of the Woodstock Film Festival, in the same breath as the Toronto, Sundance and Telluride flick fests.

"Sundance has become such a zoo," he said. "For networking, it's great, because it's casual."

As we were chatting and as I was keeping Gill from his slice, Jason Kliot walked in, ready to pick up a pie with a spelt crust he had ordered. Jason has worked with Steven Soderbergh, Brian De Palma and Jim Jarmusch and echoed Gill's thoughts on the film fest.

"There is a special flair to a regional festival where the priority is offering a chance just to see films."

In this picture, taken by moi, Kliot is on the left, Holland on the right. Bon appettit!


I received it on good word that Uma Thurman had a late lunch at Taco Juan's on Tinker Street Saturday afternoon. No word on whether Uma had the gazpacho or the hot red pepper quesadilla. But don't worry, we've got our best people on it.

Also, Woodstock music festival promoter Michael Lang was seen ambling down Tinker Street in the direction of the Tinker Street Cinema at about five minutes to 4 Saturday. Perhaps he was headed for the 4 p.m. showing of "Hippie Masala." I wouldn't doubt it for a second.

I'm dyin' here

I am dying here because it's beautiful out and I am inside the Colony Cafe and have been for hours. Also, my computer is dying, literally, running out of juice. I'll be back later. With photos and more.

Chasin Gus

A documentary on jug band music will be shown at 10 p.m. Saturday night at the Bearsville Theater. This movie is notable for its story line, about Gus Cannon, the forefather of jug band music. He was an old music from the early part of the twentieth century who helped give birth to that form of music that incorporates a jug and acoustic instruments.

I spoke to director Todd Kwait some time back, who built a large part of this movie around Woodstock resident John Sebastian of the Lovin' Spoonful, who, I did not know, was as MAJOR jug band fan. There is a lot of great live music in this film, as well as archival music, not to mention the Gus Cannon storyline.

Kwait said Sebastian is a "very sweet, pleasnant person to be around. He has a very very, renaissance man’s view of the world."

Kwait said the seed for this movie was planted some time ago, when he attended a Sebastian concert and the singer spent a good deal of time talking about jug band music. From there, Kwait said, "jug band music touched me because of the Gus Cannon story. And that's what really reeled me in."

Good Grief!

I cannot tell you how excited I am to see a documentary on Charles Schultz, the man who gave us Charlie Brown and the gang. This film, called "Good 'Ol Charles Schulz," will be shown Saturday night at the Woodstock Commmunity Center.

My affection for Charlie Brown and Snoopy and Schulz lies in that nutty Christmas diddy that Schroeder bangs out in the gang's Christmas special. You know the one. Doo-do-do-doo-doo-do-dooo-dooooo.

Anyway, I spoke to the filmmaker, David Van Taylor, a while back and he told me some pretty interesting stuff.....

On the creator...
"He could be as insecure as Linus. He certainly was
Schroeder. In many respects, the image of Schroeder bending over the piano is Schulz, bending over the picture."

On Charlie Brown - "Charlie Brown is the underside, in a way, of America's eternal optimism."

Snoopy, Van Taylor said, is who Schulz "wanted to be." Charlie Brown, Van Taylor said, "is who he was."

"We're all at some point going to feel left out...and that's what Charlie Brown is about and that's what Schulz did, was to allow us to express our own feelings of vulnerability."
Everyone pretty much knows that Schultz learned how to draw through a correspondence course. But he went on to teach at the school that offered the course and the Peanuts characters were developed around instructors - Linus and Charlie Brown.

WAMC at the Woodstock Film Festival

Anyone who listens to Albany-based Northeast Public Radio knows Julia Taylor, a co-host of three-hour morning program, The Roundtable.

I first met Julia last year, when the Dalai lama thrilled thousands at Andy Lee Field, just up the road from the Colony Cafe, with a public talk. She covered the event for WAMC - which you can hear on 90.9 and 90.3 FM in these parts, as well as, - as the Hudson Valley correspondent, but has since been promoted to Roundtable host. On The Roundtable, you can hear her yukking it up with Joe Donahue and my former college professor, Alan Chartock, who is the chairman of Northeast Public Radio and let me tell you, a brilliant political scientist.

I know. I had a lecture with him once a week when I was an intern at a weekly newspaper he runs, The Legislative Gazette, in Albany. So in some small or large way, I have Alan Chartock to thank, or blame, for my sizzling career in journalism!

Anyhow, I bumped into Julia on Thursday and she told me she was at the film fest to do reporting for the weekly show she hosts on WAMC, "51 Percent." It's a show about women and Julia was in town to speak with women filmmakers.

Early this afternoon, I saw Julia chatting it up with Mary Stuart Masterson outside Utopia Studios, where Ms. Masterson had just participated in a panel discussion on, you guessed it, "Amazing Women In Film."

You also might be interested to know that Julia enjoys Bread Alone in Woodstock, the Semolina bread in particular. And of course, I had to ask her what her favorite movies were. She said, "Pinnocchio," "West Side Story," "Singing in the Rain" and one of my favorites as well, "Garden State."

Fun, fun, fun with the Felice Brothers

The last time I was at the Colony Cafe prior to the film fest was for a Felice Brothers concert. There was singing, there was swaying, there was shouting, there was dancing, there was sweating, there was fire, there was flame and there was Simone on the drums and Big Jim on the accordion.

Like a crisp fall day or swim in the Mill Stream in July, the Felice Brothers have captured the true essence of the Hudson Valley, bottled it and somehow managed to morph it into song and spirit.

These guys with the rough-edge and retro-trucker hats will perform at the Colony Cafe tonight, as part of the Wacbiz-programmed live music here. Love them or hate them, you can be assured of a rowdy hootenanny of an evening. Keep your eyes on Simone. He's always got a trick hidden under his trucker baseball hat.

And I was interested to know that festival co-founder and director of development Laurent Rejto has made a Felice Brothers music video.

The video is for the song, "Trouble Been Hard." Laurent has known Simone "for a bit," he said and mentioned that Simone performed at the very first WFF kickoff party back in 2000.

Laurent is a fan of The Pogues, Tom Waits and The Clash - and he likes The Felice Brothers...

"Kind of the down and dirty."

Laurent said he enjoys The Felice Brothers and these other bands because they are all bout "The underbelly of life explored in kind of in a palatable way."

From there, Laurent spoke of another musician he enjoys, Jackes Brel from Belgium.

"He used t sing about the whores of Amsterdam, these really sordid stories, but it's kind of working class. It reaches the working man and it's about real life. It's not fake -it's not Britney Spears.

Working with the influence of Hungarian Cinema, Laurent said, the Felice Brothers video was "An impromptu thing which was fun and became its own adventure, which is perfect because it captures The Felice Brothers.

This shoot, he said, "was so much about impromptu shootoing and sticking the camera out the window and making the guys feels comfortable.

Watch this video, Laurent said, and "You’ll get to appreciate they're down and dirty ways, but also that pathos that comes with them."

Laurent said the whole approach to the video at the film fest would be low key. It wasn't in the program and he wasn't sure when it would be shown.

By the by, that's Laurent. And those are The Felice Brothers.

Patricia Clarkson on WDST

WDST DJ Greg Gattine and his motion picture co-hort, Malley Bragg, just interviewed actress Patricia Clarkson during WDST's remote broadcast from the Colony Cafe.

Clarkson has appeared in "Far From Heaven," "The Station Agent," "Pieces of April," and "Good Night and Good Luck." Clarkson will participate in the Actor's Dialogue panel discussion Sunday at 10 a.m. at Utopia Studios in Bearsville.

I missed the interview because I was running around taking pictures OF the interview. But Malley told me that Clarkson said...Ryan goslin is the future of American cinema...young filmmakers must perservere and understand that films take a long time to turn around.....the Woodstock Film Festival is really helping to keep independent film alive and promote it.

Clarkson can be seen in "Lars and the Real Girl," Saturday night at 6:45 p.m. at the Tinker Street Cinema and Sunday at the Rosendale Theater at 6 p.m.

Journalism vs. filmmaking

I just attended....and had to leave a little early....a very interesteing panel discussion called, "Where Journalism Ends and Filmmaking Begins," held at Utopia Studios in Bearsville, the former home Todd Rundgren's studio.

These were the participants...

David D'Arcy is a critic for Screen International. He also writes regularly for a wide range of publications and is a frequent commentator for the BBC. His dream is to write about war movies for Guns 'n' Ammo.

Godfrey Cheshire is an Award-winning film critic who served for a decade as chief film critic for New York Press and was a frequent contributor to publications including the New York Times, Film Comment, the Village Voice, Variety, Interview, Cineaste and others. A former Chairman of the New York Film Critics Circle and a member of the National Society of Film Critics and FIPRESCI, Cheshire gained an international reputation for his distinctive writing. He made his directorial debut with the documentary "Moving Midway" premiering at the Woodstock Film Festival.

Michele Ohayon is an award winning director, writer and producer. Credits include "It Was a Wonderful Life" and "Cowboy del Amor," and "Colors Straight Up," which received nominations for the Academy Award¨ for Best Documentary Feature. Ohayon has also produced and directed commercials, episodic television and music videos in addition to being a founding board member of Cinewomen.

Bill Siegel is the executive producer of "The Road to 9/11." As a director/producer, he received an Academy Award¨ nomination for the film, "The Weather Underground."

Robert Stone of Rhinecliff is the Oscar¨-nominated director of the film "Guerrilla: The Taking of Patty Heast," "Radio Bikini" and "Oswald's Ghost."

Molly Thompson launched and runs A&E IndieFilms, the network's feature documentary division. She executive produced "Jesus Camp," a film by Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady, which was nominated for an Academy Award¨. Thompson is also Executive Producer of a film by Nanette Burstein called "American Teen," currently in post-production, and a film on Anna Wintour, directed by RJ Cutler. Other A&E IndieFilms include the Oscar-nominated, Sundance Award-winner Murderball and "My Kid Could Paint That."

The conversation was stimulating, provocative and relevant....

Some hightlights...
D'Arcy - "As a journalist, I don't believe journalism ends anywhere" and "Given the state of journalism now, let's hope there isn't a point where journalism ends and filmmaking begins" and "The media is always dropping stories, if they're picking them up at all."

Stone - "I'm not a journalist. I never have been. I have no desire to be one. I am a filmmaker."

Chesire said his roles as journalist and filmmaker are "very intertwined."

Ohayon - "For me, the difference between journalism and filmmaking is in one word, a point of view."

D'Arcy said in some respects, there is no difference between fiction and non-fiction films. "It's all the same thing. You're telling stories. You're taking people on a journey" and, on filmmaking, "The point is to transcend the subject shown and reveal something about the human condition. If you don't do that, you are just doing journalism."

That's Meira Blaustein introducing the panel. And in the other shot, that's D'Arcy and Stone.

Wireless issues

I've started breathing again after not being able to log on. The word is that the system is a little overwhelmed with the influx of the masses and their tecnological toys. But I got some super secret help that I can't divulge. shhhh.

WDST and Wavy Gravy

I bumped into WDST owner Gary Chetkof as I was walking into the after-party at the Emerson Friday night, literally, just as I bumped into Michelle Esrick, who is making a movie about Merry Prankster and Woodstock festival icon Wavy Gray. A sneak peak of the film was THE highlight of last year's film fest, complete with red noses and Wavy Gray ice cream, from Ben & Jerry's, for the audience.

Michelle said she is about four months into editing the film, with another four to go. She is looking at a spring 2008 release, but also said funding is being sought to finish the film. It's called, "Sain't Misbehavin'"

By the by, WDST will broadcast live from the Colony Cafe this morning, starting at 10 a.m. Check back later for pictures.

Mechanical Bull

Here is more from the live music Friday night. This is Mechanical Bull, which I would say is a cross between mellow Lynyrd Skynyrd and Hank Williams. The slide guitar player pulled off some licks that I will NEVER forget. Very entertaining and very solid. They also work the western motif quite well. And that's no bull.

Friday, Tinker Street Cinema

Here's a photo of the Tinker Street Cinema right before the screening of "How to Cook Your Life" on Friday.

It looks like today is going to be another glorious fall day. Take a walk around Woodstock, Rhinebeck, Rosendale or Hunter. Eat some lunch. Window shop. See a movie.

It's chicks and their flicks, not chick flicks

This morning I will be covering a panel discussion called "Amazing Women in Film." Scheduled panelists include actor/director Mary Stuart Masterson, whose movie "The Cake Eaters" is playing at the festival; producer Katie Roumel; Donna Dickmanis, a vice president at Focus Features; and Karen Durbin, film critic for Elle magazine.

The moderator is US Weekly film reviewer and part-time Hyde Park resident Thelma Adams.

They will discuss whether or not having more women sitting in the director's chair and holding top industry positions has shifted the balance to the point of equality.

Hmm ... I think I know the answer to that one.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Music and more

Here are some shots of one of the bands that played at the Colony Cafe Friday night. First off is Revision......That's Nick Bullock on guitar and vocals and Jon Petronzio on keyboards and vocals....and Devon Reehl's cymbal.

I was more partial to the songs that were totally electric than the ones that incorporated acoustic guitar. But other than that, these guys EXPLODED!....They did pretty well for pulling into a town they haven't played all that much. Audience members were tapping their feet and nodding approval. i would go see these guys anytime, anywhere.

Rock queens go to the movies

I saw Natalie Merchant in the audience of the sold-out screening of Robert Stone's "Oswald's Ghost" documentary at Upstate Films tonight. Back in Woodstock, I was sitting a few seats down from Kate Pierson at the presentation of "Reservation Road."

I'll talk more about the films I saw today in tomorrow's posting. But if I may make a few quick recommendations:

"How to Cook Your Life," aka "Zen and the art of bread making," is for all you foodies, Buddhists and foodie/Buddhists out there. This is playing Saturday at 6:30 p.m. at the Catskill Mountain Foundation Theater in Hudson.

If you've got a baby boomer in your life -- and who doesn't -- take her to "Oswald's Ghost." It's playing Sunday at 1:30 p.m. at Bearsville Theater.

"Reservation Road" is for anyone who has ever experienced loss. It's got great suspense and an excellent cast: Joaquin Phoenix, Jennifer Connelly, Mark Ruffalo and Mira Sorvino. It's playing Saturday at 9:45 p.m. at the Rosendale Theatre.

Rosendale Theater

Running around Woodstock for the weekend, I can forget about the other towns and theaters that play such a crucial role in the Woodstock Film Festival and how it's nice, I think at least, the festival folks spread the wealth around the Hudson Valley.

So I dashed down to the Rosendale Theater after the "Midnight Kiss" flick, in hopes of meeting up with Michael, whose family has owned the Rosendale Theater for decades. Now, in the interest of full disclosure, let me say that I have lived twice in Rosendale, in separate apartments, one of which was diagonally across from the theater. On many nights, I would just saunter over there by myself and evaporate from the world for a couple of hours. AAaahhhh. I miss those days.

The Rosendale Theater is an old casino, from the days when Rosendale was like a wild west frontier was home to the men who worked at the local cement mine and it was also home to a lot of bars and brothels, one of which, I am told, occupied the first apartment I lived in, in Rosendale, across from the Bell Tower.

Just check out vintage candy machines in the lobby. Nice....

Anyway, I also met my wife in Rosendale and enjoy eating at the Rosendale Cafe and the town in general because it reminds me of another town I used to live in, Piermont, NY, just south of Nyack in Rockland County.

So, I missed Michael by five minutes, I was told by his father. So I will have to catch up with him Saturday. But you should know that movies are being shown all weekend at the Rosendale Theater, in Rhinebeck at Upstate Films and in Catskill.

I was also reminded when I was in the lobby in Rosendale that they are having a very special limited engagement run of "Desert Bayou," beginning next Friday, Oct. 19. This movie analyzes the fallout of Hurricane Katrina. The poster, as you can see, is omionous, which I like in a movie poster. I guess we can see the direction this movie will take with the chatter on the poster: "The most devastating thing about Katrina is what it revealed about America."

I am home in Stone Ridge after Rosendale for a brief check in with the life I dropped to cover the film fest, and to feed the cat.

Now, I am off to the Colony Cafe for live music with Revision and Mechanical Bull. Check back tonight for pictures of both these bands and the concertgoers.