Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The film fest is long over, but the movies continue........

For some reason, the aura of the film fest lingers...I am getting slammed by movies.

- My wife and I have been trying to set aside time to watch Michael Moore's "Sicko" for weeks (we got it from Netflix.)

- I just got a DVD of the Tom Petty documentary, "Running Down A Dream."

- I still have to watch the interview with former UN General Secretary Kofi Annan, that is part of the documentary on the U.N. and Darfur that was screened at the WFF, and which was excellent. But this interview wasn't part of the documentary, so I am anxious to see it.

- And I am trying to block out time to see Oliver Stone's "W." This film should be a hoot. I am a big fan of Oliver Stone's, with "JFK" and "The Doors." And I am NOT a big fan of W.

- Thankfully, I did make time to see "All Together Now," the documentary on The Beatles show put together by Cirque Du Soleil, which I missed at the WFF. It was simply fantastic and I am looking forward to watching it again, when I am not on deadline to write a story about it......

More to come once I see all these dang movies......

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Leon Gast -a new film

I think I have recovered from the Woodstock whirlwind, so I can finally catch up on the whole lot of news I gathered while up there.

And here is some big news. Leon Gast, who I first bumped into at the opening night Bela Fleck concert, told me he is working on a new film, and it sounds pretty interesting. This movie is about Juan Gallela, a notorious member of the paparazzi, circa 1970s, who had a legendary relationship with Jacqueline Onassis.

Of course, I don't have to tell you that Leon lives in Ulster County and won the Academy Award for making "When We Were Kings." He also made "The Grateful Dead Movie."

Click here to read a nice recolletion of Gallela by a fellow photographer, which includes a pretty funny story about Ron and Jackie, though I don't think Jackie would find this funny.

Click here for information on a photo book by Gallela, with a great shot of Grace Jones on the cover.

Leon is directing this movie, and Doug Abel, who lives not far from Woodstock, and not far from Leon, and who worked on the Academy Award-winning documentary, "Fog of War," is editing Leon's new movie. Doug's credits also include "30 Rock," "Metallica: Some Kind of Monster" and the 2002 Academy Awards.

"I've worked with a lot of good editors," he told me at the Bearsville Theater on opening night of the Woodstock Film Festival. "He's the best."

Wednesday, October 8, 2008


I still have news from the Woodstock Film Festival that I need to post on this site, but here's a quick time out.

On Sunday, the Journal will publish a list of staff picks: the horror movie that scared me the most. The submissions, from all departments at the paper, have been really creepy. However, one takes the cake. It's from cops reporter Christine Pizzuti and it's posted below. And it's a doozy. I got creeped out just reading it.

But just so you know, the story Sunday will ask readers to submit THEIR pick for the horror movie that scared them the most. This is all in anticipation of Halloween, and the picks of readers will be published in the very near future.

Let's consider this a sneak-peek of Sunday's story. Thanks, Christine:

Christine Pizzuti
General assignment reporter

I’ve seen a lot of horror movies. My friends and I used to have a Christmas Eve tradition of watching Nightmare on Elm Street and the Halloween movies. But those never phase me. The one movie that has stayed with me, and affects the way I enter the house and pick up the phone at night, is When a Stranger Calls — the 1979 version with Carol Kane. The movie takes place in one night, when the baby sitter answers the phone to a stranger asking, “Have you checked the children?” The children are found dismembered in their beds.

I watched the movie in 7th grade at a friend’s house on All Hallow’s Eve. We were in the basement, sitting next to the sliding door, when my friend’s father, wearing a white mask, knocked on the door and disappeared into the night. We ran upstairs screaming, and found him sitting at the kitchen table, eating dinner. He told us there were reports of someone running around the neighborhood with a mask on, and for us to go back downstairs and finish the movie. He said he would let us know if he heard anything. Of course he showed up again at the slider, and we screamed and cried, and he was forced to give up his identity.

So, it’s not as much the movie that scared me, but the association with a practical joke. But I still fear sliders and the possibility of a stranger lurking around the property, waiting to tear off my limbs. Before entering my home at night, I check a lot of the windows from the outside first, and enter the bedroom talking on the cell phone with a kitchen knife in my hand.

Monday, October 6, 2008

I love this town

The reason I missed the screening of "All Together Now," as well as the Garrison Keillor documentary, was that I was offered an opportunity I could not pass up, as a journalist, music lover and student of the Woodstock generation.

During a rare quiet moment at the Colony Cafe during the film festival, I got to talking with Doreen Ringer-Ross, vice-president of film/tv relations at BMI, which, according to the organization's Web site, "collects license fees on behalf of its songwriters, composers and music publishers and distributes them as royalties to those members whose works have been performed."

Hmmm. Artists getting paid for their craft. For someone who writes for a living, and is married to a visual artist, I couldn't be happier about what BMI does.

So I was talking to Doreen at the Colony and after introducing myself I told her how much I enjoyed her panel discussion at the 2007 Woodstock Film Festival with, among others, local hero John Sebastian. It was a good talk with no grizzle and lots of information, lots of facts, and lots of insight on the guy who WAS the Lovin' Spoonful, but who I knew better as the guy who sang the theme to "Welcome Back, Kotter."

I told Doreen I would be attending her talk Friday with Donovan, and then we got to talking about Donovan's documentary, and his legacy. She told me this wonderful story about being with Donovan in Austin, Texas, and a 25-year-old or so radio journalist said something to the effect of, "Donovan, you were around in the 1960s, what's the best drug?" And without missing a beat, Doreen explained, Donovan replied, "Love."

Now, coming from someone else, that could be a condescending, cliche answer. But coming from Donovan, who I learned at the film festival was a real 1960s, flower-power, true to the spirit of Woodstock the concert and Woodstock the town kind of guy, this was holy scripture.

And as she did with Sebastian last year, Doreen during her discussion with Donovan really drew out of of him a lot of great stories, about The Beatles, India, songwriting, working with kids, and more. She really let the audience at the Donovan panel discussion get to know a human being who has done incredible things, a real person, a true human being, rather than a star who existed in some other plane, out of reach from the rest of us.

So while I'm talking to Doreen at the Colony, she invites me to an extremely exclusive dinner at Oriole 9, one of the finer restaurants in downtown Woodstock, just off the village green. I know from years past that this is dinner is a big deal and I'm flattered to be invited and of course, I go.

And what an event it was. I don't want to say the elite or hierarchy of Woodstock was there, because that would be disingenuous. These people are not elite, nor are they a hierarchy. Like Donovan, these are regular people, like you and me, who have done incredible things with their talent, their art, their craft, their love for what they do, then indulged their eagerness and willingness to share it with others.

At the dinner was Michael Lang, the man who staged the 1969 Woodstock concert. There was also Eliott Landy, whose rock and roll photography of Bob Dylan, The Band, Janis Joplin, Van Morrison and many, many others is as much a part of the American music legacy as any band. Donovan was at the dinner, as was legendary cinematographer Haskell Wexler, and so many more I can't put all their names here.

I particularly enjoyed my very brief conversation with Morgan Spurlock, the journalistic genius who a few years ago ate nothing but McDonald's food for a month and chronicled his descent into love handles in a film, "Supersize Me." I told Morgan that his film really made me think about what I eat. He then took a step back, looked me up and down and said, "well, you look pretty dapper."

I chatted with Michael Lang about the Wavy Gravy documentary that is in production and said hello to Elliot Landy, with whom I had spoken last Wednesday at the Bela Fleck concert. And I sat at dinner with Suzanne Hilleary from Wacbiz, Academy Award-winning filmmaker Leon Gast and his wife, Geri; and Ike Phillips from WDST and his wife Carol.

I had a great time. And overseeing it all was Doreen, who sat at one end of a table, just beneath a big BMI banner that read, "You may be independent, but you are not alone." A nice thought for all of these artists in the room, and for this aspiring artistc, as I slug it out at the local daily newspaper, and try to make my way as a writer, striving to reach that horizon beyond the daily deadlines and fading future of the newspaper industry in the U.S.

Leon spoke about recording sessions where Billy Joel and David Sanborn were unknown studio musicians; Leon and Ike spoke about the days when you could just dial the last four digits of a phone number in Woodstock, and leave out the 679 you now need (that conversation was spurred by the name of the restaurant, Oriole 9, which recalled the days when 6-7-9, the Woodstock phone exchange, was called, O-R-9, or Oriole 9.)

Ike and Leon also had some great stories about the Rolling Stones recording at Bearsville Studios, up the road from the village green in Woodstock, and the legendary private party the Stones threw at the Joyous Lake, once a club, now home to Not Fade Away clothing.

This was a real party, with real people, who discovered something they love to do and worked their entire professional lives at doing it as best as they could. They were inspiring to me, as artists and as people. I've had some pretty extraordinary times at past Woodstock Film Festivals, filming a one-on-one video interview with Wavy Gravy, watching Trey Anastasio and Mike Gordon from Phish play a surprise set at the now-closed Allaire Studios, and speaking with Peter Gabriel after a screening of his daughter's documentary.

But this BMI dinner was an event for the ages.

I had a great time.

Thank you, Doreen.
See you next year?

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Goodnight Irene.

It's midnight and I am spent, tapped, fried, floundered, cooked, roasted, broiled basted and beat. Stick a fork in me because I-A-M-D-O-N-E.

But I've got plenty more to add and will be back at this blog first thing Monday morning, just as soon as I go throgh the hundreds of e-mails I haven't looked at since the film festival started last Wednesday.

Many thanks to Meira, Laurent, Ilene, Gabe, Reni, Lisa, Andrea, Donovan, Paul, George, Ringo, John, Earl, Sterling, Maeve, Mick, Keith, Sleepy, Dopey, and whoever else I have forgotten. It was a blast....

One that got away - I'll have to wait until Oct. 21

I had planned to see, and was very excited and very much looking forward to, a movie called "All Together Now," which chronicles the Cirque Du Soleil show that was built around Beatles music, called "Love," and made with Paul, Ringo and Yoko's blessing. "Love" was screened at the Woodstock Film Festival Friday night.

We can all see "All Together Now," Oct. 21, when it comes out on DVD. Read more about the Cirque Du Soleil show by clicking here and you can read about the movie by clicking here

And this looks like fun, contained on the DVD, along with the 84-minute documentary:

‘All Together Now’ documentary (84:00)

Bonus Features:

“Changing The Music” 22 minutes: An in-depth look at the decision to rework and remix the Beatles music for the show

“Music In The Theatre” 9 minutes: A look at the process of creating the LOVE show’s unique audio design in the theater

“Making ‘LOVE’” 10 minutes: A backstage pass to explore the design of LOVE, including the art direction, costumes, props, screen imagery and the use of The Beatles’ voices in the stage production and soundtrack.

My next posting will explain why I missed this movie, but here is a little bit from the director, with whom I spoke last week:

Adrian Wills had worked for Cirque before working on this film, and actually, when he started shooting this movie, there was no movie, which worked to his advantage.

- "We went in under the radar."

- "It was kind of clandestine, that is why the film is so intimate."

- "When you are making a Cirque Du Soleil film, they really don’t care about you, they have a huge show to put out. You are kind of an annoyance, you have to figure out a way so they don’t know you are shooting."

- The interview with Ringo Starr was 16 minutes long - only 9 minutes longer than when I had him on the phone this summer, before his show at Bethel Woods - and 12 minutes of that were used in the film.

- "The whole film was an insane challenge."

- "The film is crafted on moments and interviews and we really picked the times we would go in and talk to people, and be at places."

- "My first reaction was, 'oh my God, it’s a film with The Beatles and Cirque Du Soleil.' "

- Wills had 90 minutes with Beatles producer George Martin and his son, Giles, the duo in charge of the music aspect of "Love," and George Martin discussed the last time he saw John Lennon.

- The spirit of George Harrison was strong, Wills said - "You really got the feeling they were doing this for George."

I haven't seen this movie, but I have heard the CD of the music used in the show and it is mind-bending, psychedelica, pure Beatles post-"Revolver" weirdness. The Martins layered songs, removed tracks, so, for example, some songs now only have a vocal track, or this instrument or that instrument, or there are crazy segues that are just so, well-Beatles-esque.

And this is sacred territory for me. The Beatles album, "1962-66," the red one, where they are looking over the hotel balcony, was my doorway into rock 'n' roll in 6th grade. These guys, for me, mark the spot where it all started, and The Beatles are a big reason why I write about music for a living today.

Speaking with Ringo on the phone for five minutes earlier this year was a holy experience. I was shaking before, during and after. So I really can't wait for this DVD to come out.

Bravo, boys!!

Mary Stuart Masterson - jury duty and a crush on Mrs. Lee Marvin

....was among those laughing the loudest when Kevin Smith was giving his raunchy acceptance speech.
She also told the audience that while she was serving as a juror for films in the film fest, she was actually serving real jury duty.

She also said the following after speaking immediately after Mrs. Lee Marvin:

" I got to sit in a car with her for 20 minutes and I have a crush."

hmm. OK. Whatever you say, Mary Stuart Masterson.

Throwing the script to Jaws in the fire

I had heard in the past of the bits and pieces of Lee Marvin's connection to Woodstock, but this Hollywood bad boy's widow really filled in the dots when she presented an award at the awards ceremony Saturday night.

I didn't know that:

- Lee Marvin vacationed in Woodstock with his family as a boy
- He was obsessed with fishing and honed his love in the many streams of the Catskill Mountains
- He served in the Marine Corps during World War II, in the Pacific Theater
- In 1945, his family bought a home in Woodstock
- He acted for the first time in a Maverick Theater production in Woodstock, earning $7 a month for playing the lead
- The couple married in 1970
- Lee Marvin was a stickler for narrative
- After reading the script to Jaws, which I guess could have been his, though I'm not sure which role, he began hurling expletives from his mouth before hurling the script into the fireplace
- When making "The Big Red One," he eithe cut his dialogue altogether or gave it to another actor, because his "character just wouldn't say it."

Earl. Gail. Sterling and Saphin

Here are some pictures from the big gig at the Colony Cafe Friday night. Earl Slick on guitar, Gail Ann Dorsey on bass and Sterling Campbell on drums showed why David Bowie has them backing him up. That's Saphin on vocals.

Playing catch-up on WDST

These pictures are from Saturday, but I'm just getting to them now...it's Carmel, Gattine and Malley broadcasting from the Colony Cafe......

He loves NY

I saw a pretty good documentary tonight on the graphic designer and illustrator, who created the "I Love NY" logo. And he never earned a dime for it.

Milton lives in New York City but has had a second home in Woodstock for more than 40 years. He also designed the logos for the Bear Cafe in Woodstock, Grand Union supermarkets, Brooklyn Beer and tons of other stuff, including this iconic album cover for Bob Dylan, the image of which I got from www.woodstockfilmfestival.com:

Milton's not big on using the computer, but he does like the fact that his office window opens up to a school playground, so about noon each school day, the sounds of kids playing inspires him.

A good flick on somebody who seems like a good guy.

Attention Sen. John McCain and Gov. Sarah Palin

I haven't seen any of your supporters in Woodstock this weekend, but in the interest of ethics, fairness, and everything I learned in Kindergarten, I am anxious and eager to post either:

a) Pictures of people bashing Sen. Obama and Sen. Biden
b)Pictures of people supporting either McCain or Palin
c) Other

In the meantime, let's watch Sarah Palin impersonate Tina Fey impersonating Sarah Palin. Just click here.

There is a W in Woodstock, but you'll never likely to see this other W. in Woodstock

I hear it was President George W. Bush Day in Woodstock Saturday..........

The End is Near, but more awards photos first

The end is at hand. WFF base camp is shut down at the Colony Cafe and the last films will be rolling soon.

After wandering a bit through Woodstock, and enjoying quite nicely the weekly Sunday afternoon drum circle on the green, I have landed in the lounge of the Bearsville Theater, with wireless up and about 45 minutes until my last film.

As this is a time to reflect, here are some photos, courtesy of the film fest, of Saturday night's awards ceremony......click here.

I gotta go

I am home again to blog, but am leaving for my final round-up at the film fest. First to the Colony Cafe for some yukking it up, then off to see Milton Glaser at 6:30....

later alligator.

A story with sole

So I was waiting with my wife for "32A" to begin when this guy sits down across the aisle from us, with these outrageous shoes......

The guy wearing the shoes was Steve Schoen from High Falls. The shoes were designed and brought to life by Richard Murphy, who owns The Egg's Nest in High Falls. If you've ever been in that restaurant, then the shoes make sense, as the interior decorating is similar to the shoes.

Click here to learn more about Steve.

The Quinn siblings score big in Rosendale

The Irish are taking over this film festival. First it was "Eden," now it's "32A," which, to quote the main character of the film, 14-year-old Maeve, "it was GRAND!"

These characters were real, the parallel story lines were gripping, and anyone who loved or hated their teenage years will identify with the rebellion, the clique of friends, the boyfriend or girlfriend, fake ID, hassling with the folks and getting punished. Marian Quinn, above at the q and a, directed; her brother, High Falls resident and actor Aidan Quinn, starred in the film.

Anyone who was young in 1979 will identify with Maeve's brother solving the Rubik's Cube and Maeve receiving Joe Jackson's "Look Sharp" record as a gift for her 15 birthday.

What a movie. I loved it, loved it, loved it.

I asked Aidan Quinn during the Q and A after what it was like working with a script that contained so little dialogue for his character, Maeve's Dad. He said jokingly, "when your sister is the director, you do what your told."

P.S. - Aidan's High Falls neighbor, Gerry Leonard, scored the movie, which, to again quote Maeve, was "BRILLIANT!" Gerry's gentle touch went a long way. Click here to read about Gerry and the movie, and to hear Gerry play his original composition, "The Getaway."

Giddy up!

It's 11:41 a.m. and I am still in my pajamas, filing blog posts.

I have to shower, drink 10 more cups of tea, and be at the Rosendale Theater, about 15 minutes away, by 12:45, for "32A," and the q and a with Aidan and Marian Quinn that follows.

I hope I make it.
Wish me luck.

More later from Woodstock. I've got the Milton Glaser documentary at 6:30 p.m. and a lot of posting in between from the Colony.

Thursday, Oct. 2, a lifetime ago

After reading the Poughkeepsie Journal each day, I enjoy the Daily News.

I bought this copy of the paper last Thursday, on my way up to Woodstock for the film festival. But I have literally been running around like a mad man since arriving there on WEDNESDAY - and I still haven't read the paper. So I figured I would at least post a picture of it here. why not?

Donovan - what a show.

I was only at the sold-out, Saturday night Donovan concert for about 25 minutes, because I had to get to Kingston for the awards ceremony. But this guy sure knows how to work a room. The Colony Cafe was packed, everyone was singing along and there was love, love, love in the air. Everything I heard this guy talking about - in the documentary, at the panel discussion, about peace and love and renaissance and poetry and the 1960s - he embodies it. He lives it. He really is a pied piper. He lead that room through some peace and love, man, for sure. It was happy AND peppy AND bursting with love, to quote Felix Unger.


Saturday afternoon in Woodstock

The film fest vibe hits something of a crescendo on Saturday afternoon. It's pretty cool. The streets are packed, traffic is backed up. There is a V-I-B-E.

Here are some pictures I took on a walk from the Colony Cafe to the Tinker Street Cinema.....

A word on the winners.....


- I was handed a ticket to see this Saturday morning at WFF base camp. I had no plans to see it, but my schedule opened up. I was looking forward to seeing it after hearing in Meira's introduction that Prince had won top prize at the LA film festival. Also, one of the filmmakers announced that the movie would be shown at the exact same time - 4:15 p.m. Saturday - in Krakow, Poland, at a film festival there, 10:15 p.m. Krakow time.

I had to leave early to attend to some personal matters in Kingston - namely, seeing my wife, who I hadn't really seen since Tuesday, and going to two art openings - so I really only saw the setup - Two guys in NYC lure pedestrians into a back room of a clothing store, where they sell Prada and Gucci and Nike knockoffs - shoes handbags, etc. Then, one of the guys, I think his name was Lucky, is approached by a woman, her girlfriend, and the small child the woman she is holding. While Lucky is working over two middle-aged woman looking for shoes, the woman basically dumps the kid on Lucky and takes off with her new boyfriend.

When I left, ol' Lucky was trying to figure out what to do. This movie didn't really leave any impression on me either way, good or bad, and I didn't feel bad leaving early because I didn't think I'd miss anything. Apparently, I blew it.

The Diane Seligman Award for BEST SHORT DOCUMENTARY went to PICKIN’ AND TRIMMIN’, directed by Matt Morris.

This short was G-R-E-A-T. I saw it and am glad I did. It focused on a barber shop in Drexel, North Carolina, that is run by a guy who is probably 70. There is a back room in which musicians gather every Saturday and jam hard on bluegrass - guitar, stand-up bass, fiddle, banjo - you get the idea. The music was great, the characters, all real people, were even better. This was right out of The Andy Griffith Show.

A few fine details - The certificate on the wall from the "North Carolina Board of Barber Examiners." The sign with new prices on the wall and their "Efective" date. And that old Barber shop light, wiht the red and blue lines, from when I was a kid. You know what I mean. I remember hearing that that dates back to the days when the local barber was also the local doctor.

The Haskell Wexler Award for BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY went to AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD, directed by Dan Stone and shot by Daniel Fernandez, Tim Gorski, Simeon Houtman, James Joyner, Jonathan Kane, Mathieu Mauvernay, and John “Rip” Odebralski.

- THIS WAS THE BEST MOVIE I SAW AT THE FILM FEST. The Sea Shephers roam the Antarctic sea, looking for ships that illegaly hunt whales in a sanctuary. They mess with these hunters big time - ram their ship up against the hunting ship, have their helicopter buzz them, destroy propellers with big mesh ropes. A gripping point came when they lost one of their chase pontoon boats, which circle the whalers and like the whole team, just mess with their heads. What a film. What a story. And you are right up front for everything, on the bridge, in the helicopter. Great stuff and a great cause.

And consider the fact that I was very late for this movie and didn't even have a ticket - I only caught the last 20 minutes of a 96 minute movie.

And that picture up top is from the film, and I wanted to go see it based on that alone.

Also, a filmmaker speaking after the movie said the Japanese government - the whalers in the movie - have issued arrest warrants for three Sea Shepherds crew members.

Uptown Saturday Night

You would not have believed the scene on Wall Street and Front Street in Uptown Kingston Saturday night.

The awards were at Backstage Studio Productions on Wall Street, and after the ceremony, being the old man that I am, I forewent the after hang and went home. But Uptown was J-U-M-P-I-N-G.

Maybe it's always like this? It was a scene-and-a-half, just like New York City, which just added to the whole Woodstock Film Festival mojo.

So I am walking south on Front Street and I see Kevin Smith, award in hand, about to get into a monster SUV. I hand him my card, but there was a crowd of people on the sidewalk, who had obviously just left a bar, hugging the guy, and saying repeatedly, "I can't believe it's him." It was like they had seen the president or Derek Jeter.

It was very cool.

I actually walked a couple block with the guy who presented the award to Kevin and we both agreed that Smith should be doing standup.

Kevin Smith - the funniest man on the face of the earth

I have NEVER heard anyone, ever, anywhere, anytime, be so funny as I did Saturday night at the WFF awards ceremony. Kevin Smith, the man behind "Clerks" and so many other wacked out movies, got the Maverick Award and told some of the raunchiest, off-color, downright obscene jokes I have ever heard in my life. To say a sailor would blush would not capture the spirit of his acceptance speech.

He skewered Ang Lee, James Schamus AND his wife. He told this hilarious story about having to use the bathroom at a Laser Blaser DVD store during a poker game in a back room and the toilet was suspended from the wall rather than on a base on the floor and - well, you can probably figure out what happened. Kevin is a very, very big guy and let's just say the wall support didn't last.

Kevin also expanded the joke that emcee Ron Nyswaner made during the opening monologue about Harvey White, the original Woodstock Maverick, who, according to Nyswaner, was a cross-dresser and socialist. Kevin Smith's proposal for renaming the Maverick Award bordered on the uncomfortable and could have been awkward, except that the 1,000 or so people at the awards ceremony were laughing - LOUDLY.

Smith, like Nyswaner, alluded to the vp debate the other night, which I didn't see yet because I was covering the WFF. But I guess ol' moose-hunting, book-banning Sarah Palin kept using the word Maverick. Nyswaner mocked her on that and Smith said:

"In any other year, it would have ben great to be called a maverick."

On Ang Lee, Smith said:

"The dude does something different every time out. And as you heard, he barely speaks English."

On himself:
"I've made the same movie eight times and 15 years later they say I'm a maverick and I'm like, whatever."

On his wife:

"My god I love you. You rock so hard."

He also said something to the effect of, "I never would have been able to this without you, but wait, I was doing this before I met you, but I never would have CONTINUED doing this if I didn't meet you."

The other stuff Kevin said about his wife cannot be repeated in print, even on a blog, because there would be phone calls and I would be called out to the woodshed at work, or I would hear my boss say what an old boss used to say when something went awry: "Barry, Come here to me!!"

Ang Lee - Like A Virgin

Ang Lee sat at the head table at the awards ceremony last night, next to Michael Lang, who brought us the 1969 Woodstock Festival, and interestingly enough, Ang is making that movie about the festival......

Ang presented the Trailblazer Award to James Schamus, his collaborator, and Ang was extremely soft-spoken, a gentle soul, a man who seems very happy and who seemed to maintain this very, very soft smile throughout the night. It was a bit inspiring to be so close to an Academy Award winner. That's Haskell Wexler, a cinematographer who was lauded, revered and praised throughout the night last night, and who won a lifetime achievement award; and Kevin Smith, who got the Maverick Award, and who is THE funniest person I've ever seen in my life.

Here are some thoughts from Ang, who was eloquent and enlightening:

- "James, I'm really impressed."
Ang said he relies on Schamus in a big way on a lot of things:

- He recalled one week:
"James, Hulk 2 is opening this week. I've got Hulk and the Met Opera announced they will make "Brokeback Mountain" an opera, the press is one me, what should I say, James? What do you think?"

- "Everytime I make a movie is like Madonna singing "Like A Virgin" - every time is like the first time."

- "The most important thing for a filmmaker is to be honest - honest with themself."

- Ang declined to tell the story of how he and Schamus met: "I've been milking that cow for two long now."

- Ang described his new movie, "Taking Woodstock," as a "comedy," just as Schamus did earlier that day in a panel discussion.

- "A trailblazer is someone who hacks away the bushes in the way, so you can go to unknown territory. I think this is what filmmaking is about."

Ruthlessly Efficient

This year marks my sixth film festival. But last night was my first awards ceremony. I never went because, well, I don't like awards ceremonies, be it the Emmys, Oscars or Grammys on television. I think THOSE shows are downright silly and just plan self-congratulatory. To me, it's a bunch of wealthy people telling each other and themselves how great they are, AND they get a stupid little statue to boot.

But the Woodstock Film Festival Awards ceremony last night was different. Held in the cavernous Backstage Studio Productions on Wall Street in Uptown Kingston, they had the glitz of a Hollywood movie launch party but the feel of an edgy, underground nightclub, with a bad-boy New York City vibe that really resonated throughout the room and the more than 1,000 people in attendance.


James Schamus, Ang Lee's-longtime collaborator, and an Academy Award-nominee, who probably is a millionaire but comes across simply as a guy who loves film,
called the Awards ceremony, "ruthlessly efficient," and it was, it moved along at a brisk pace, but was not hurried, and everyone kept their speeches short and sweet and to the point, except for Melissa Leo, who rambled on and on, but had also flown in from New Orleans, then had trouble renting from Dollar-Rent-A-Car at JFK, but then got a "cute Chevy."

Oh yeah, Schamus also said he had fun at the awards ceremony.

But enough of all this dribble.

Bravo to Meira and Laurent.

Here are the winners, the categories, the presenters and the prizes:

• PRINCE OF BROADWAY, directed by Sean Baker
(Honorable Mention: MEDICINE FOR MELANCHOLY, directed by Barry Jenkins)

• IN A DREAM, directed by Jeremiah Zagar takes BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

Presenters included: Ang Lee, Melissa Leo, John Sayles, Maggie Renzi, David Strathairn, Morgan Spurlock, Haskell Wexler, Amy Taubin, Karen Durbin, Bill Plympton, Ryan Harrington, John Sloss, Amy Gossels, Ellen Kuras, Pamela Marvin, Sabine Hoffman, and Sloane Klevin.

(Woodstock, NY)—October 4th, 2007—The 2008 Woodstock Film Festival's Maverick Awards ceremony was held Saturday night, Oct. 4th, with director Sean Baker’s PRINCE OF BROADWAY taking Best Feature Narrative and director Jeremiah Zagar’s IN A DREAM winning for Best Feature Documentary. More than 300 indie film movers and shakers attended the gala event, held at Backstage Productions in Kingston, NY just outside the Woodstock arts colony.

Best Feature Narrative PRINCE OF BROADWAY is the story of Lucky and Levon, two men whose lives converge in the underbelly of New York’s wholesale fashion district. Set in the shadow of the Flatiron building and soaked in the colorful bustle of Broadway, the film is as much a brutal drama as it is a tender comedy. Shot in a fast-paced guerilla style that is akin to the hustler lifestyle, the film reveals the lives of immigrants in America seeking the ideals of family of love, while creating their own knock-off of the American Dream. (WFF East Coast Premiere).

Best Feature Documentary, IN A DREAM, quickly turns from a character study to an incredible personal, powerful and stirring drama. It is an unparalleled visceral and emotional experience. Shot over the course of several years, Zagar’s film is the kind of brutally honest and often beautiful look at the tumultuous time in his parent’s marriage that only a son could have captured.

The Diane Seligman Award for BEST SHORT NARRATIVE went to GLORY AT SEA, directed by Benh Zeitlin.

The Diane Seligman Award for BEST STUDENT SHORT FILM went to SIKUMI (On the Ice), directed by Andrew Okpeaha Maclean.

The Diane Seligman Award for BEST SHORT DOCUMENTARY went to PICKIN’ AND TRIMMIN’, directed by Matt Morris.

The Maverick Award for BEST ANIMATED FILM went to BERNI’S DOLL, directed by Yann J (Jouette).

The Haskell Wexler Award for BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY went to AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD, directed by Dan Stone and shot by Daniel Fernandez, Tim Gorski, Simeon Houtman, James Joyner, Jonathan Kane, Mathieu Mauvernay, and John “Rip” Odebralski.

The James Lyons Award for BEST EDITING of a FEATURE DOCUMENTARY went to IN A DREAM, Keiko Deguchi, Editor, Sam Pollard, Consulting Editor.

The James Lyons Award for BEST EDITING of a FEATURE NARRATIVE went to WERE THE WORLD MINE, Jennifer Lilly, Editor.

THE HONORARY LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD was presented to cinematographer Haskell Wexler, by writer/director/actor John Sayles, producer Maggie Renzi, and actor David Strathairn (award previously announced).

THE HONORARY MAVERICK AWARD was presented to director/screenwriter/actor/editor/comic book writer, Kevin Smith, by producer John Sloss (award previously announced).

THE HONORARY TRAILBLAZER AWARD was presented to James Shamus, CEO of Focus Features and award winning writer/producer, by director Ang Lee and actor Melissa Lee (award previously announced).

The Woodstock Film Festival has an outstanding group of industry leaders who make up the jury for each category of competition:
Feature Jurors: Matt Dentler, Mark Duplass, Ted Hope and Mary Stuart Masterson
Feature Documentary Jurors: Rachel Grady, Morgan Spurlock and Molly Thompson
Shorts Jurors: Peter Bowen, Karen Durbin and Ross Partridge
Short Doc Jurors: Ryan Harrington, Stephen Nemeth and Timothy Sternberg.
Student Short Film Jurors: Amy Gossels and Jeremiah Newton
Animation Jurors: Signe Baumane, Bill Plympton and Patrick Smith.
Cinematography Juror: Haskell Wexler
Editing Jurors (Narrative): Sabine Hoffman, Brian A. Kates and Kate Williams
Editing Jurors (Documentary): Sabine Hoffman, Sloane Klevin and Susan Littenberg

The Maverick Award Trophies are designed and hand-crafted by artist Steve Heller, who shows his work at his Fabulous Furniture gallery in Boiceville, NY.

Trophy plus $5000 check from Pamela Marvin
One-Year FilmTracker Gift Certificate from Baseline StudioSystem ($2,000 value)
One week of off line editing and one day of online editing from the Post Factory

Trophy plus One-Year FilmTracker Gift Certificate from Baseline StudioSystem ($2,000 value)

Trophy plus $750 check from Lowel Light and One (1) Lowel DV Creator 55 Light Kit ($2,000 value for kit)

Trophy plus $750 check from Lowel Light and One (1) Lowel DV Creator 55 Light Kit ($2,000 value for kit)

Trophy plus $750 check from Lowel Light and One (1) Lowel DV Creator 55 Light Kit ($2,000 value for kit)

Trophy plus $1000 check

Trophy plus $1000 check

Trophy plus Film Camera Equipment from Panavision ($15,000 value)

Trophy plus a DVD Duplication Series from Disc Makers

The Awards Ceremony was co-sponsored by the Ulster County Chamber of Commerce, and was followed by a party sponsored by 120db Films, with beverages provided by Barefoot Wines.

The Sponsors for the 2008 Woodstock Film Festival are:
Gold Sponsor: 120 dB Films
Silver Sponsors: A & E Indie Films; Ciroc Vodka, Diageo North America; Time
Superstar Sponsors: 100.1 WDST; BMI; Fuze; Lowel Light
Award Sponsors: Inbaseline; Final Cut Studio Pro; Filmtracker.com; The James Lyons Estate; The Lee Marvin Estate; Lowel Ligh; Panavision, NY; Post Factory, NY; Steve Heller’s Fabulous Furniture; Writer’s Guild of America, East
Official Wine: Barefoot Wine & Bubbly
Media Support: Chronogram; Daily Freeman; DiscMakers; Insideout
Event Support: Backstage Productions; Emerson Resort & Spa; Libation NYC; Lotus Gallery; Oriole 9; New World Home Cooking; Sal Guido; Skytop Steakhouse & Brewery; Waste Management, Kingston
Food Support: Larabar; Adam’s Fairacre Farm; Bread Alone; Bistro to Go; Catskill Mountain Organic Coffee; Hurley Ridge Market; Lucky Chocolates; Organic Nectars
Foundation Support: Dutchess County Arts Council; ETC (Experimental TV Center); JP Morgan Chase; Lee and Peter Mayer Foundation; M & T Bank; The Perry & Martin Granoff Family Foundation; Florence Belsky Charitable Foundation; The Klock Foundation

Saturday, October 4, 2008

I'm outta here

I am going to get a quick hit of sunshine, then catch a movie at the Tinker Street - Prince of Broadway, maybe? - then it's down to Kingston for two non-WFF art openings, then back to Woodstock for Donovan, then back down to Kingston for the awards cermony.

And I am not touching that Thruway with a ten-foot pole.

What day is today?

Live music and more

The Donovan concert is sold out tonight, but Reni Cantine, pictured above, will play after the Donovan concert, with drummer Jerry Marotta, who has played with everyone from Paul McCartney to Peter Gabriel, and Flash, who has performed with George Clinton and P-Funk. That takes place right after Donovan.

Also, "Johnny Cash's America" will be shown at the Bearsville Theater at 9:30 p.m. This film is not sold out but it is excellent. I saw it. It was great. Just great. Do yourself a favor, go see Reni and the gang, then go see Johnny save our country.

A thing for Cantonese pop music

James Schamus is a big deal. The guy has been nominated for Oscars, has worked repeatedly with Ang Lee, runs Focus Features AND is a film professor at Columbia U.

But he told the audience at a panel discussion today that he started out as an intern, "enslaved" to egomaniacs, getting coffee for people, and the coffee which was "always not hot enough or too hot." Karen Durbin moderated.

Schamus also worked on "Newsnight with Connie Chung" and back in the day, worked on recreations of hostage-taking news events. He is working on a film now with Lee, "Taking Woodstock," about the 1969 Woodstock festival, which he said took place in Bethel, "a dump" of a town.

He also said he has "a thing for Cantonese pop music," which he indulged in when writing lyrics to a song in "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon."

More on this later, and in Sunday's Journal.

I love my job.

Even more than covering the Woodstock Film Festival, I love my job.

Take this morning for instance. I got up at 7 after getting to bed at 2 a.m. I got into the office, made a round of cop calls, updated the Journal Web site and made some calls on what looked like a horrific car accident on Noxon Road in LaGrange. I sure hope those people are alright.

So there I had it, a morning of hard breaking news, which I love covering, just as I did for eight years before becoming the music writer here at the Journal. Along with the O.J. verdict and the financail bailout by the feds, it was busy, and I left Poughkeepsie at 11:30 a.m. - FOR A NOON PANEL DISCUSSION IN WOODSTOCK!!

It takes an hour to get to Woodstock by back roads, so I hopped on the Thruway and was l-o-o-k-i-n-g-g-o-o-d....Until I was passing, probably throgh Rifton, and then I saw it, much to my horror......I found this...

A traffic jam.
At this point, noon was approaching and my panel discussion was slipping away.

And then my clock was moving faster than the traffic...Then noon arrived.

And on time marched, and there i crawled, a mile marker whatever on the Thruway...And then it was 12:05.

Then traffic got under way and - what do you know!! no accident, no disabled vehicle. no nothing. Maybe all was well and there was no accident, no carnage, no nothing. I hope so. I arrived in Bearsville - of course, this event wasn't in downtown Woodstock, but about 3 miles and 10 minutes more in Bearsville - at about 12:30 p.m. No worries. I covered the panel and it was very interesting...

More to come on that in a bit and I'll find out doggone it what caused the traffic backup....

Friday, October 3, 2008

Forget the WFF. How about the JWBFF

I've just announced the John W. Barry Film Festival. The first annual, in Stone Ridge, and it is not open to the public, except for my wife and my cat.

My two latest Netflix arrivals will be screened - Michael Moore's "Sicko" and "The Odd Couple" television program, season 2, disc 4. Obscene amounts of Chinese take-out food will be inhaled. I'll let you know how it goes.

More later. I'm going to catch that film. Then I will collapse from exhaustion.

Ok. I'm back.

I've calmed down and am now REALLY late for that movie - what was the title again? Which venue? What day is it?

A good laugh

So because I am out of patience, I went outside to get some fresh air and a woman with a headset starts looking at me and talking at me, saying, "I know you told me when the soundcheck starts, but I forgot."

I'm about to tell her she must have confused me with someone else, when I realize she's talking into her headset. A good laugh for sure.

While I was outside I took these pictures just to remind myself that I am having a good time. Even if I am not having a good time right now. Thank you and GOOD NIGHT!

the gears are slipping

Ok, it's happening again this year. I'm tired, exhausted, irritable and want nothing more than to slip into a dark room and watch a movie. But I'm late for the 5:15 documentary I don't even have a ticket for and because I can't find an outlet, I have my laptop on a chair on the balcony, and it's rather uncomfortable.

So it's a chair facing a chair, with me in one chair, and the laptop on the other.

And because I have my laptop on a chair, I have my memory card reader on the floor, so I just kicked it by accident and damaged the memory card, but luckily it still works. But I am really tired right now and want to go to a movie. But enough about me, what do you think of me?

Diddy at the Woodstock Film Festival

But it's not what you think. However, I did find this banner at WFF base camp a tad bizarre, given all the peace and love that flows through this room and this town on a yearly-basis......

The band has arrived

Gail Ann Dorsey and Sterling Campbell have arrived. Instruments are being put in place, things are getting set up and Woodstock in general is gearing up for a big Friday night.

Here is a shot of Sterling setting things up...

Back to Pride and Glory

So there was this scene in "Pride and Glory" with Colin Farrell, playing a corrupt police officer, is trying to squeeze information out of some really, really bad guy.

Colin and his partner burst into this apartment John Wayne style, kick down the door, blah blah blah, and just start destroying the place. At one point, a woman emerges from a room holding a baby. Colin sucker punches the mom and takes the baby. Then, to squeeze and squeeze, he tells his partner to call child protective services and tell them that they have a baby with major burns, then Colin, old boy, takes the baby over to the ironing board and threatens to burn this newborn. it was an incredibly intense scene and one, I think, that really crossed the line of bad taste and simple indecency.

I love a good shoot-em-up thriller movie, but this was really tasteless.

The director after the show said everyone was dreading the day of shooting that scene.
The director's brother, who I think edited the film, said the entire picture was aimed at a sophisticated audience. I found it hard to reconcile that.....But maybe it's just me.

WFF photo gallery

Click here to see a link to photos shot by the film fest folks.....

Donovan covers it all.

The 1960s pop sensation Donovan a short while ago concluded an engaging one-on-one panel discussion at the Woodstock Film Festival. Donovan was interviwed by Doreen Ringer-Ross, vice-president of film/tv relations at BMI, an organization that collects royalties on behalf of songwriters.

- He sang a verse to "Hurdy Gurdy Man" that George Harrison wrote, that was not included in the original recording.
- He shared his thoughts on aging: no dairy, no fats, eat vegetarian as much as possible, drop the wheat and meditate, meditate, meditate.
- When asked why he didn't perform at the 1969 Woodstock Festival, even though it is believed that the promters pursued him, he said, "I was doing something else."
- He said he will release a new double album soon, "Ritual Groove," and launch a two-year tour next spring.
- He ate breakfast with his long-time friend Arlo Guthrie in Woodstock this morning. Arlo arrived in town last night.
- He discussed his work with the quirky film and television director David Lynch, who is working through a foundation he created to bring transcendental meditation to troubled schools and children with ADHD, worldwide. Donovan is providing the live music for the project, which is being filmed for a documentary.
- He told a funny story about lending his music to a new perfume, traveling to Paris to play at a party for the perfume and meeting Liza Minneli there. He asked Liza out to dinner, and she turned him down.
- Donovan gets his modern music information from his 17-year-old grandson and 14-year-old granddaughter - Evanescence and Placebo.
- John Sebastian of Woodstock, Donovan's long-time friend, was going to perform with him Saturday at the Colony Cafe, but Sebastian has a gig.
- He said he was really into Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie while a young musician, forming his identity.
- Friends in the early 1960s alerted him to another songwriter. They said, "There's another guy and he's got a hat and a harmonica and he's doing what you're doing."
- Donovan said Dylan introduced him to the Beatles, with whom he felt a strong kinship because he shared an Irish heritage with Lennon and McCartney, which are both Irish names, according to Donovan; and Glasgow, where Donovan was from, and Liverpool, are both seaports.
- Donovan said he and George Harrison got so heavily involvd with transcendental meditation beacause they were seeking out the "roots of human suffering."

Donovan's concert is sold-out. "Sunshine Superman: The Journey of Donovan" will be shown Sunday at 3:15 p.m. at the Rosendale Theater.