Thursday, January 20, 2011


Ever since the Woodstock Film Festival was launched in the fall of 2000 the January trip to snowy Park City, Utah has become my annual tradition. Sundance is the launching pad for many emerging and established filmmakers world wide and marks the starting line for a new and exciting crop of films for the given year. Many of these films, seen for the first time by thousands of key taste makers, will go on to garner multitude of coveted awards throughout the year and will be regarded as some of the most evocative, creative and innovative films of that year. The sense of discovery, sitting in the darkened theater, surrounded by all the key distributors and industry members, and seeing an exciting film for the very first time is unparalleled. It is that discovery of an unexpected gem that will later make its way to hundreds and thousands of screens and move millions of hearts that is truly most special. Past films such as Winters Bone, Precious and Memento come to mind.

I’ve traveled to Sundance alone and I have traveled with company. I stayed alone in a hotel room and I stayed with a large group in a condo. Naturally its easier to travel with colleagues, and this year I’m fortunate to travel with both Ilene Marder, our Communication Director and board member, and Heidi Johnson, our Office Manager and Operations Director, as well as friend and colleague actress Reagan Leonard. And I am to meet up with colleagues Katie Cokinos and Anne Walker - McBay of Richard Linklater’s Slacker (which is screening at Sundance’s Collector’s Circle program this year). This should make the trip easier and more fun and I hope we’ll all accomplish a lot and enjoy doing it.

After many preparations, research of the films shown at the festival, connecting with a litany of people from all corners of the country and the world, rsvping to many party invites, setting up some press interviews (for Huffington Post video along with journalist Stewart Nusbaumer) and mapping out the parties and screening schedules, sending off the invite to our Breakfast Party at the NY Lounge in Sundance, and packing lots of warm clothes, I’m finally ready and on my way.

Many films in Sundance and Slamdance have connection to the Woodstock Film Festival and / or Hudson Valley Film Commission which is very exciting. So included in all the films I need to see as I seek out exciting new content for WFF’s year round programming or the upcoming Film Festival this September there will be many films with connections to us.

Some of the highlights include Higher Ground which was shot in the Hudson Valley, directed by and starring the wonderful Vera Farmiga (very excited about going to the premiere Sunday at the Eccles). The comedy My Idiot Brother produced by WFF’s advisory board member and good friend Peter Saraf; Martha Marcy Mary Marlene produced by WFF’s advisory board member and good friend Tedd Hope with sound design by Woodstocker Coll Anderson; Salvation Boulevard based on the novel by Woodstocker Larry Beinhardt and much more. I look forward to seeing them all with the hope of bringing many of them to the Hudson Valley.

And so with jam packed schedule of activities all planned (though I know it will all change once I get there…all good plans do…), the goal to promote the Hudson Valley in general and WFF and HVFC in specific, and the hope to bring films, filmmakers, press, sponsorship and new industry connections, I’m prepared to give up sleep for the next week and embark on yet another snowy Sundance.

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