While this year’s New York Film Festival offers a promising lineup of new films from directors like The Coen Brothers, Alfonso Cuarón, and Claire Denis, cinephiles will find another niche and low-key film festival just two hours upstate. Currently in its 19th year, The Woodstock Film Festival will be held from October 10th-14th this year, and will feature over one hundred films, including feature length narratives and documentaries, as well as shorts. It will even be presenting the directorial debut by Paul Dano, Wildlife, as a centerpiece film, which has been a festival darling since it premiered at Sundance this January.
“They’ll be great films, people and parties the whole weekend,” explained Meira Blaustein, the festival’s co-founder and executive director, during a speech she gave at their launch party. Held at Manhattan’s Tuttles Bar and Grill, the venue gave the patrons plenty of room to spread out, with a ton of food and drink dispersed to ensure merriment (and maybe some networking too).
The launch party has traditionally been held in Manhattan, as all parties involved with The Woodstock Film Festival have at least some connections in NYC. “This year we worked with Wheelhouse Creative for editing together our festival trailer,” explains Blaustein. “They’re a New York-based trailer-producing company that have worked on many high-profile projects, including the In Memoriam sequences that they show at the Oscars.”
Blaustein has been heavily involved with film her whole life. After studying film in college, she spent her young adult life working at festivals, which gave her a growing urge to make her own. She realized her vision in 2001 when she and Laurent Rejto founded The Woodstock Film Festival and it sublimely catered to her ambitions. “I always wanted to bring high-quality creative filmmaking to a more down-home community that didn’t regularly experience this ambiance,” explains Blaustein. “The festival has been giving birth to both a new community, as well as a new industry together.”
When asked about some of her favorite moments to come to the festival, Blaustein felt slightly overwhelmed by such a question. “There have been so many,” she says. “We had the U.S. premiere for Far From Heaven, which was attended by director Todd Haynes and the late composer Elmer Bernstein. In our first year, we also had a dance party that screened Stop Making Sense. One year, we even had a celebration for the filmmaker Les Blank, where we showed his film Garlic is as Good As Ten Mothers, and we actually cooked a garlic feast to go with it where all the audience experienced its aroma.”
These examples strongly showcase the festival’s affinity for both locality and high-culture, and hopefully they’ll be similar stories to tell from this year’s. While New York Festival is certain to feature a barrage of films that simply shouldn’t be missed, there’s little doubt that The Woodstock Film Festival will provide a more offbeat alternative for the film season this October.
For more information on The Woodstock Film Festival, click here.