Woodstock Film Festival Kicks Off With ‘Fair Play,’ Will Honor James Ivory (EXCLUSIVE)

The upcoming Woodstock Film Festival will kick off with Chloe Domont’s “Fair Play” and present a lifetime achievement award to James Ivory.

The 24th edition of the fest, which runs from Sept. 27 to Oct. 1 in New York’s Hudson Valley, about 100 miles north of Manhattan, features a lineup of world, U.S. and New York premieres of feature films directed by filmmakers ranging from Steve Buscemi (“The Listener”) and Wim Wenders (“Anselm”) to Roger Ross Williams (“Stamped From the Beginning”).

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Opening night “Fair Play,” an erotic thriller about a power-hungry couple contending for power at a cutthroat financial firm, was acquired by Netflix for $20 million after debuting at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.

WFF will be held at venues in Woodstock, Rosendale and Saugerties, all of which are Hudson Valley towns where many Academy members own homes, making the fest an award season campaign hotspot.

Additional narrative feature titles include “I Am What You Imagine,” by Matthew Modine; Nicol Paone’s “The Kill Room,” starring Uma Thurman and Samuel L. Jackson; and “The New Boy,” directed by Warwick Thornton and starring Cate Blanchett.

Buscemi, who made his feature directing debut with “Tree Lounge” in 1996, will do a Q&A following the screening of “The Listener,” written by Alessandro Camon and featuring a cast including Tessa Thompson and Rebecca Hall.

Woodstock Film Festival co-founder and executive director Meira Blaustein is crossing her fingers that some talent associated with the WFF movies will receive SAG-AFTRA waivers and be able to attend.

“Many of the production companies with films at the festival have applied for a SAG-AFTRA waiver,” she says. “We are hopeful that some of the waiver requests will come through.”

Regardless, she continues, “we are fortunate to have the majority of the filmmakers with films at the festival confirmed to attend, which is so important. So while the current landscape has created challenges, this year’s film festival will still be overflowing with filmmakers of all stripes.”

WFF’s feature documentary lineup includes several hit films that either debuted earlier this year at Sundance and Berlin or will premiere at the beginning of September at Toronto and Venice. They include: “Beyond Utopia” and “The Tuba Thieves” (Sundance), “Joan Baez I Am a Noise” (Berlin), “Defiant” and “Stamped From the Beginning” (Toronto) and “Hollywoodgate” (Venice).

All told the 24th edition of WFF will feature 29 narrative features and 26 documentary features. The festival will include nine world premieres, seven U.S. premieres, and 24 New York premieres.
Of the 55 features at WFF, 23 are directed by women. They include Jane Weinstock’s personal 1960s-set drama “Three Birthdays”; Brittany Snow’s directorial debut “Parachute”; and “Irena’s Vow” by Louise Archambault, adapted from the Broadway play of the same name.

Highlights of the documentary section directed by women include the 40th anniversary screening of Pamela Yates’ “When the Mountains Tremble,” Ondi Timoner’s “The New Americans: Gaming A Revolution,” and “Razing Liberty Square” by Oscar nominated filmmaker Katja Esson.

This marks the second year that short films that win at the Woodstock Film Festival in the categories of short narrative, animated short, and short documentary will automatically be eligible to be nominated for an Academy Award in their respective categories.

Ivory will take home the festival’s annual Lifetime Achievement Award for his string of film credits that “A Room With a View,” “Howards End” and “The Remains of the Day.” Ivory also wrote the screenplay for “Call Me By Your Name,” for which he received an Academy Award in 2018. A tribute screening of Ivory’s film “The City of Your Final Destination,” will take place on Saturday, Sept. 30, followed by a conversation with Ivory and novelist Peter Cameron.

The festival will also feature panels with filmmakers and industry vets including Sheila Nevins, Barbara Kopple, Matthew Modine, Mary Stuart Masterson, Dana Weissman, director of programs at the Writers Guild of America East, Eugene Hernandez, director of the Sundance Film Festival and head of public programming, Bob Berney, CEO of Picturehouse, and John Sloss, founder and CEO of Cinetic Media.

WFF’s annual awards ceremony will be held on Sept. 30, where honors will be presented for accomplishments in multiple categories including narrative feature, documentary feature, ultra indie and short.

“We are thrilled to continue our tradition of bringing together world class talent from our own Hudson Valley community and extraordinary works of cinema from all over the world,” says Blaustein. “As the Hudson Valley establishes itself as an epicenter of artistry and industry for the creative film community in the United States, we are proud to be at the forefront of generating experiences, audiences and conversations that give directors, actors, writers and people practicing all forms of filmmaking a place to flourish.”

The complete list of WFF’s features and short films can be found below.
Narrative Features:

“Alien Intervention,” by Janet Grillo, U.S. — U.S. Premiere

 “Asleep in My Palm,” by Henry Nelson, U.S. — World Premiere

“At the Gates,” by Augustus Meleo Bernstein, U.S. — U.S Premiere

“Blackout,” by Larry Fessenden, U.S. — U.S. Premiere

“The City of Your Final Destination,” by James Ivory, U.S.

“Crumb Catcher,” by Chris Skotchdople, U.S. — N.Y. Premiere

“Eileen,” by William Oldroyd, U.S. — N.Y. Premiere

“Fair Play,” by Chloe Domont, U.S. — Opening Night

“Fairyland,” by Andrew Durham, U.S. — N.Y. Premiere

“Finestkind,” by Brian Helgeland, U.S. — Closing Night

“Goodbye Stranger,” by Aaron Rookus, Netherlands — U.S. Premiere

“I Used to be Funny,” by Ally Pankiw, Canada — NY Premiere

“Irena’s Vow, by Louise Archambault, Poland, Canada — U.S. Premiere

“The Kill Room,” by Nicol Paone, U.S. — World Premiere

“The Listener,” by Steve Buscemi, U.S. Premiere

“Mascot,” by Remy van Heugten, Netherlands — N.Y. Premiere

“The Monk and the Gun,” by Pawo Choyning Dorji, Bhutan — N.Y. Premiere

“Narcosis,” by Martijn De Jong, Netherlands — N.Y. Premiere

“The New Boy,” by Warwick Thornton, Australia — U.S. Premiere

“No Right Way,” by Chelsea Bo, U.S. — N.Y. Premiere

“Parachute,” by Brittany Snow, U.S. — N.Y. Premiere

“Rachel Hendrix,” by Victor Nunez, U.S.

“Slide,” by Bill Plympton, U.S — N.Y. Premiere

“Stockade,” by Eric McGinty, U.S. — World Premiere

“Summer Solstice,” by Noah Schamus, U.S. — N.Y. Premiere

“Three Birthdays,” by Jane Weinstock, U.S. — World Premiere

“Tótem,” by Lila Avilés, Mexico, Denmark, France

“Which Brings Me to You,” by Peter Hutchings, U.S. — World Premiere

Documentary Features

“Another Body,” by Sophie Compton and Reuben Hamlyn, U.S. — N.Y. Premiere

“Anselm,” by Wim Wenders, Germany — N.Y. Premiere

“Beyond Utopia,” by Madeleine Gavin, U.S. — N.Y. Premiere

“Defiant,” by Karim Amer, Ukraine, U.K., U.S. — N.Y. Premiere

“Down By the Riverside,” by Jodie Childers and Dan Messina, U.S. — World Premiere

“Feeding Tomorrow,” by Oliver English, U.S. — N.Y. Premiere

“Finding the Money,” by Maren Poitras, U.S. — World Premiere

“Fioretta,” by Matthew Mishory, U.S., Czechia — World Premiere

“Food & Country,”by Laura Gabbert, U.S. — N.Y. Premiere

“Gumbo Coalition,” by Barbara Kopple, U.S.

“Hollywoodgate,” by Ibrahim Nash’at, U.S., Germany — N.Y. Premiere

“Hung Up on a Dream: The Zombies Documentary,” by Robert Schwartzman, U.S. — N.Y. Premiere

“In the Shadow of Beirut,” by Stephen Gerard Kelly and Garry Keane, U.S. — U.S. Premiere

“Invisible Nation,” by Vanessa Hope, U.S. — U.S. Premiere

“Joan Baez I Am a Noise,” by Miri Navasky, Maeve O’Boyle and Karen O’Connor, U.S.

“Mùsica!”, by Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman, U.S. — N.Y. Premiere

“The New Americans: Gaming A Revolution,” by Ondi Timoner, U.S. — N.Y. Premiere

“No Accident,” by Kristi Jacobson, U.S. — World Premiere

“Razing Liberty Square,” by Katja Esson, U.S.

“A Song Film by Kishi Bashi: Omoiyari,” by Kishi Bashi and Justin Taylor Smith, U.S. — N.Y. Premiere

“Stamped from the Beginning,” by Roger Ross Williams, U.S. — N.Y. Premiere

“Texas Music Revolution,” by Troy Paff, U.S. — N.Y. Premiere

“The Tuba Thieves,” by Alison O’Daniel, U.S.

“Unseen,” by Set Hernandez Rongkilyo, U.S. — N.Y. Premiere

“When the Mountains Tremble,” by Pamela Yates, Guatemala, 40th Anniversary Tribute

“With Peter Bradley,” by Alex Rappoport, U.S.

 Highlights from the shorts program include:

“American Santa,” by Avi Weider, U.S. — N.Y. Premiere

“Black Girls Play: The Story of Hand Games,” by Joe Brewster and Michèle Stephenson, U.S.

“Funnyface,” by Jude Harris, U.S.

“I Am What You Imagine,” by Matthew Modine, U.S. — N.Y. Premiere

“If Dreams Were Lightning,”  by Ramin Bahrani, U.S.

“Maria Schneider, 1983”, by Elisabeth Subrin, France

“Peccadillo”, by Sofia Garza-Barba, Mexico

“Who Tells the Story?”, by Joan Churchill, U.S. — World Premiere

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