The 18th annual Woodstock Film Festival takes place this week. It kicks off with a performance and screening Wednesday evening and runs through Sunday, with showings in Woodstock, Saugerties, Rosendale, Rhinebeck and Kingston. WAMC’s Hudson Valley Bureau Chief Allison Dunne has a look at a few of the films shot locally.
Meira Blaustein is co-founder and executive director of the Woodstock Film Festival.
“More and more filmmakers who have grown up here are going out there into the world and making these amazing films,” Blaustein says.
Films, she says, such as the documentary “This Is Congo,” about the continuing conflict there.
“’This is Congo’ had its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival beginning of September to standing ovation,” Blaustein says. “It was made by a filmmaker who grew up in Woodstock and who currently lives in Hudson.”
She refers to Daniel McCabe.
“And, on the other hand, I guess I should juxtapose that with a film such as ‘What Children Do,’ which was shot on a shoestring, right in Woodstock,” Blaustein says. “It’s really a beautiful story, well acted, well edited, but with a tiny budget funded by Woodstockers.”
Brooklyn filmmaker Dean Peterson wrote and directed “What Children Do.” It’s about two estranged sisters who return to their house in rural New York to care for their dying grandmother. Peterson says most of the film was shot in Woodstock, including the house. He says filming also took place in a few surrounding areas as well as in Kingston. He first mentions a location in Woodstock.
“And we shot a lot of stuff on Tinker Street, there’s a montage where they go around town and go to different shops around there so I’m sure people would recognize stores that are in the area,” Peterson says. “We shot in the Kingston area. We went to Zaborski Emporium, and we shot a lot of stuff on the Rondout in Kingston right on the water and the bridge going over the river.”
Peterson talks about his focus on sisters.
“I wrote the script because I have two sisters myself, and the movie isn’t based on them in any way, but I was always fascinated by the dynamic between sisters, and the complicated nature of just the relationship between sisters specifically has always been really interesting to me, and there aren’t really a lot of movies that I feel like really accurately capture the kind of complexity of that relationship,” Peterson says.
Christopher Radcliff and Lauren Wolkstein are New York City-based filmmakers who shot “The Strange Ones” in the Hudson Valley. Here’s Radcliff.
“We chose the Hudson Valley for a few different reasons. It’s not actually our first time shooting in the Hudson Valley. We, ‘The Strange Ones’ is actually based on a short that we made in 2011 and we also shot that in the Hudson Valley,” Radcliff says. “In fact, a lot of locations in the feature are very close to or the same locations that we used in the short.”
“The Strange Ones” is an atmospheric thriller about a young man and a boy, seemingly brothers, who appear to be on a road trip across an undefined, remote American landscape. Again, Radcliff.
“We knew the sort of feeling that we wanted the locations to have. And it had to be something that was kind of, had a lot of variation in terms of it had to be rural at times and other times more sort of based around highways and major transit areas but then also very kind of lush and nature sort of locations that look like they could be sort of very remote.”
Radcliff says they knew they could find it all in the Hudson Valley. Wolkstein says they took a scouting road trip to the Catskills for the short film and repeated that trip for the feature. She says places in the Hudson Valley and Catskills project a sense of timelessness. And they contain a variety of landscapes.
“We shot in Phoenicia…” Wolkstein says.
“At the Phoenicia Diner,” Wolkstein and Radcliff say.
“…which is our favorite diner. We love that place,” says Wolkstein. (She and Radcliff laugh.) “We shot in Kerhonkson; we shot a bunch of different locations there. We stayed at the Hudson Valley Resort and Spa. The whole cast and crew stayed there.”
Radcliff says the characters’ destination was shot in Woodstock. And they shot around an abandoned limestone mine in Rosendale, Ulster County.
“Widow Jane Mine was another… in the movie, the cave location and a lot of the sort of outdoor kind of forest locations that we needed for scenes that take place in the middle of a forest, those all were shot around, or some of them were shot around the Widow Jane Mine,” Radcliff says.
“I really like to say and see that there’s such richness in talent in this area,” Blaustein says.
Zooming out from the Hudson Valley, Susan Sarandon will receive this year’s Maverick Award and Bill Pullman, the festival’s Excellence in Acting Award. The Woodstock Film Festival takes place October 11 through October 15. There’s more information at woodstockfilmfestival.org.