Unveiling what it calls a "sneak peak" Thursday, the Woodstock Film Festival announced some highlights of its upcoming event taking place in the scenic Catskills in upstate New York September 21 - 25.
Bruce Beresford "Peace, Love & Misunderstanding" will open the festival. The film stars Catherine Keener as a conservative lawyer who takes her two teenage children to meet their hippie grandmother, played by Jane Fonda in - naturally - Woodstock.
The East Coast debut of "Another Happy Day" by Sam Levinson will screen as a Spotlight film with star Ellen Barkin receiving the fest's Excellence in Acting Award, while Meera Gandhi's "Giving Back," a short about how her friends "give back" to humanity is slated. Oscar-nominated actor Mark Ruffalo will be on hand to discuss his community activism and will receive the first honorary "Meera Gandhi Giving Back" award.
Also set to receive Woodstock honors is Robin Bronk who will receive the festival's Honorary Trailblazer Award for her work as a public advocate for the arts.
"This year's program reflects the extraordinary works of filmmakers from far - flung places such as Bulgaria, Spain and Israel, to those from our backyard right here in the Hudson Valley," commented Meira Blaustein, WFF co-founder and executive director in a statement. "Today's filmmakers continue to carve their own interpretations of global events and individual nuances, pushing the envelope, delving into unchartered territories and unflinchingly exploring and bending genres, stories and characters. We are proud to provide the Woodstock platform for them and are eagerly awaiting to have them and their work with us this fall."
Now in its 12th year, the Woodstock Film Festival screens 150 films in addition to panels, performances and special events taking place in Woodstock, and the neighboring towns of Rhinebeck, Rosendale and Kingston, in the Hudson Valley Catskills.
Woodstock will announce its full lineup August 30th.
Thursday's announced Woodstock film lineup with descriptions provided by the festival and select programs:
"Peace, Love & Misunderstanding," directed by Bruce Beresford (U.S. premiere) - Opening Night Film
In this film by WFF 2010 Honorary Maverick Award recipient Bruce Beresford (Driving Miss Daisy, Tender Mercies) Oscar nominated actress, Catherine Keener, plays a conservative lawyer who takes her two teenage children to meet their estranged, hippie grandmother (Jane Fonda) in Woodstock. Shot and produced here in the Hudson Valley, the opening night film will take place Thursday, September 22, at the newly renovated Woodstock Playhouse. Beresford, along with writers, producers and select cast will attend the Q&A after the screening.
"Another Happy Day," directed by Sam Levinson (East Coast Premiere) - Spotlight Film
High-strung Lynn (Ellen Barkin) and her troubled grown children (Kate Bosworth and Ezra Miller) journey deep into the heart of domestic darkness to attend the wedding of her estranged eldest son. (Barkin will be the recipient of the WFF Excellence in Acting Award at the Saturday September 24th, Gala Maverick Awards Ceremony. She will be in attendance for the Q&A, and the Award ceremony.) Two-time Golden Globe Award Nominated actress and Emmy Award winner, Ellen Barkin is known for her remarkable roles in "Sea of Love" (1989), "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" (1998) and more recently "Ocean's Thirteen" (2007).
"Giving Back," directed by Meera Gandhi - Special Screening
International humanitarian, author and filmmaker Meera Gandhi explores the deeply personal and unique ways in which her friends from around the world "give back" to humanity. A conversation on global philanthropy will follow the screening of this riveting short documentary. (*Academy Award Nominated actor, Mark Ruffalo, will receive the very first honorary Meera Gandhi Giving Back award for his community activism involving safe water and hydro-fracking in the Catskills. Ms. Gandhi will present the award to Mark Ruffalo at the Saturday September 24th, Gala Maverick Awards Ceremony.) Academy Award Nominated actor, Mark Ruffalo, is a resident of the Catskills and an active supporter of the anti-fracking movement, traveling to Albany and Washington to protect safe water for the region. Easily moving between stage and screen his most recent roles include "Collateral" (2004), "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" (2004), "Shutter Island" (2010) and "The Kids Are All Right" (2010).
2011 Honorary Trailblazer Award Recipient, Robin Bronk
Public advocacy for the arts pioneer Robin Bronk will receive the Honorary Trailblazer Award for her tireless fighting and commitment to believing in the power of creativity in the arts to effect social change. The award will be presented at the Saturday, September 24, Gala Maverick Awards Ceremony. Bronk is Chief Executive Officer of The Creative Coalition—the leading national, nonprofit, nonpartisan social and public advocacy organization of the arts and entertainment industry. Bronk is dedicated to educating, mobilizing and activating the entertainment industry and arts community on issues of public importance, particularly the First Amendment, arts advocacy and media literacy.
"Paper Birds," directed by Emilio Aragÿn (in conjunction with the Spanish consulate)
A Musician , a ventriloquist, a singer and an orphan named Miguel make up an unlikely family of lost souls, struggling to get by one day at a time, sharing their joys and sorrows and their only escape from the misery around them: their music. As it turns out, when bread is scarce, applause can really hit the spot. But right away they are put to the test and forced to make decisions that will place their lives in jeopardy.
"A Dolphin Boy," directed by Dani Menkin and Yonatan Nir (U.S. Preminere, in conunction with the Israeli consulate)
A documentary about a teenager from an Arab village in the north of Israel who disconnects himself from humans following a violent attack that he experienced. As a last resort before hospitalization in a Mental Institution, he is taken by his devoted father to be treated with Dolphins in the Red Sea. After months of silence, he begins to talk again, but erases his past and refuses to go home to his awaiting mother. This documentary, filmed over the course of four years, is about the devastating havoc that human violence can wreak upon the human soul, and about the healing powers of nature and of love.
"Fat Cows Lean Cows," directed by Meni Elias (World Premiere, in conjunction with the Israeli consulate)
On the Gaza Strip border, a Palestinian, an Israeli elderly man, and a Thai immigrant, work together on a struggling farm in Israel, at a time when industrial agriculture dominates and political tensions are rife. Their personal stories are a microcosm of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the state of small farms in an age of factory farming.
"Coming Up Roses," directed by Lisa Albright (World Premiere)
Young Alice (Rachel Brosnahan) and her theatrical mother, Diane (Bernadette Peters) desperately hold onto each other and the fantasy of a better life. A dangerous neighborhood, money troubles, even Diane's relentless depression will not defeat them. But is their love and determination enough? A break out dramatic role for Broadway superstar Bernadette Peters.