Woodstock Festival Set for Year Five
by Brian Brooks
Returning once again with its mantra "Fiercely Independent," the Woodstock Film Festival has unveiled plans for its fifth edition. Dylan Kidd's "p.s." will have its East Coast premiere in Woodstock, while Brad Anderson's "The Machinist" will screen the first night in neighboring Rhinebeck. "p.s.," which screened last week at the Toronto International Film Festival, stars Laura Linney as a divorced thirty-something who finds gets embroiled in an affair with a younger man (Topher Grace). "The Machinist" is a psychological thriller starring Christian Bale who plays a man who has not slept in a year, spending his waking moments in a nightmare of terror.
Other highlights on tap for this year's Woodstock, which takes place in the famed Catskills town October 13-17 includes a roster of over 125 films, panels, seminars, concerts and special events. Included in the lineup is the East Coast premiere of Prachya Pinkaew's "Ong Bak: The Thai Warrior." The feature centers on a Thai village, which suffers tragedy when the head of the town's Buddha statue is stolen to win favor from a crime boss in Bangkok. Villagers then pin their hopes in a young orphan to retrieve their treasured Buddha.
Legendary director Jean-Luc Godard's latest "Notre Musique" will also screen. The experimental work is described by Woodstock organizers as "an essay on history" divided into three parts. Jessica Sharzer's story of a high school freshman who is stunned into silence by a tragic event, "Speak" will have its New York debut at the event as will Robert Stone's Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA) doc, "Guerrilla: The Taking of Patty Hearst." David Gordon Green's dramatic thriller "Undertow" about two brothers who run away from home following the death of their father and the arrival of their troubled uncle will join the roster. Also screening is Amanda Micheli's doc, which won audience awards at the AFI, San Francisco and Sonoma Valley film festivals, about Hollywood stuntwomen. The film also screened last week in Toronto.
Woodstock has long been a politically stratified community, and the festival continues that tradition with William Karel's doc, "The World According to Bush." Music is also a local mainstay, and the fest will screen music films including Annna Gabriel's "Growing Up on Tour: A Family Portrait," which follows Peter Gabriel's "Growing Up" tour in 2002.
In other events, Woodstock will honor director Mira Nair with its 2004 Maverick award. The prize, which recognizes an individual's life and work, is named after the original Woodstock arts colony of the 1900s. Closing the event is Nicole Kassell's drama, "The Woodsman." The feature, also a Toronto 2004 alumn, stars Kevin Bacon as a former child sex-offender, who attempts to reintegrate into society after being in prison, while dealing with his own personal demons. Woodstock is a competitive festival.
[For more information and a complete line-up, please visit http://www.woodstockfilmfestival.com.