Hudson Valley Film Festivals: Woodstock Film Festival in Woodstock and FilmColumbia in Chatham

Lights, camera, movies! Two area film festivals prove you don’t have to go to Cannes to screen hot new films and schmooze with stars


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crandell theatre

With all events within walking distance of the circa 1926 Crandell Theatre on Chatham’s Main Street, FilmColumbia is known for its intimate flavor. “You can often stand outside the Crandell and listen to people get excited and talk about favorites. Sometimes, they’re among the first to see these flicks,” says festival director Calliope Nicholas. The five-day event screens about 50 top independent American and foreign films, as well as hosts discussions, art displays, and parties.

Originally planned as a two-day event that would screen local films, the festival morphed into five days several years ago when its founders decided to cast their net wider and include foreign films. The goal became exposing area viewers to the best films available regardless of origin. “These are films that either won’t be shown in local theaters or will take months to get there,” says Peter Biskind, executive director and programmer and a contributing editor to Vanity Fair magazine. Biskind chooses the roster of films along with Laurence Kardish, who recently stepped down as senior curator of films and media at MoMA. This year’s buzz centers around Austrian director Michael Haneke’s flick Amour, which in May won the Palme d’Or at Cannes.

filmcolumbia poster

The festival now represents a tapestry of global choices. Several Cuban films are scheduled to be presented as part of a burgeoning relationship with the Havana Film Festival. At press time, the lineup of films hadn’t been finalized; but attendees can expect to see entries from Cannes, Berlin, and Toronto. And it’s not uncommon for films screened at the festival — such as last year’s The Artist — to end up winning Oscar nominations or awards, says Nicholas. The Saturday night sneak movie, often a winner, is never revealed in advance.

Call 518-392-3459 or visit for more info.

Dueling Festivals

Can’t make it to both? Here’s information to help you decide:

Woodstock: Oct. 10 to 14
FilmColumbia: Oct. 17 to 21

Approximate number of films:
Woodstock: 130
FilmColumbia: 50

Number of movie lovers expected:
Woodstock: 10,000-15,000
FilmColumbia: 7,000-8,000

Hottest industry folks who showed last year:
Woodstock: Actors Ellen Barkin and Mark Ruffalo
FilmColumbia: Screenwriters John Orloff and Courtney Hunt

Movie Prices:
Woodstock: $10 to $20
FilmColumbia: $11

Hottest events:
Thursday night: Dear Governor Cuomo, multimedia documentary about fracking issues with live music and spoken words at the Bearsville Theater
Friday night: Filmmaker’s Party at the new, 21,000-square-foot Saugerties Performing Arts Factory
Saturday night: Maverick Awards Gala in Kingston
Sunday morning: Actors’ Dialogue panel discussion, which sells out yearly and features candid conversation
Friday night: Classic Cocktails/Classic Films party at Chatham’s Peint O Gwrw Pub; well-known movie cocktails are featured
Saturday night: Sneak Peek party, following the surprise movie, at Blue Plate Restaurant
Sunday morning: Screenwriting Panel, during which actors read a scene from a new work and discuss it


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