Your Guide to the Woodstock Film Festival

With more than 120 screenings to sort through, WFF's head programmer offers help finding the right one for you


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Arrested Development's Alia Shawkat gets darker in Amber Tamblyn's Paint it Black.

Movie Stills Courtesy of the Woodstock Film Festival

While Alec Baldwin was praised for a recent impersonation of Donald Trump’s lewd “locker room banter,” the 30 Rock star hopes to be lauded for his far less off-color role in Blind, which will be premiering this weekend at the Woodstock Film Festival (WFF), kicking off Thursday night. Blind is one of more than 120 independent animated shorts, full-length documentaries, and narratives screening throughout this 17th annual WFF installment.

One look at the festival’s full event schedule, which takes over venues in Woodstock, Rhinebeck, Kingston, Saugerties, and Rosendale between Thursday and Sunday, illustrates that WFF's slate is a lot to digest. That's why we asked its head programmer, Meira Blaustein, to cherry-pick a handful of “must-sees” in order to orient you in the right direction. 

 

The Movie: Paint It Black

When/Where: Friday, 6:30 pm at Woodstock Playhouse; Sunday, 5:30 pm at Orpheum Theater

Why It's Must-See: “[It’]s a wonderful little film made by Amber Tamblyn and starring Alia Shawkat. She’s really great in it. They are going to be here for the film’s premiere. Alia is the center of the film, and it’s about her dealing with the death of her lover and her relationship with his mother. It’s extremely poetic, and while on the dark side, it’s emotional and just sweeps you away.”

 

The Movie: Bad Vegan and the Teleportation Machine

The Fly was about a bad vegan as well

When/Where: Friday, 4:30 pm at Bearsville Theater; Saturday, 9 pm at Orpheum Theater

Why It's Must-See: “It's as quirky as the title makes it sound. The story is about a teleportation gone bad—I don’t really know how teleportation can go well—but it’s nothing like The Fly. It’s kind of very silly, funny, and fun. The actress [Brianne Berkson] is pretty darn amazing. If you want to see something light, entertaining, and smart at the same time, I think Bad Vegan and the Teleportation Machine would be really great.”

 

The Movie: Sensitivity Training

When/Where: Thursday, 1 pm at Woodstock Playhouse; Saturday, 6:30 pm at Orpheum Theater

Why It's Must-See: “This is another film in the same vein in terms of being light and silly, but extremely well done. It centers on a brilliant scientist and her lab, working on a particular research project, who has a really bad attitude towards her colleagues and employees. So the head of the lab tells her, 'Either you submit to sensitivity training, or we shut your lab and your research down.' The whole relationship she has with her sensitivity trainer is extremely funny, so it’s a really fun ride.“

 

The Movie: MARATHON: The Patriots Day Bombing

When/Where: Friday, 6 pm at Upstate Films Rhinebeck; Saturday, 4:15 pm at Bearsville Theater

Why It's Must-See: "This film is extremely important, more on a human level than say a political one. It’s about the Boston bombings, but that is just the starting line. What the film is really about is the survivors and their journey after the bombing and where they are today. The most important thing is that three of those survivors are coming to the screening to talk to the audience. And in the process of coming out, their spirits shine through. You can not help but feel inspired. It’s about the power of the human spirit.”

 

The Movie: Real Boy

Despite the film's title, Pinocchio does not make a cameo

When/Where: Saturday, 2 pm at Bearsville Theater; Sunday, 7:15 pm, Upstate Films Rhinebeck

Why It's Must-See: “It’s a documentary about the transition of a young adult from a female to a male for him, for his mother, his neighborhood, and his family. But the film takes you through this process in a very funny and human kind of way. The protagonist is actually such an endearing character, so you can’t help but fall in love with him right away, and you just go with him through the process. It’s quite illuminating, and really well done.”

 

The Movie: My Feral Heart

When/Where: Thursday, 3:30 pm at Woodstock Playhouse; Sunday, 4 pm at Upstate Films Rhinebeck

Why It's Must-See: “My Feral Heart is this beautiful little film from England about a wonderful, sensitive, Down syndrome young man who has been living his whole life with his mother when she passes away and he is moved by social workers to a group home. The film is about his relationship with the people in the group home, his relationship with one of the workers outside of the group home, as well as a new comer who really just opens up this world into different new avenues in how he manages all of that. It’s one of those true gems."

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