Film Festival, Empire State Film Festival
buffs are faced with an embarrassment of riches in upcoming
days—and, no, we’re not talking about release of the new
Tom Green and Adam Sandler movies. Two whopping independent-film
festivals touch down in the area soon, one right here in
Albany and one just a short hike down the road, and they’re
promising to challenge attendees’ notions of filmmaking
and film-festival organization.
For the past two years, the Woodstock Film Festival (running
today, Thursday, through Sunday) has been expanding its
programming to be a more inclusive arts festival—without
skimping on the film, of course—and the schedule for this
year’s festival is a perfect match for a location best known
for another famous festival. “The establishment of Focus
on Music is particularly appropriate given the history
of the town of Woodstock, long known as a musical Mecca
of all genres,” says Woodstock Film Festival director of
development Laurent Rejto. Accordingly, Focus on Music
will present films about music and musicians, and will
“actively explore music in film, with emphasis on film scoring,
composers labs and sound-and-vision workshops.” There will
also be live performances and new music videos by “top directors.”
And this is all in addition to the more time-honored approach
of presenting big-shot indie filmmakers talking about making
big-deal indie films.
highlights will include a performance by Arlo Guthrie (pictured)
& Friends celebrating the legacy of Arlo’s dad, Woody
Guthrie. The performance is inspired by the Woody biopic
Bound for Glory, which will be screened “to honor
the artistry and social consciousness of its cinematographer,
Haskell Wexler.” Wexler will be on hand to enjoy the tribute,
as will the film’s producer, Harold Leventhal, onetime manager
of Pete Seeger and the Weavers, Bob Dylan and Joan Baez.
Phish bassist Mike Gordon will present his film Rising
Low, which documents the banding together of 25 well-known
bassists to record with Gov’t. Mule after the death of that
band’s bassist, Allen Woody. The presentation will also
feature a concert by a number of musicians, including King
Crimson bassist Tony Levin.
the Night: The Benny Mardones Story is pretty self-explanatory
if you recall the Top 10 hit of 1980; if you don’t, it’s
the tale of a one-hit wonder’s ascent to fame, sudden fall
and the years of struggle to regain the public eye. Mardones,
a Syracuse native, will perform at the screening, his first
performance in the area in quite some time.
Another documentary, Standing in the Shadow of Motown:
The Story of the Funk Brothers, relates the saga of
the underknown “master musicians behind the famous ‘Motown
sound,’ who played on more No. 1 hits than Elvis, the Beatles,
the Beach Boys and the Rolling Stones combined.” The film
features Funk Brothers performances with Chaka Kahn, Bootsy
Collins, Ben Harper, Joan Osborne and others.
On the less explicitly musical front, actor-director Tim
Robbins will be on hand to receive the honorary Maverick
Award, and directors Jim Jarmusch and Jonathan Demme will
screen new works.
The Empire State Film Festival, which will run at the Egg
from tomorrow (Friday) through Sept. 28, goes the more traditional
route in terms of programming, but organizers believe the
work shown will offer more than enough food for thought:
One film in particular, Zero Day (pictured), seems
likely to generate visceral response; a film by Niskayuna
native Ben Coccio, it was shot in part in his hometown and
Albany. One of the festival’s artistic directors, Jon Galt,
says of Zero Day: “With barely any funding Coccio
created a breathtaking look into the world of angst-ridden
American adolescence. Although it is fictional, this movie
is so frighteningly believable that one festival screening
committee actually called the FBI to report a heinous crime.”
The festival boasts a number of feature films and documentaries,
and the directors of many of these films will be on hand
to personally screen their work; there are also two full
evenings of short films scheduled on Sept. 24-25.
The Woodstock Film Festival takes place at various venues
in Woodstock, beginning today (Thursday, Sept. 19) and running
through Sunday. For exact scheduling and ticket information,
call (845) 679-4265, or visit www.woodstockfilmfestival.com.
The Empire State Film Festival takes place at the Egg (Empire
State Plaza, Albany) beginning tomorrow (Friday, Sept. 20)
and running through Sept. 28. Tickets are $7 per film, $12
for two films on the same day, $25 for five films chosen
in advance. For more information, including an exact schedule
and film descriptions, call 473-1845 or visit www.empirefilm.com.
& Craft Festival
family fun in the sun this Sunday at the annual Harvest
& Craft Festival, sponsored by the Capital District
Community Gardens. Held on Eighth Street in Troy, the festival
features a children’s activities pavilion with a variety
of fun activities: life-size cartoon characters, clowns,
a petting zoo and pony rides, arts and crafts, and more.
Aside from the kid-oriented fun, there will be a variety
of foods for sale, a farmers’ market, and vendors selling
crafts and baked goods. Plus, there will be live music on
the main stage.
The Harvest & Craft Festival will be held this Sunday
(Sept. 22) on Eighth Street between Hoosick and Jacob streets,
Troy, from 11 AM to 5 PM. Call 274-8685 for information.