Upstate New York’s “fiercely independent” film event, the Woodstock Film Festival, turns 14 this year. Opening today, Wednesday, October 2, the fest runs through this Sunday, October 6, unspooling over 125 films during its run. Of these, more than fifty are features, and about half of those are documentaries. The following highlights a selection of titles I haven’t previously covered here.
A couple of titles making their world premiere at the festival this year are Joe Berlinger’s HANK: FIVE YEARS FROM THE BRINK (pictured), a portrait of the former Secretary of the Treasury Hank Paulson and how he weathered the 2008 economic crisis; and Aram Garriga’s AMERICAN JESUS, an expansive survey of the influence of evangelical Christianity on American culture. Dana Ben-Ari’s BREASTMILK, an exploration of the challenges and misconceptions around breastfeeding, makes its North American bow; while Alex Stonehill and Bradley Hutchinson’s BARZAN, about an Iraqi refugee caught up in charges of terrorism, has its East Coast premiere here.
Among Woodstock’s New York premieres are Haskell Wexler’s FOUR DAYS IN CHICAGO, chronicling protests against last year’s NATO Summit in the Windy City; Sierra Pettengill and Jamila Wignot’s TOWN HALL, a portrait of two Tea Party activists in the lead-up to last year’s presidential election; Rob Kuhns’ BIRTH OF THE LIVING DEAD, a history and tribute to George Romero’s cult classic zombie film; and Jeremy Workman’s MAGICAL UNIVERSE (pictured), the story of the director’s unique relationship with an outsider artist whose muse is Barbie.