Woodstock Film Festival Honors Peter Bogdanovich With Maverick Award
“Begin with a bang and end with a snap.” So declared Peter Bogdanovich at the Woodstock Film Festival’s Maverick Awards Gala on Oct. 5. The fabled auteur was doing an impression of John Ford revealing the secrets of filmmaking. Bogdanovich also did gentle imitations of old friends Orson Welles and Jimmy Stewart before plugging his forthcoming comedy, Squirrels to the Nuts.
A smart, distinctive patchwork of narratives, documentaries, shorts, animations, panels, parties and music, the fiercely independent, not-for-profit Woodstock Film Festival just celebrated its 14th year. Thanks to the diligent outreach of co-founders/directors Laurent Riejo and Meira Blaustein, the five-day fest held Oct. 2 through 6 now embraces the greater Hudson Valley, with films and events occurring in Kingston, Rhinebeck, Rosedale and Saugerties, as well as Woodstock proper.
The WFF Gala event was held in neighboring Kingston, as it paid tribute to native son Bogdanovich with a Lifetime Achievement Award. Bogdanovich also was a featured actor in the darkly comic Cold Turkey, where his ultra-deadpan delivery was used to full effect.
In a surprising trifecta, director Andrew Mudge’s The Forgotten Kingdom won three Maverick Awards: narrative feature, editing and The Haskell Wexler Award for Best Cinematography. It’s a moving, magical tale of identity filmed in Africa that moves northward from Johannesburg into the Kingdom of Lesotho. The documentary feature award went to American Revolutionary: The Evolution Of Grace Lee Boggs, directed by Grace Lee (no relation). Boggs is a 98-year-old Detroit-based activist who continues to embody her inspiring convictions of growth and change.
Woodstock maintains a beguiling combination of radical spirits and down-to-earth values, and it infuses the festival with a candid warmth and openness. Actor/co-producer Andy Garcia was in town with his co-star Vera Farmiga touting their charming chance-encounter, At Middleton (directed by Adam Rogers), which boasts some of the best onscreen chemistry seen this year. Farmiga and her family already live in upstate New York, while Garcia says he’s hired a real estate agent to help find him a place in the area.
Canadian director Ron Mann is a perennial guest of the WFF, and he too is feeling the call of the Catskills. Besides considering some Hudson Valley real estate, Ron says he’s close to completing his highly anticipated feature documentary on maverick film director Robert Altman titled Altman. “I’m working very closely with Robert’s widow Kathryn,” Mann told The Hollywood Reporter. “I hope to have it ready for Cannes in May.”
Rather than doing any new interviews for this comprehensive artist profile, Mann is reconstructing Altman’s life story from hundreds of hours of existing film footage, including Altman’s movies, interviews, photographs, private recordings and other original communications. In terms of the potential soundtrack, Mann will be using the old film scores as well as introducing new interpretations of the music that inhabited Altman’s filmic odyssey -- including the jazzy Altman-penned standard, “Let’s Begin Again” and performances by keyboardist John Medeski.